The City of Lincoln Council and Boston Borough Council have become the first Lincolnshire authorities to suspend their public meetings until further notice following the latest government guidance over coronavirus.
A number of the planned meetings now read “postponed” on Lincoln’s calendar, with just one set to take place on Monday, March 23.
The Full Council meeting will discuss extending the six month attendance rule – that councillors must attend at least one meeting in that time period – for two members who could breach it under the latest decision.
They are Yvonne Bodger (Conservative), who last attended a council meeting in November 2019, and Andrew Kerry (Conservative), who has not attended since January this year. Both are due to ill health.
Graham Watts, Democratic and Elections Manager at City of Lincoln Council said: “Following consultation with political group leaders, all city council meetings will be postponed with immediate effect until further notice. This decision has been made in response to the UK’s current coronavirus outbreak.
“Currently, there is nothing in government legislation to enable councils to meet without the need for a physical meeting. However, it is understood that legislation is currently being drafted to enable all councils to have greater flexibility during the outbreak, in the form of ‘virtual meetings’ for example.
“Once this legislation is in place we will be able to explore how we may be able to adopt it.”
One other agenda item will consider proposed draft equality objectives until 2024.
It is understood nine councillors will voluntarily attend the meeting to meet the minimum needed for decisions to be passed.
Shortly after Lincoln, a Boston Borough Council spokesman’s also confirmed: “All meetings internal and external have been cancelled until further notice”.
Yesterday, it was confirmed North East Lincolnshire Council’s full council meeting set to take place on Thursday had been cancelled.
The authority said at the time it would be reviewing the position on further meetings on an ongoing basis.
Currently, Lincolnshire County Council, along with West Lindsey, South Kesteven, South Holland, and East Lindsey district councils, have not confirmed any meeting cancellations.
North Kesteven District Council has cancelled a planning meeting set to take place this afternoon due to limits on its buildings opening times caused by staff capacity. A further decision on future meetings is still due to take place.
No decision has been made to postpone meetings in North Lincolnshire, however, a spokesman confirmed discussions were on going and a decision is expected later today.
All upper tier authorities have been contacted for updates.
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