Coronavirus in Leeds: All Leeds Council meetings suspended due to Covid-19 outbreak

Leeds City Council has announced it has suspended all its meetings for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 10:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 10:52 am

The authority already confirmed on its monthly meetings calendar that its meetings in public, including plans panels and the decision-making executive board, would be cancelled for the remainder of this week.

A spokesperson for the council has now confirmed next week’s full council meeting has also been cancelled, and that senior council officers would be making any urgent decisions until powers were passed down from government to allow councillors to work remotely.

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “The Prime Minister has made it clear that everyone should now stop non-essential contact and unnecessary travel. He has stated that, wherever possible, people should work from home. These are very significant measures which will clearly impact on our approach to our committee meetings and governance arrangements.

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Civic Hall will be closed to public meetings for the foreseeable future.

“Following consultation and agreement by the Lord Mayor we have cancelled next week’s full council meeting.

“However, council business will continue, albeit in a different way.

“We are currently awaiting emergency powers from government to allow urgent business to be conducted by councillors remotely. In the meantime, we have extensive officer delegations in place for the majority of our functions to enable decision making to continue.

“We will continue to fully engage with councillors to ensure that the necessary democratic legitimacy for decisions is maintained.

The statement claimed any time-sensitive planning decisions would be ‘led’ by the authority’s chief planning officer, while forthcoming licensing committee decisions will be reviewed by the chief elections and regulatory officer.

It added: “Where councillor decision making is required, we will consider delaying these until anticipated emergency powers allow meetings to be conducted by councillors remotely.”

The spokesperson added that councillors’ surgeries should stop, but that members would continue speaking to constituents via ‘alternatives to face-to-face meetings’.”

A private meeting is set to take place among senior councillors this afternoon to discuss the impact of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week advised against any ‘non-essential’ travel and advised individuals to work from home if they could.

It was also confirmed last week that the 2020 local elections, expected to take place in May, would be postponed for one year.