North Kesteven District Council Members are to embrace a new way of conducting council business next week, using new powers introduced by Government.
A month on from the cancellation of all meetings scheduled for March and April in order to comply with social distancing requirements and help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, meetings are able to resume – albeit in a very different format.
The Government has given councils new powers to hold public meetings ‘virtually’, using technology including electronic, digital, virtual locations and telephone conferencing.
With the technology and understanding now developed to enable this, the first of these will take place for North Kesteven on Thursday, April 23, with a 2pm meeting of Council.
Council Leader, Cllr Richard Wright said: “As a Council, we are keen to resume council business as quickly as possible. By embracing this new way of holding meetings we will be able to, as Members still honour our duties and speak on behalf of our constituents.”
“In this ‘new world’, Members and officers will learn together how to hold virtual meetings, whilst also ensuring residents and the local media can listen-in, and be a part of the process.
“Participating in remote meetings is very different to holding a physical meeting in person. The team are prepared to face some challenges, and officers will need to further develop some practical solutions to support virtual meetings going forward,” said Cllr Wright.
To ensure safe and sound decisions are conducted from the outset, the Leader of the Council, Leader of the Opposition and unaligned Councillors (not part of a political group) have all agreed to reduce the number of Members present on these virtual council committees, to aid the management and connectivity of meetings.
Membership changes are in accordance with political balance requirements and will continue to ensure constituents are represented appropriately.
In order to accommodate these changes, whilst still remaining inclusive, some meetings, and items of business may need to be moved.
The first virtual meeting, a Council meeting will take place on Thursday 23 April at 2pm. This can be heard LIVE via our website: www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/Council23April
The Council plans to run further virtual meetings over the coming weeks, including planning and licensing sub-committees. Further information on these will be published in due course online at www.n-kesteven.gov.uk