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Local democracy: Here’s what you can do to help #KeepCouncilMeetingsVirtual!
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JuliaMumsnet · 03/05/2022 13:55

Hello!

It’s almost exactly one year since Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts wrote an open letter, signed by 227 councillors who are also parents, to then minister for local government Robert Jenrick asking him to allow local authorities the continuing option of holding meetings virtually.

The option of holding meetings remotely was introduced during the pandemic, and although the option has since been withdrawn in England, local council meetings are still held virtually in Wales and Scotland. This makes local council meetings - and therefore local democracy - more accessible, whether as a constituent or a councillor, as well as allowing more flexibility for council employees. 

We know that 83% of you want politics to be more diverse and representative and we know that things like remote meetings lead to greater diversity in councillor demographics and have been found to improve work/life balance and increase transparency and openness, as well as saving money. That's why we’re asking you to back our call to keep council meetings accessible.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Ask your local councillor(s) to propose this model motion at your local authority which officially calls for virtual meetings:

“This Council supports the petition launched by ADSO and LLG on 5 January with regard to remote and hybrid meetings. We agree to write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities calling on the Government to change the law to allow councils the flexibility to hold such meetings when they deem appropriate within agreed rules and procedures.”

HERE’S HOW:

  1. Find your local councillor(s) using this tool. 
  2. Email them - you can use our template below but it you have the time to personalise it it’s likely to be more impactful  

    And if you have a bit more time:
  3. If you have elections on Thursday 5th May, you can also write to all candidates about this. You can find who they are using the tool by Democracy Club on this page). 
  4. Tag your local councillor (and candidates if applicable) and their local party on twitter with the below image. Tag us and add #KeepCouncilVirtualMeetings so we can retweet. 
  5. And don’t forget to sign the petition if you haven’t already!

    And - importantly - keep us updated! Let us know when you’ve done this and what you hear back. 

    TEMPLATE EMAIL:

    Hello, I’m writing as one of your constituents in [INSERT YOUR WARD HERE]. I’m asking you to propose - or if it has already been proposed, to support - this model motion to your local authority to affirm its support for making primary legislation that would enable local councils to keep having the option of holding statutory meetings online. The benefits of this have been widely felt, as I’m sure you know!, and include: 
  • Increased attendances at remote meetings by both councillors and the public
  • Significant cost savings for some authorities arising from much less travel to meetings
  • The environmental benefits of less travel, particularly in the large county authorities
  • A better work/life balance for councillors and council staff
  • Improved equality of access to meetings for all and opening up opportunities for more people to stand for election as councillors
  • More transparency and openness for the public to see council meetings
  • An option to move meetings online when there are constraints such as bad weather such as snow or flooding. 

Parenting forum Mumsnet, which counts 8 million monthly users, has sent a letter to the Government supporting this and signed by over 227 councillors who are also parents. Across the world, such as Scotland and Wales, councils have this option and it’s only right that England should too. 

Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Best wishes

[YOUR NAME]”
Local democracy: Here’s what you can do to help #KeepCouncilMeetingsVirtual!
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JuliaMumsnet · 03/05/2022 15:47

Just to add, as we could have made it clearer, that this action is only for people in England, as if you're in Wales and Scotland your councils already have this option. Feel free to share our tweet though or add your thoughts on the thread!

And if you're a councillor and parent (or expectant parent), you can still add your name to our open letter here!

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ViolaDaviesFanClub · 03/05/2022 15:54

thanks - will do that now!

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