Agenda Item: URGENT BUSINESS Report PR20/21-18 Appendix 1
Addendum to approved Annual Governance Statement 2019/20 produced to provide an up to date
commentary on the Authority’s governance response to the Covid-19 pandemic
The following should be read in conjunction with the Annual Governance Statement approved by
the Policy and Resources Committee on 16 July 2020
1.1 The Authority responded positively to the implementation of The Local Authorities and
Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime
Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020, which enable national park
authorities to hold meetings in public by electronic means, in order to operate effectively
during the period of the pandemic. The Authority undertook a thorough review of its
Standing Orders and associated processes and agreed to make temporary updates to its
Standing Orders, to be effective for the period during which the regulations apply, in order
to enable the Authority to make full use of the flexibilities granted by the regulations. These
updates made provision for the attendance at meetings of Members and members of the
public by virtual methods and the publication or provision of meeting documentation by
electronic methods. The updates provide for both virtual and hybrid meetings (where some
attendees are physically in a room together and some are attending by electronic means) to
allow for a phased return to normal democratic processes. The updates make provision for
the conduct of these meetings.
1.2 Virtual Meetings under the new regulations have taken place for the NPA, the Policy and
Resources Committee and the Planning Committee and monitoring of performance, finance
and ongoing updates to the Corporate Risk Register to also reflect issues arising from the
pandemic situation has continued throughout the pandemic period. In addition, the
Authority agreed to amend the Chief Executive’s urgency powers to enable consultation
with a wider group of individuals in order to ensure that the ability to take urgent decisions
on behalf of the NPA can continue in a situation of wide-spread illness.
1.3 Any attendance by officers or members at the Authority offices is on the basis of business
need and in accordance with government regulations and health and safety requirements.
These requirements include the production of risk assessments for activities undertaken by
staff and members.
1.4 Member training and engagement activity has also continued using on-line “virtual meeting”
software. A programme of “micro forums” has been introduced. These are on line
workshop style events aimed at ensuring members continue to play their full role in guiding
the development of Authority policy. Micro forums have been held on cultural heritage, the
emerging planning white paper, development of the Authority’s trading company
arrangements, the Authority’s response to the climate change emergency and how the
Authority and National Park respond to the “new normal”.
1.5 The Coronavirus pandemic meant that the planned audit of Procurement and Contract
Management was suspended and will therefore be considered for inclusion within the
Authority’s 2020/21 audit plan. Some decisions were delayed by the introduction of the new
regulations and new ways of committee working, however as our experience and ability to
deliver on line meetings has significantly improved over the period since May these decisions
are now being rescheduled. These decisions include changes to the Members Code of
Conduct, Financial Regulations and procedure rules and Contract Standing Orders and the
delay in these decisions has not unduly impacted upon the operation of the governance of
the Authority.
Agenda Item: URGENT BUSINESS Report PR20/21-18 Appendix 1
1.6 Changes to the Authority’s events programme to deliver events virtually in 2020 has
resulted in the widening of the audiences reached, both geographically and demographically.
The virtual Wild Chalk Festival, which took place over 6 days, and was delivered via a range
of social media platforms reached over 85,000 people and generated 14,000 engagements
(comments, likes etc.). Analysis has shown that whilst most people logged in from the
Brighton and Hove area where the normal festival would run, 14,000 people attended from
London, who would have not normally engaged in the physical event. Other events in the
2020 season have been redeveloped to run in a similar style with similar levels of success.
Content form these events remain available on the Authority’s social media channels, and
continue to reach and engage audiences.
1.7 Changes have been made to the way the Authority undertakes site visits for the purposes of
planning, planning enforcement and the operation of the Planning Committee. Site visits by
officers are compliant with social distancing and other requirements to ensure the safety of
staff and the public. Site visits by the Planning Committee have not yet resumed, however
additional briefing materials are being provided to Members of the Committee to aid their
understanding of sites.
1.8 The induction of new Members has been reviewed and delivered online, including a virtual
tour of the National Park and online roundtable sessions with SMT and Committee Chairs
and Deputies to ensure that new Members joining the Authority during the pandemic have
been be to fully engage in the work of the Authority.
1.9 Significant decisions taken by the Authority since the production of the 2019-20 Annual
Governance Statement include:
A decision to establish a company limited by shares to deliver activities for a commercial
purpose to support the diversification of Authority income.
The establishment of a Covid recovery fund to support organisations within the National
Park through the allocation of grants to support Covid recovery related projects.
A review of the Members Allowances Scheme has been agreed and implemented.
Chief Executive Officer
Date 25/9/2020
On behalf of the SDNPA