In-person council meetings set to return to civic centre

Councillors will sit in chamber but public will still have to watch online, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Enfield Civic Centre
Enfield Civic Centre

Enfield residents will be unable to attend council meetings when they go back to being held in person later this month because of “the size of rooms and social distancing measures”.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said the current practice of livestreaming meetings over the internet will continue, with recordings subsequently published on its website.

The council has been holding virtual meetings livestreamed via the internet since April last year, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

But Luke Hall, minister of state for regional growth and local government, has written to local authorities telling them the government would not extend emergency legislation allowing meetings to be held virtually.

Explaining the decision, the minister cited the “excellent progress that has been made on our vaccination programme and the announcement of the government’s roadmap for lifting Covid-19 restrictions”.

The minister said local authorities were being given support and guidance to hold face-to-face meetings in a safe and secure way. The new arrangements are in place from today, but no Enfield Council meetings are currently scheduled until Wednesday 19th March.

The council has confirmed most meetings will be held at Enfield Civic Centre, but some will require larger venues in order to meet the current social distancing requirements. Members and officers will be required to abide by government and public health guidance.

A spokesperson also confirmed public attendance “will not be possible due to the size of the meeting rooms and social distancing measures”. This approach differs from that of its neighbour in Barnet, where the public will be allowed to attend meetings at Hendon Town Hall – although there will be limits on numbers.