Thursday, 5 November 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
116. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if guidelines have been issued to date to local authorities in relation to council meetings convened in a virtual space or on an online platform; if there are plans to issue guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34288/20]
117. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the details of training or plans for training in relation to the use of virtual space or online platforms for councillors and local authority staff conducting council-related business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34289/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 117 together.
On 20 October 2020, I signed the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (Section 29) (Local Authorities) (Designation) Order 2020 (S.I. No. 445 of 2020). This Order designates local authorities under Section 29 of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, allowing for council meetings and meetings of local authority committees to be held remotely.
Having consulted with councillor representative organisations, the County and City Management Assocition (CCMA) and other stakeholders in recent weeks, my Department issued a circular on 30 October 2020 setting out guidelines for supplementary Standing Orders regulating the proceedings of remote meetings of the Council. These are intended as a useful guide to elected councils in formulating their own supplementary standing orders for remote meetings.
Since 2010 every local authority is required to adopt an annual Training and Development Programme for elected members, the objective of which is to support in a structured way the development needs of elected members. Under section 142(5)(A) of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended, an annual training budget is provided to cover necessary relevant training for members on the basis that attendance at training events is of benefit both to individual councillors and the people they represent. A decision in relation to attendance at a training event is a reserved function of the elected Council.
It is a matter for the local authority to assess the training needs of its staff and meets those needs insofar as possible within available resources.
118. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will address a matter (details supplied) in relation to alternative and remote working; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34365/20]
Further to the increasing phenomenon of people working remotely from home arising from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the likelihood that this practice will continue into the future, I can confirm that my Department will undertake a review of planning matters relating to home offices, including the exempted development provisions in this regard.
As per to the reply to your Dáil Question no. 145 answered on 13 October 2020, a wide range of exemptions from planning permission are already provided for under Section 4 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended and under Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 as amended. Such exemptions are provided for when they are considered to be consistent with proper planning and sustainable development.
In the meantime, if a person wishes to establish whether or not planning permission is required for a specific development proposal, they can seek a declaration from their local authority under section 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.