Follow us on Twitter

What if members cant/wont make use of Virtual Meetings?

0 votes

Without consultation the majority of elected members simply received summons (with the only difference meeting location is "virtual").  My personal view is the legislation gave corporate bodies the "power" to hold virtual meetings it certainly did not compel/force them to do so.  Id have liked to have seen proper dialogue between members & officers to understand practicalities and determine when best to resume (and done so in managed staged way).  Instead "they" have simply assumed everyone has necessary equipment and ploughing on with a full civic program all be it digitally.  

  1. Should members have been consulted prior to issuing of said summons?
  2. Should the body have made provisions to ensure ALL members are able to participate in decision making?
  3. If a % of members (half of members) do not have sufficient internet (very very rural village), or IT equipment (some have type writers some less extreme examples have a computer but simply no web cam and certainly no mobile phone).  Is it fair and reasonably to effectively exclude them from decisions?  Should things not be put in place to try to mitigate this prior to full resumption.  Am not really sure just about achieving quorum is sufficient ( i compare it to placing hurdles at the church door for our meetings and only letting in those who can.. without help)  
I wanted a carefully managed phased managed return.  Taking into account a number of members have been unwell, number of members actually essential workers to working flat out.  Resumption of essential business initially (providing accountability to any previously delegated functions).  Alas seems expectation is we will be talking about everything including the the village greens water feature once more all from the get go.  
Many Thanks. Best Wishes.  Welcome thoughts 
asked by (900 points)

3 Answers

+2 votes

The matter greatly depends on the demographics of your parish council and if there were concerns about the technical capability of councillors, then a discussion / consultation should have taken place.  But the choice is simple.  You either have virtual meetings or delegate authority to the Clerk to act on your behalf.  There is no real alternative in the current situation.

It seems that before the decision was made, an audit of IT capacity should have been taken and practical issues addressed to allow full participation in the proposed meetings.  However, if it is a case that the councillors do not want to take part in virtual meetings then they should be recorded as absent through choice and could lose their place if absent for 6 months.

In our situation, we have greatly pared down the meeting calendar and will only discuss items that need discussing rather than allowing for a social get together.  I have ensured that all councillors are able to join the meeting and it has worked very well, allowing councillors to meet together and link up in a time of social isolation.

answered by (9.5k points)
+2 votes
Some of the video conferencing options allow participation by telephone, so there is no IT or smartphone requirement. This allows individuals to participate fully in the meeting, but their face cannot be seen by others and they, of course, cannot see anything. This is also an option that could be offered to satisfy the public access requirements.

I certainly support MrsAbster's suggestion that this is a time for essential business only.
answered by (15.9k points)
Thanks DtC.  It frustrates me when I hear that councillors are refusing to use technology and stubbornly sticking to ancient methods as that, to me, questions their ability to make decisions on behalf of a society that is using these programmes.  It doesn't really smack of being a progressive council, does it?
Thanks.  I would note locally some seemed to suddenly be unable to the moment it was pointed out press & public would be able to watch (and indeed record).  I couldn't possibly comment whether the two things are connected...
Is there a difference between the press and public attending a face-to-face meeting and a virtual one? Those rules haven't changed. Don't get me started on open and accountable local government!
0 votes
Council meetings are open to the public unless a valid reason for exclusion is given, and the agenda and summons must specify the location. Virtual meetings have recently been  permitted, as legislation, has been  changed but they have to take place at a designated location. The only legal way that might be acceptable w to permit public participation would be  to live stream the meeting, in which case the streaming URL would be the location. If cllrs won',t avail themselves with technology, you could argue they are failing to serve their partitioners.
answered by (10.7k points)
edited by

Welcome to Town & Parish Councillor Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community. All genuine questions and answers are welcome. Follow us on Twitter to see the latest questions as they are asked - click on the image button above or follow @TownCouncilQA. Posts from new members may be delayed as we are unfortunately obliged to check each one for spam. Spammers will be blacklisted.

You may find the following links useful:

We have a privacy policy and a cookie policy.

Google Analytics Alternative