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29 May 2020

Publish date: 29/05/2020

Local democratic participation and engagement has seen a dramatic increase since the onset of the Virtual Hearing Regulations, enabling members of the public to easily 'attend' an array of council meetings and committees which is a positive outcome in these challenging times, as individuals participate in the democratic process who may never had done so before.

Whilst local authorities appear (as ever) to have adapted quickly and rather impressively to the new provisions, with the government announcing a continual easing of lockdown measures from next week, many members are now considering how blended or hybrid meetings (where meetings are held both in person and virtually) might play out. There are a number of increased challenges in chairing and participating in a hybrid meeting and LLG will be considering these challenges with a view to providing some guidance on this area soon.

Whilst the world moves increasingly online, social media is now burgeoning with increased traffic, all of which has the potential to court controversy if not properly considered and thought through. The reactive, instant nature of social media means that even the most well intentioned might inadvertently fall foul of unacceptable tweets. As one councillor put it after apologising for causing offence without intention; ".. it was 3:30am – I was tired and not thinking clearly". Helpfully, LLG's Covid-19 Weekly Update this week was on the 'Use and Abuse of Social Media'. This Part 1 webinar was presented by David Kitson and Sarah Lamont form Bevan Brittan and examined the legal risks and possible claims including indemnities. Part 2 will be aired towards the end of June and will be accompanied by the launch of LLG's Social Media Guidance.

You can catch up on all our webinars on demand here on such topics as planning, the work place, wellbeing, state aid, procurement and many more. Don't forget also our weekly LLG Grapevine podcast; twenty minutes of chatty, local government legal news, described by listeners as entertaining, informative and excellent.

With best wishes

Helen McGrath

Head of Public Affairs