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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 Di Evans

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”

Derick Cross

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

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9 Comments

  1. This makes total sense, especially as we enter another uncertain period of time when traditional ways of doing things are going to be seriously effected. The traditional way is defective in the surrent climate and those who do not recognise this as a fact of life are living in a “dream world”.

    Perhaps for the benefit of those of us who have no wish to indulge in social media like Twitters and Facebook but are still capable of accessing the “internet” and websites likes this councillors should write more comments on here. They talk about engaging with us, so here is your chance to do that.

    We do not have a proper old fashioned newspaper in this area – I have yet to see this new Chronicle paper and have yet to meet anyone who has read a copy. So this is our main source of news for the area now. It is also an excellent “online” publication that treats the news properly and informs us of what we need to know.

    But apart from a few councillors who contribute on here we generally just get silence from councillors. They are supposed to be representing us, so how about listening to us and talking to us as well?

    I am all for these changes and new ways of doing things. But that should mean more than sitting at home with your video on talking at council meetings.

    I am a Conservative supporter, but rarely hear anything from members of my party. I would hate to think they follow our MP who only seems to want to take part in idle chit-chat on social media. I have been waiting for months for an adequate response to a question regarding businesses in our area. Apart from an initial one-line answer I have heard nothing since. New technology is wonderful, but only if people use it properly. So the council needs to widen its “horizons” a bit more.

  2. Cllr Pullen – many thanks for your response to my comment. It is helpful and I do recall your earlier statement on this subject.
    I think you may be missing a trick by not using this website as well as the others. With face-to-face meetings more difficult any communication is good communication.
    I should clarify that when I said I was awaiting a response to a query in my previous email I was talking about the MP and not your council. I feel he could learn a lot from what you are doing about properly engaging with people, particularly supporters who do not use social media.

  3. That is an excellent point from Mr Scott esq.

    Those councillors who do contribute on here in terms of comments do get a respectful response the majority of the time. Perhaps Cllr Grange’s patient battle with the Masons is an exception – but us non-Masons appreciated her clear and concise explanations.

    So perhaps more members of the council should engage on here, as well as other places?
    Lichfield Live does have the deserved respect of most elected members locally, certainly those who understand their role. So why not contribute on here?

    I hope LDC continues on this path. It is certainly more engaging than in previous years, even if some of the same old mistakes are still being made!

  4. I am fully in agreement with the above comments regarding the use of on line technology by councillors, providing they do not then claim the attendance allowance.

  5. As people are asking for more interaction, including distanced face to face meetings, I’d like to remind people that the Labour Councillors do regular monthly surgeries. This has been done by Burntwood’s Labour Councillors for many years to make sure we are accessible to all.

    I should also clarify the point made by Ron above. There is no attendance allowance claimable by Councillors. We are entitled to claim mileage expenses for travelling to meetings (which incidentaly I’ve never claimed) and there is a monthly allowance to cover the costs of being a councillor such as IT, phone, Internet etc. These are essential if you are going to join meetings online and continue to do your council work.

  6. As I’ve said before, when someone on the left like me finds Barry Scott’s comments highly agreeable, you might guess we are, like many, democrats. Doug Pullen is a definite improvement on the Wilcox regime, and the inclusiveness of some (if not all) councillors is a pleasure to behold. As both major parties manifest significant splits nationally, and the Greens eclipse the LibDems, we should be pleased that at local level a modicum of cross-party commonsense exists, that on the whole politically sparring does not plumb the Fabricant abyss, and that so many personally contribute to helping our neighbourhoods in these ‘interesting’ and demanding times.

  7. Glad to see LDC evolve into the modern era and that is a good thing for us all. It is refreshing also that such a motion was backed unanimously.

    By the way Bary if you need anything please contact me. As a senior assocation leader I do think members like yourself are the bedrock of political parties and would be willing to listen to whatever you have to say. Hope you and eveyone else here is well. There is a difficult winter ahead and as a community we will need to come together once again

  8. It’s interesting to consider the differences between the requirements of the constitutional role of vice-chair, which includes promoting public involvement in the council’s activities, and the stance taken by the current holder of the role. It seems to me that suggesting people are only watching the YouTube streaming of meetings because they are bored with repeats of comedies underestimates the level of interest people have. It’s not clear to me how Cllr Cross can justify this conflict between his reported views and the requirements of the role, and it’s a shame he wasn’t at the meeting on Tuesday to explain his thinking. On the face of it, it’s difficult to see how he can continue in the role, and I echo Cllr Evans’ call for Cllr Cross to consider his role as vice-chair.

    Of course the other big benefit of having the archive of recordings on YouTube is that what we say is there for review and checking. It’s sometimes difficult to remember the exact wording of answers to questions and it’s really useful to be able to go back to check!

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