South Holland District Council offices.

Council meetings stopped for now

Council meetings at district level have been halted this month due to the cost of social distancing.

South Holland District Council has pushed all of its meetings towards the end of the month as virtual meetings can no longer be held.

In line with all other councils, they had been using Zoom, or similar software for virtual meetings because of the pandemic.

But temporary regulations relating to the practice expired last month and the councils are now not legally able to hold virtual meetings. The cost of hiring venues big enough for social distancing is also too great to be regular.

“Whilst we were able to hold the essential Annual General Meeting physically at Springfields Event Centre last month, with social distancing and safety measures in place, this is a difficult and limiting option that brings additional costs to the council,” said a spokesman for South Holland District Council.

“We are now awaiting updated Government guidance on the use of our buildings and the holding of physical meetings. As the next stage of the lifting of restrictions will not happen before June 21, and as we do not yet know whether to rules on social distancing will change, non-essential meetings have been postponed until more information is available. This will help us to ensure the safety of councillors, officers and the public, while avoidng unnecessary cost to the taxpayer,” he added.

The High Court dismissed a challenge by several councils in April after the Government refused to extend emergency legislation allowing virtual meetings beyond May.

County council meetings had a ‘scheduled suspension of activity’ after the election.

A spokesman said a small number of formal meetings had been cancelled and some put back beyond June 21.

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