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Cllr Darren Ennis and Cllr Bernard Brown

Using technology is a choice and not a rule, a Burntwood councillor has said.

Cllr Darren Ennis made his comments ahead of a meeting which will decide whether his Labour colleague Cllr Bernard Brown can continue in his role after being unable to attend any meetings since the coronavirus crisis began.

A number of meetings have been moved online, but a report has revealed that the Summerfield and All Saints ward representative is “not able to use IT equipment” to participate.

Councillors will vote at a meeting of Lichfield District Council tomorrow (14th July) to decide whether to allow an extension to an attendance rule which would see him disqualified in September if he does not attend any meetings.

Cllr Ennis said that Cllr Brown – who does not have a contact email address listed on the local authority’s website – was still available for residents to get in touch by phone.

“Councils need to be diverse, have councillors of all age and Bernard is our oldest.

“He is still on the end of the phone – Lichfield District Council works beyond emails and you can phone every department.

“Bernard is one of three councillors to represent that ward. If you need to email one then there are another two.

“Using IT is a choice, it is not a rule. On the Councillor application page it doesn’t say ‘you must have the internet, your must come to online meeting in case of a pandemic’.

“These are exceptional times.”

Cllr Darren Ennis, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Ennis added the Cllr Brown’s attendance record pre-coronavirus showed why he should be granted the extension to the six month disqualification rule.

“Bernard is an excellent councillor and an asset to Burntwood and Lichfield.

“All of his work around the area and the representation before COVID-19 is exemplary.

“Once COVID-19 is done and Bernard is back out and about he will carry on attending 100% of his meetings and helping the people in his ward.”

Cllr Darren Ennis, Lichfield District Council

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7 Comments

  1. I see now why his friend is supporting him. Unfortunately what he says is rubbish. We all have to embrace technology know due to circumstances. I was told some time ago that councillors were provided with lap tops. Would be interesting to find out whether this is no longer the case.

  2. This is a farce.
    If the councillor in question had a 100% attendance record prior to Covid-19, why has it taken 4 months for it to be noticed that his record has slipped to 0%?
    At a time when the council leader is seeking to make the council more accountable and more effective in communicating with local people – despite some opposition from dinosaurs in his own party – this is not a good look.
    I have a lot of sympathy for the councillor in question. I have no patience for the council’s inability to act more quickly, more positively and more inclusively.
    As someone pointed out on the previous story, not everyone in Lichfield District is tied to their IT equipment, not everyone is comfortable using technology, not everyone can commnicate via email, social media or other online tools. Do these residents of Lichfield not matter, are their views not important, are they irrelevant in a modern world like those criticising this councillor seem to suggest?

  3. The issue is that the councillor receives an allowance, part of which is what was once the IT allowance that councillors voted to have bundled into their allowance as standard rather than being something they claimed for. If he gets the allowance and has not handed any of it back, then there is a question to ask around what on earth he has been using it for. It would buy him a lot of carrier pigeons I suppose?

  4. There is a risk here that we are assuming that Cllrs only have any influence during meetings. If my working performance was entirely measured by my attendance at meetings I’d be pretty unhappy.

    Do we know whether Cllr Brown is able to influence policy/actively represent people outside of council meetings? And if so, does he? Surely that’s an important question to have answered before we all get very excited about this.

  5. Sorry. Any other job, you have to embrace technology.

    It’s like saying, “I don’t have a phone and don’t have to use one, you can send me a letter” in 1990.

  6. We live in a world where you have to be able to handle some level of I. T. Throughout this crisis my grandchildren have been educated online. They are eight and have adapted marvolously.
    To just log on to an activity is soon learned. I would suspect most contributers to Lichfield Live are not in the first flush of youth. We have all had to master the process.
    The councillor should not let his inexperience be a barrier to carrying out his civic duties. There is more than a chance this virus will be around long term. My wife was a computer phobic but now uses the internet as though she was born to it. Is there no one in the area who can ‘show him the ropes?’ There is no disgrace in having to learn new tricks.

  7. Many people can not handle computers etc.
    This is no reason to get rid of him.
    If it’s not on the job requirements why is it wrong?
    Hopefully he may have lessons and gradually gain confidence.
    Good luck to him.

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