New County Councils Network and Zoom report backs NALC call for remote meeting powers


A new report by the County Councils Network (CCN) and Zoom has backed the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) calls for councils to have the flexibility to hold remote meetings.

The report says moving permanently to a hybrid model of both online and in-person council meetings would improve the diversity of local councils, which NALC has argued in support of remote meetings as part of its Make A Change campaign.

The survey found:

  • 92% of councillors under the age of 44 and 61% of those aged 65 and over said that adopting a hybrid model would help improve the diversity of councils. 85% of female councillors said such a model would enable a better councillor-life balance. Just 11% of respondents to the survey were under the age of 44.
  • A majority of councillors (51%) said adopting a hybrid model which enables local people to watch all meetings online would make their council more accessible and accountable to their residents. 69% of respondents said video conferencing had helped them engage with community groups during the pandemic. 
  • Over two-thirds of councillors (70%) said a hybrid model would cut down on travel expenses for their local authority, and three quarters (76%) said it would cut down on their carbon footprint. One councillor in a rural county estimated such a model could cut down on 1,000 miles for them a year.
  • 71% of councillors said they expect their local authority to adopt a hybrid model that mixes most of their staff's remote and office work. During the pandemic, 83% of respondents said they spent at least six hours a week video conferencing during the pandemic's lockdowns – with 27% doing at least fifteen hours a week. Before that pandemic struck, just 12% of councillors said they had participated in council meetings online.

Cllr Keith Stevens, NALC chair, said: "NALC wholeheartedly welcomes and supports this latest research by CCN and Zoom and fully supports calls from across local government and beyond for councils at all levels to have the ability to hold remote and hybrid council meetings.

"As the first tier of local government, England's 10,000 local (parish and town) councils made up the most significant part of local government to adapt to new ways of working, including holding remote meetings during the pandemic. Councils have already told NALC they saw an increase in meetings attendance, including the public and MPs, decreased carbon emissions and meetings related costs, and better work-life balance for councillors who work or have caring responsibilities.

"That's why we were disappointed the recent Queen's Speech did not announce a bill to allow councils to hold online and hybrid council meetings. There is simply no downside to the government in giving councils as local leaders this flexibility so their communities can benefit from online and in-person meetings. It would also be consistent with their levelling up ambitions to empower communities."

Read the report in full

Join NALC's first-ever hybrid conference
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