Meetings at Lichfield District Council are unlikely to continue to be streamed online from next month, a report has revealed.
Sessions have been shown live on YouTube for the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But national legislation to allow virtual meetings is due to expire next month – despite the Government’s roadmap indicating restrictions will not be fully lifted until 21st June.
The leader of Lichfield District Council has previously praised the impact of online meetings, saying they could encourage a more diverse group of people to put themselves up for election in future.
But a report from Cllr Angela Lax, cabinet member for regulatory, housing and health, said that the streaming of meetings online was unlikely to continue for physical sessions.
“The return to physical meetings will limit the council’s ability to record and broadcast proceedings.
“Hybrid meetings, which would allow recording of the activity and comments made during the proceedings of physical meeting in the council chamber or committee room, would require significant capital investment in audio visual equipment and ongoing staffing resources to set up and maintain which the Council does not have within the current budget.
“Outline costings to provide audio visual equipment to facilitate broadcast in council meetings are £90,000 in capital and ongoing revenue costs in maintaining and using the equipment during each meeting.
“Other less costly options are being explored, but are unlikely to be realisable before meetings must begin again.”Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Lax’s report said discussions had taken place about how to deal with meetings planned between May and the lifting of restrictions on 21st June.
Some sessions have been rescheduled, while the AGM next month will go ahead in Burntwood instead.
A voluntary testing programme is also likely to be used to allow councillors to attend meetings in person again.
“Our next AGM is planned for 18th May and due to restrictions of the legislation that require them to be completed by the end of May, cannot be delayed further.
“Given the challenges and risks of physically fitting all members into the Council Chamber at Frog Lane, the AGM will instead be held in the sports hall at Burntwood Leisure Centre.
“This venue will allow for sufficient social distancing and some public viewing space as this meeting will not be able to be broadcast as meetings during the past year have been.
“It is also recommended that all members and officers likely to attend any formal council meeting undertake a lateral flow test in the 48 hours preceding the meetings to prevent anyone not exhibiting symptoms accidentally spreading the virus.”Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council
The report will be discussed at a meeting of Lichfield District Council tomorrow (20th April).