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A petition has been launched calling for Lichfield District Council to holding online meetings.
It comes after the local authority’s leader, Cllr Doug Pullen, said he hoped such a move would enable a more diverse range of people to become elected representatives.
The Conservative-controlled council has switched to online meetings during the coronavirus crisis.
But Cllr Pullen said the continuation of such a move would allow parents and people who work to consider putting themselves forward for election in future.
The proposal didn’t go well with all councillors though, with Cllr Pullen’s Conservative colleague Cllr Derick Cross saying the local authority “should never give up the tradition of full council meetings being held in the chamber and properly dressed for the occasion of serious business decision-making”.
He added that councillors should “not be seen dressed sloppy in the garden or toy strewn room, baby in our arms”.
But Lorna Langdon, who has launched the online petition, said it was important the council reflected all residents.
“I have started this petition to demonstrate support for the continuation of online council meetings and to ask Cllr Cross to publicly retract his comments and to issue a public apology.
“He has offended many people with his out-of-touch, out-dated and discriminatory comments.”Lorna Langdon
Lorna said it was important to show that equality of opportunity was there for all who wanted to be councillors.
“As a holder of public office and role model, Cllr Cross should be embracing equality and actively be embedding it into the council’s policies and practices.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many councils to switch to holding sessions online since in-person gatherings have not been possible.
“This has led to greater engagement, since the rigidity of the traditional in-person 6pm council meetings has typically excluded those with young families, nine-to-five-ers, commuters and night-workers.
“By objecting to continuing to allow members to connect remotely to meetings it is promoting indirect discrimination.”Lorna Langdon
“Risk turning this council into some kind of a circus and failure”
In his email to the Conservative group and local MPs, Cllr Cross said the issue of continuing with online meetings should have been debated before being discussed in public by Cllr Pullen.
“If councillors are not able to put the time and effort into attending meetings and look the part they have been elected to do no matter what age they might be, then they should not be councillors and risk turning this council into some kind of a circus and failure.
“Before promoting this to media outlets wouldn’t it have been proper to measure the public interest once people are back to work for comparison, and then debate the proposal at a group or full council meeting?”Cllr Derick Cross, Lichfield District Council
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