12:14pm Tuesday 27th May 2014
A REPORT which recommends elected members should not be allowed to attend meetings remotely is to go before a Caerphilly council scrutiny panel tomorrow.
The democratic services committee is to consider the report, written by service manager Jonathan Jones and labelled for the attention of the full council.
The report seeks approval to make the necessary changes to the council’s procedure rules and constitution.
It says that although the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 introduced the possibility of remote attendance at council meetings, to make it easier for those who may need to travel long distances, Caerphilly should not do so because it is “relatively small with good road communication links”.
“Remote attendance allows members to attend a council meeting without having to be present at the published meeting place,” says the report. “In practice, the remote attendance requirements are very specific and will be technically difficult to achieve. Councils such as Caerphilly...do not have significant geographical challenges.
“Indeed, the county borough has good road and rail links and members are able to travel to Penallta House or Pontllanfraith House within a reasonable time regardless of their home address.
“Therefore, the benefits associated with remote attendance would not be realisable.”
There is currently no known demand for remote attendance by members of the council, claims the report.
Guidance from Welsh Government says meetings can only take place remotely if not forbidden by the local authority’s standing orders, so it is up to each local authority to decide whether it wishes to allow remote attendance.
“Members are asked to note that the proposed amendment...will have no practical effect unless the council decides at some time in the future to provide facilities for remote attendance,” says the report.
The report says: “The principles of remote attendance fit well with equalities requirements by allowing elected members, who may fall under one or more of the protected characteristics, greater access to meetings.
“Due to the relatively small geographical area of the county borough however, along with good transport links, the overall accessibility of council offices, and with a very high attendance level of members in any case, realising improvement in terms of equalities implications for this council will not be so great as it would be for some other councils in Wales.”
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