Every year, between 1 March and 1 June an Annual Town Meeting must take place, a session chaired and convened by the Town Council over which the Town Mayor should preside. This year’s meeting will likely be remote (i.e. via Zoom) and take place on 1 June.
Normally these take place in April, before the new Mayor takes over, and are quite different to a normal meeting of the Town Council in so far that they are a meeting of the registered electors of the Town. An opportunity for the local electorate to raise local issues with Councillors and even request a poll, for which legislation exists. And visit the Town Hall!
Last year – 2020 – this meeting was cancelled due to the pandemic and no legal ruling was in place for such meeting to take place remotely. However, due to regulations in place for remote meetings to be enabled, this year’s meeting may possibly take place if it happens either before 7 May (when the current regulations cease) or after, assuming that these regulations are extended or renewed.
So, it’s all a bit up in the air. Councillors at last night’s meeting of the full town Council (Monday 1 March) decided that they wanted this meeting to take place right at the end of the permittable window, on Tuesday 1 June, thus enabling electors to meet the new Council (following the elections of 6 May). If held before the elections the Council would run the risk of breaching ‘pre-election purdah’, where Councillors standing for re-election (assuming elections actually take place) would be deemed to be at an advantage to those candidates standing against them. So 1 June it may be.
Will it be a remote (Zoom) session, or will the Town Hall be able to be open for a physical meeting by then? Or a hybrid of both? The former is most likely at this stage with a Zoom session convened, but open to all electors wishing to visit.
So a ‘Welcome to the House of Fun’ will be unlikely in 2021, but remote, via Zoom, and hopefully with no ‘Kittens’ or ‘Dogs’ as filters from participants and no echoes of the recent ‘Handforth’ style Zoom meeting.