Fresh calls have been made for online council meetings to continue beyond the current coronavirus crisis.

Lichfield District Council House

A motion will be put to Lichfield District Council at a meeting on 13th October.

It has been proposed by Cllr Diane Evans, deputy leader of the Labour opposition group:

“This council commends the work of the officers to support the transition of council and committee meetings to an online format in the face of social distancing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This council further understands that the use of new technology represents an opportunity for current and future elected representatives to engage a wider audience in its work, including parents or guardians with young children, commuters, shift workers and those with mobility problems.

This council resolves to continue the use of virtual meetings while social distancing restrictions remain in place and to actively consider ways of integrating video conferencing and the online streaming of council and committee meetings when restrictions are lifted, so that it can continue to engage with the wider community.” 

Motion from Cllr Diane Evans

The issue of online meetings has been a talking point in recent months with Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the council, saying it would encourage a more diverse group of people to consider standing at elections.

But one of his Conservative colleagues criticised the suggestion over concerns about people having children with them in digital meetings as well as questioning the way some members were dressed for sessions.

Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour group at Lichfield District Council, said he believed there was a role for online meetings to play in future:

“While there has been some resistance to holding virtual meetings in some quarters it is believed a number will continue even after coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.

“It is hoped that this may encourage people to stand for election who have been reluctant or felt intimidated in the past by the difficulty in getting to meetings because of their caring responsibilities.” 

Cllr Steve Norman

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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1 Comment

  1. If councillors are not prepared to continue with online meetings and are not willing to embrace new technology and engaging with the residents of LDC in such ways then they are not capable of doing their job properly. We are facing new ways of working, interacting with family and friends and generally getting on with life, what makes councillors any different?
    I applaud Cllr Pullen’s efforts in encouraging these moves, although hopefully LDC will not lose sight of the fact that online engagement is not necessarily suitable for all. If this is about inclusivity then all forms of communication and engagement must remain wherever possible.
    However, councillors today should be comfortable with new technology and should be able to conduct their council business online without any misgivings or indeed mishaps.

    If councillors fail to understand any of this then they must be stopped for the good of the residents of LDC.

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