Calls for council meetings to continue to be held online have been backed by the MP for Lichfield and Burntwood.

An online meeting of Lichfield District Council

Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, said earlier this year that the ability to attend sessions virtually could create a more diverse range of councillors in future.

The current practice of holding online meetings has taken place under regulations brought in because of the coronavirus crisis – but they are due to end in May 2021.

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said he was hopeful the Government would consider a long-term change.

Michael Fabricant MP

“I fully agree with Cllr Pullen –  the temporary order put in place because of COVID-19, should be made permanent.

“I contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government who now say they will ‘consider’ extending the temporary order allowing virtual council meetings indefinitely.

“This would transform local democracy across the country. 

“Whether the decision is made in 2021 or not, I believe this will be the inevitable future for local council meetings.”

Michael Fabricant MP

Cllr Pullen said engagement with the decision-making process at the council had increased with more people tuning in to watch meetings take place.

Local Government Minister Luke Hall said he was keen to explore the benefits of online sessions put forward by the council leader..

“While the remote meetings regulations applies to meetings only until 7th May 2021, I am aware that the flexibility to meet remotely has been welcomed by many, and the Government will be considering carefully the case for extending these regulations as necessary in the coming months.

“It is widely acknowledged that the regulations have helped local authorities to redeploy resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and make business critical decisions in a democratic way while protecting the health and safety of their members, officers and the public. 

“It is particularly interesting to note Cllr Pullen’s enthusiasm for remote meetings and the benefits he has described, including increased public engagement, improvements in councillor attendance, and a reduction in the council’s carbon footprint.

“I was also interested to note his point regarding the additional flexibility that remote meetings provide and the potential this has to attract more diverse individuals to the councillor role.”

Local Government Minister Luke Hall
Cllr Doug Pullen

Mr Fabricant said he would work with Cllr Pullen to help Lichfield forge the way for the future of council meetings.

“Early next year, I will press this matter again with the Department both face to face and in the House of Commons. 

“Cllr Doug Pullen and I will work together on this and if we achieve a permanent change to the rules of council meetings nationwide, it will demonstrate that where Lichfield leads, others follow.”

Michael Fabricant MP

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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4 Comments

  1. As Cllr Pullen seems to work so “productively” with Mr Fabricant and ministers from our party, can I suggest the leader of LDC should talk to our MP about the free school meals issue and our Government’s appalling handling of the pandemic since early summer? I would still far rather see someone young and capable as Cllr Pullen as our chosen MP rather than Mr Fabricant, who has rapidly lost all my confidence and trust.

  2. Wonder why Mr Fabricant is so interested in council business.
    I wder why Mr Fabricant does not appear to go to work yet happily mixes with people and wonders our country lanes.
    The council leader should be independent of Fabricant,why does he need him pulling his strings. Can’t he hack the job alone?

  3. Personally I think it’s a good idea as more constituents will be able to see the lack of support the Council gets from its MP.

    No submission on the Local Plan but it seems support for the Government’s proposals to take away Lichfield District Council’s say on planning in the district. No support for funding to prevent the Council going bust in 2025 – the Conservative Cabinet’s view of their finances. No action on getting Burntwood’s Health and Wellbeing Centre replaced. No regular advertised surgeries held in Burntwood (before Covid) or anywhere else – unlike local councillors. No representation really.

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