Posted: Thu 19th Mar 2020

Conwy Council leader to be given emergency powers because of coronavirus pandemic

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 19th, 2020

The leader of a council will make delegated decisions on council matters for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conwy council’s top elected official, councillor Sam Rowlands, is expected to be handed the emergency powers at next week’s cabinet meeting.

The agenda for the forum on Tuesday, March 24, allows for him to “determine any issue which would have otherwise come to a Cabinet meeting for a decision”.

Normal council reports will still be circulated to council members five days before any decision and cabinet members will still be consulted via email.

Members will be invited to submit comments via email direct to the leader and all decisions “subject to normal urgency and other exemption from call in provisions” will be able to be “called in”.

This means a minimum of three councillors can ask for any decision to be re-examined by Cabinet within five days of the relevant cabinet minutes being published.

The decision means Conwy will not hold any public meetings until restrictions on public gatherings are lifted.

Cllr Rowlands said: “The decisions will still be made public and there will be opportunities for those decisions to be called-in.

“It’s about dealing with things quickly and not having groups of people being in the same room.

“Every council in Wales will be doing something similar. Reports will still have to be produced five days in advance as usual.”

The constitution of the council does allow for such extreme measures and it is likely that the situation will continue for at least the next two months.”

Cllr Brian Cossey, Welsh Liberal Democrat member for Colwyn ward, said he could understand the decision.

He said: “It’s quite a reasonable step to take because it’s going to be very difficult to have any meetings.

“I think it’s OK as long as we are kept fully informed and we can make representations to the leader.

“If we don’t like the decisions being made there’s always the calling in procedure.”

He added: “It’s quite an unusual situation. I’ve seen nothing like this in my lifetime.”

Neighbouring Denbighshire council has also cancelled all meetings and a similar announcement about delegated decisions is expected soon.

By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter

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