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Return to face to face meetings

0 votes
It is on the news about face to face council meetings resuming.
How is this going to work with a mixture of "vulnerable" councillors, some of whom only have had one vaccine mixing with some who work in the hospitality business who are not eligible for the vaccine yet. The same could go for the public attendees.

Unless the forthcoming court case allows hybrid meeting, we may run in to trouble if a councillor refuses to attend on health and safety grounds. If we class them as non attendance - are we discriminating? If we rule they have to attend and a covid outbreak is traced to the parish council meeting, how do we stand?.
Has anyone got any thoughts on this please.
by (5.9k points)

3 Answers

0 votes
I do not see any reason to over engineer the requirements of returning to open meetings in person. Most councils will meet in village or Parish Halls and as such these venues will have carried out their covid risk assessments and published their requirements for opening to the public. It will be a requirement on users to comply with these laid down rules ( one of which will be registration of attendees for track and trace via scanning Q codes or physical recording by the venue.

Follow the rules and there is no  "come back".

Now ensuring people that it is safe to return ( including councillors) is of course a matter of education on sometimes over hyped threat levels and is the main job which you will have to undertake rather than throwing people out over non attendance when they may have a genuinely held fear of danger to their health. Kid gloves and an understanding attitude by council rather than follow the rule book blindly could be the solution.
by (16.1k points)
You missed my point if a councillor does not feel it is safe is it non attendance ?

If we count it as non attendance as above are we discriminating bearing in mind most vulnerable people have a medical condition.
No I didn't miss the point. A councillor if not attending sends their apologies to be accepted or rejected  by the council. If rejected it counts towards the six month rule for removal.
Councillors ( not the Clerk or the Chair) must decide democratically whether the reason for non attendance is sufficient for acceptance or not. In this sort of rather unique situation feeling unsafe is not a usual reason and as such must be seen to be treated by councillors with an equal unique solution of support, re-assurance and education as to safety of a councillor. Kid gloves rather than rule book.
I think there's a case for accepting non-attendance in May for people who have not received their second vaccination, but after June 21st, perhaps less so. Bearing in mind the fact that we're expected to hold hybrid meetings (don't ask me how!) a non-attending councillor could participate virtually.

However, as elected representatives, members should show leadership as life returns to normal after the pandemic, so they need to strike a balance.
0 votes
We all seem to have a complete nightmare to deal with. One of my Village Halls is not even going to open until mid June. There is no where else in the Parish to meet We are a tiny parish with 6 Cllrs and a £7000 precept - we own no premises, have no office etc  !! So its going to have to be Online.
'We' are still recommended to 'work from home' !!

Fingers crossed for the hybrid being approved.

We will all be on One maybe two Injections by the 7th May - Very difficult and no ideas I think our associations are all sitting with fingers crossed we get the court appeal approved !!
by (1.5k points)
0 votes
There have been definite advantages to online meetings - most notably (IMHO) notably improved attendance rates from the public.  Much easier to sit at home with a beer and watch the proceedings rather than to haul oneself out on a cold, dark, wet Winters night to sit in a (probably) cold, dark, wet, hall to listen to cold, dark and wet parish councillors....

There are also some drawbacks where autonomous action like exclusions from the meeting can be implemented with the press of a button rather than facing the reality of having to do it in person - that dreadful episode which was all over the news for example.

The system has been 'proved' and delivered via online streaming, I'd like that to continue whatever the new 'normal' turns out to be.  Perhaps a hybrid in-person and live streamed with both councillors and public able to choose which best suits themself.

Oh, wait a minute, common sense will never prevail in a system where bureaucracy prevails....
by (6.3k points)
Yes think hybrid is best of both worlds
What a cold, dark, wet world you've been experiencing. You must be longing for summer!

Seriously though, as I've mentioned on previous discussions on this topic, virtual meetings have been a disaster for my councils on public engagement. We're down more than 95% on previous attendances. Our regular attendees are generally elderly with no access to IT, but they enjoy an evening in our warm, well-lit, dry village halls (where, incidentally, we have no wifi, so can't offer a hybrid format).
Spring is my favourite season (esp if there’s an election )

Appreciate the point about more elderly parishioners preferring physical meetings - not to be underestimated in any event.
What this actually throws up though, is the glaring lack of engagement with parishioners in the mid or younger age brackets.
Protect (and maybe improve) engagement with an existing cohort - definitely.
Reach out and engage those that are NOT currently engaged - absolutely definitely.

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