A skeleton cabinet has agreed new emergency powers to allow the leader to make executive decisions due a ban on public gatherings caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Five members of Conwy council’s cabinet sat to discuss the new measures at this afternoon’s meeting at its county hall offices in Bodlondeb.

It means that the authority’s Leader, Councillor Sam Rowlands, can now make decisions that would normally have come before cabinet without a vote, but after consultation with cabinet members and the appropriate chairs of scrutiny committees.

However in circumstances that require “urgency” he can make executive decisions without consultation.

Normal reports will still have to be circulated to all councillors five working days before meetings, they can also lodge comments with the leader and decisions can still be “called-in” by a quorum of three councillors or more.

Calling in is a process where councillors unhappy with a decision can force cabinet to look at it again – as long as they do so within five days of the minutes being published.

Governance and Performance lead member, Cllr Chris Cater, outlined the proposal. He said: “I would like to assure all 59 members these measures will only be in place for as long as necessary.

“It proposes, as long as is reasonable necessary and because of the coronavirus outbreak, the leader to make a decision on any issue that would normally come to cabinet.”

What was unclear was how this affects the reporting and scrutiny of meetings by the press and public.

Meetings in the main are open to press and public, who can also view all cabinet meetings and many others via webcast on the council’s website.

The meeting also heard that more legislation is being prepared in the coming days to allow planning committees and full council meetings to be held using remote technology.

In law, such meetings those involved have to be in the same room but it is anticipated new powers, again drafted in because of the pandemic, will relax these rules.