Hertfordshire councillors could opt out of meetings if Covid 19 is reason, says proposal

If approved, the measure would remain in place until the annual meeting of the full council next year

New rules are being considered that could allow members of Hertfordshire County Council to opt out of meetings during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Hertfordshire County Council offices

Hertfordshire County Council offices

Currently council members who fail to attend meetings of the council or its committees for a period of six months cease to be councillor – unless their absence is due to an approved reason.

But at a meeting of the full council next week (March 24), members will be asked to consider whether Covid 19 should be an approved reason for absence.

And – according to the proposal – that would cover both councillors who may not ‘be’ able to attend and those who may not ‘feel’ able to attend, as a result of the virus.

“In view of the current public health emergency relating to Covid 19, which has now been declared a pandemic by the World HeaIth Organisation, there is a possibility that a member or members may not be or feel able to attend a meeting or meetings,” says the report to the full council.

“In order to prevent a member or members from ceasing to member of the council in such circumstances, the council is being requested to approve such a failure to attend as a reason for non-attendance . . . ”

If approved, the measure would remain in place until the annual meeting of the full council next year (2021).

According to the report it would cover those infected by the virus, suspected of having it, in quarantine or self-isolating on the advice of a public authority or health professional.

It would also cover those members who have concerns that they may contract or become infected with the virus – or those acting on advice or instruction from a public authority.

The meeting of the full council will be held on Tuesday 24 March, at 10am. Members of the public can attend.