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Cornwall council meetings set to return

Cornwall council meetings set to return

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 4:16pm 6th May 2020.

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter 

Cornwall Council is set to hold its first virtual meeting to discuss how it should hold virtual meetings.

While many local councils have already adopted technology to hold video conference meetings in line with new government guidelines introduced for the coronavirus, Cornwall Council has not held any formal meetings since March.

This week NHS Kernow held its governing body meeting using video conferencing and St Austell Town Council also used the technology to hold a meeting on Monday.

Today Cornwall councillors have been given a briefing and training on how the new system will work and next week the council’s constitution and governance committee will meet to agree to adopt the new ways of working.

That meeting on Thursday, May 14th, will be the first to take place using the new remote measures.

Under the plans all councillors taking part in meetings will do so from their own homes with no elected members in the usual meeting rooms at County Hall and other sites in Cornwall.

Leader of the Conservative group Linda Taylor said that while she was pleased that meetings would restart she believed it had taken too long for the council to make the arrangements.

“In the first instance we have been calling for democracy from the start but you sort of have the sense that the elected members are considered a bit of a nuisance while Kate Kennally has adopted the executive powers. However I would say that Cornwall Council does have a real serious problem with its IT. You have the group of companies but nobody is giving support to one another due to the different IT systems that have been adopted. Considerable money had been put aside and investment in different schemes like Oracle, but the IT is dire and that has contributed to the delay.”

            Councillor Linda Taylor, Leader of the Conservative group

Cllr Taylor said that while all meetings would be conducted remotely some councillors would have been happy to meet in person, following all social distancing guidelines.

She said: “We have two councillors in our group who have really bad connectivity, which is an issue, but the majority of people have been brought on board.

“For councillors who look at technology in sheer terror it is amazing how everybody has adopted the new way of working.”

The remote meetings will be able to be attended by members of the press and public and councillors will be able to vote.

Cllr Taylor said: “We can’t wait for democracy to come back, but in my opinion this has been far too long.”

Under the proposals going to the constitution and governance committee meeting next week is a plan to not have the council’s annual general meeting and to keep all appointments which are usually made at that meeting as they are now. This includes the chairman of the council.

Meetings have also been placed in categories with priority for decision making meetings such as planning and licensing committees.

The council calendar indicates that the first planning meeting could be the central sub-area planning committee on Monday May 18.

The constitution and governance committee is due to meet next Thursday

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