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Local councils have been told to postpone all elections and annual meetings, usually held in May, until next year as a result of the corona virus pandemic, writes Richard Thomas.
 
It means there are unlikely to be any changes of mayor this year.
 
Minister for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick has also written to all local councils telling them that under the new Coronavirus Act they can now hold ‘virtual’ meetings legally using the internet.
In the guidance to council received yesterday (6 April) Mr Kenrik said: ‘We have in the last week made two sets of regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020. The first set enables all local authority meetings before 7 May 2021 to be held remotely and removes the requirement for the annual meeting this year.
 
‘The second set postpones until 6 May 2021 local by-elections and other polls, either scheduled or which would otherwise arise before that date.’
 
Lead member for governance at Shaftesbury Town Council Councillor Andy Hollingshead today (7 April) said: ‘The new legislation came into force at the end of last week and we have now had guidance as of yesterday.
‘These enable all councils – parish and county – to legally hold online meetings.’
He said Shaftesbury council had already started meeting using the application known as ‘Zoom’ used by government ministers.
‘As far as our annual meeting and mayor-making this year goes it looks like it will be suspended until next year.’

The first formal meeting under the new system is an extraordinary meeting of the council on Tuesday 14 April at 10am.
Members of the public can join in by clicking on a special link on the agenda on the council’s website at www.shaftesbury-tc.gov.uk.

Gillingham Town Council’s planning committee will hold a planning meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday 14 April via Skype.
Press and public may join this meeting by telephone (01305) 228020 quoting conference ID no. 4215616#

The agenda can be seen on the council’s website.
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