THE power to decide when and how local councils meet will rest with the Department for Communities (DfC), once the Coronavirus Bill becomes law.
The Bill, which is expected to receive royal assent and become law by Thursday at the latest, states that a “relevant national authority” will be able to decide on the requirements to hold local authority meetings.
It is also made clear, that in relation to Northern Ireland, the relevant national authority is the Department for Communities and that the term local authority relates to district councils.
The proposed legislation also gives the DfC power to decide the frequency of each council meeting, the locations of the meeting, how people will attend and who may “speak at, vote in, or otherwise participate in” council meetings.
The Department will also have the authority to decide if the public will have access to these meetings and how documents relating to local authorities will be open to inspection or if they will be made available to members of the public.
These powers will remain with the Department and will apply to any meeting required to be held, or held, before 7th May, 2021.
The Coronavirus Bill, is a 329 page piece of emergency legislation that will give the Government wide-ranging powers.
These powers will, Health Minister Matt Hancock MP claims, be used “only when strictly necessary”.
At the time of writing the Coronavirus Bill is still awaiting royal assent.