Continuing with online streaming of meetings will encourage a more diverse range of people to consider standing for election, a Burntwood councillor has said.
A motion was tabled – and passed – at a meeting of Lichfield District Council earlier this week.
It came in the wake of comments by the vice-chairman of the council, Cllr Derick Cross], criticising meetings where councillors were “properly dressed for the occasion” or had babies in their arms.
Cllr Diane Evans, deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, said:
“Many felt this was totally unfair and uncalled for, as it is the quality and commitment of work as a councillor that should be our main aim and always uppermost in our minds.
“Virtual meetings open up so many opportunities for a much wider audience to view proceedings.
“They may also encourage a more diverse cross section of people to consider becoming councillors, including young parents or guardians, commuters, shift workers and those with a disability, but Cllr Cross seemed to imply we should carry on in the old manner of conducting meetings at the council, without any consideration given to the advantages of using modern technology.
“It was agreed that council actively considers ways of integrating video conferencing and the online streaming of meetings, even when restrictions are lifted, in order to engage with the wider community.”Cllr Di Evans, Lichfield District Council
“It is time he considers his position”
Cllr Evans said the vice chairman – who was not in attendance at the full council meeting where the motion was passed – should now consider his own position.
“The views off Cllr Cross were not supported by the majority of councillors.
“In view of his statement, I really feel it is time he considers his position as vice chairman of Lichfield District Council as his opinion certainly does not reflect the unanimous views of other councillors or the general public to embrace new technology.”Cllr Di Evans, Lichfield District Council
Among those who backed the motion was Conservative councillor Liz Little. She said:
“Being a new mother, with full time work and a councillor, I welcome this motion.
“It will hopefully bring us a diverse mix of councillors going forward.”Cllr Liz Little, Lichfield District Council
Fellow new parent, Cllr Wai-Lee Ho, said embracing online technology had allowed him to continue to carry out his role.
“I am also a parent who had a daughter back in April and it has made it a lot easier for me to perform my councillor and parent duties as well.”Cllr Wai-Lee Ho, Lichfield District Council