The agenda was fixed, the Zoom meeting lined up and Councillors were prepped for debate, then an hour before the scheduled time of the meeting, an email arrived from Somerset’s advisory body for Parish Councils. It reminded Councils that periods of National mourning have to be taken into account when calculating the amount of notice given before meetings. So whilst, ordinarily, the required notice had been given for our meeting, the death of the Duke of Edinburgh meant that for the meeting to be valid, the agenda would have needed to have been sent out two days earlier than it was.
This reminds us that the Parish Council is a legal body which has to comply with a myriad of legislation. To have continued with the meeting would have left any decisions taken open to challenge, with things then getting increasingly complicated and potentially incurring costs.
The decision, whilst unfortunate, was therefore an easy one, the meeting had to be cancelled at 7.00pm. Councillors held a minute’s silence in memory of The Duke of Edinburgh and left Zoom somewhat earlier than anticipated.
The date of the next meeting is Tuesday 4 May, when the Annual meeting will be held at 7pm and an Ordinary meeting held immediately after. Please note the change of day. This is due to another impact of legislation. Prior to Covid, ‘remote’ Council meetings weren’t legal and the Government had to pass an Act to make it possible. The concession was however only set up to 7 May 2021 and we have recently heard that this period is not going to be extended, due to ‘pressure on parliamentary time available’. So the Council could be holding its final remote meeting in May, with the intention of returning to face to face meetings in the Victoria Rooms from June. We look forward to seeing anyone wishing to attend in person at that time.
A reminder that there is currently a vacancy on the Council so if you are interested, please contact me or one of the Councillors for further information on what the role entails. It is not always as complicated as the current times suggest!