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LLG reminds members on operation of ‘6 Month Rule’ as lockdown milestone looms

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) has issued a reminder to its members on the disqualification of councillors under the ‘6 Month Rule’.

Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 states that a member of a local authority loses office if they do not attend a meeting at least once in any six-month period.

LLG said it was aware of a handful of cases where councillors had been disqualified for non-attendance under this provision.  

The organisation said: “Given we are fast approaching the six-month point since lock-down, you may well have members who are on the verge of falling foul of this provision.

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“Despite the virtual attendance provisions contained within The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020, not all members (for a variety of reasons) have been able to meet the attendance requirement.”

It added: “Given local government elections (including by-elections) are currently postponed until May 2021, seats from disqualified members will remain vacant until such time an election takes place after that date. This will inevitably lead to a loss of democratic representation in specific local communities.

“To prevent disqualification, many local authorities have explicitly reminded members of the six-month provision whilst some have given blanket dispensation at full council. Those unable to convene a full council meeting have provided ‘blanket’ dispensations under their urgent decision-making provisions. Democratic Service Officers have also played an important role by tracking the attendance of members and making contact with those nearing the six-month period.”

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