The Local Government (Electronic Communications) Order (England) 2015, which enables the use of electronic communications to local authority members, will come into force on the 30th January.
The process for updated legislation started in July 2012 when Simon Hill, Assistant Director: Governance and Performance Management at Epping Forest District Council researched the legal implications of sending papers to their Councillors electronically. When finding that the law actually made this illegal, even if a councillor does not want paper copies, the council resolved to write to Minister Eric Pickles to see if he would change the law. They argued that the original law predated and could not have predicted the internet. The Country was using a law that was 40 years out of date. This Order modifies provisions in Schedule 12 to the Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70)
Simon Hill, said: “At Epping it opens up much more cost effective processes. Currently we use a courier to deliver to 58 addresses in person twice a week. I don’t see it as revolutionary but no longer are we prevented from being evolutionary. In implementation we must think about the effect on in house printing and administration sections but the potential for savings is enormous.”
17 Councils joined Epping Forest in their request for change. Letters from ADSO, sustained tweeting at #askpickles events and collective tweeting at the recent ADSO conference have elicited the new order.
Allowing members to be more digital is an important part of our Networked Councillor programme which is designed to give elected members the tools they need to effectively communicate, collaborate and co-produce with their communities in the digital world.
Simon Hill, continued: “We will see how adaptable members are going forward but at Epping they have embraced new technology. In 2005 many members didn’t have an email address or even a PC and we are now seeing technology routinely used by 50% of members at meetings. There are exciting times ahead.”