Date Published: 23 April 2020
The first remote, virtual meeting to be held in the history of North Kesteven District Council has taken place – with members of the public playing their part by listening live.
The Council has embraced this new way of working in order to overcome the challenges posed by Coronavirus, as the authority continues to provide essential services, and to ensure residents can witness local democracy in action during this unprecedented time.
The remote meeting of Council today, Thursday 23rd April followed the cancellation of all meetings scheduled for March and much of April to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.
Prayers to commence the meeting were also recorded by Reverend Philip Johnson and uploaded to Youtube for viewing. Items on the agenda included the rubber-stamping of remote meeting arrangements during COVID-19 and the appointment of an Independent Person for Standards.
Leader of North Kesteven District Council Councillor Richard Wright said: “Our first virtual, remote Council meeting, held today, is a really significant milestone and we’re proud to have shared this moment of NK history in the making with residents and the public listening live via our website.
“Over the last few weeks the Council has transformed into a largely virtual network as we’ve worked hard to continue providing essential services in our District, serve our residents and care for our communities together in the face of Coronavirus. The ability to hold remote meetings is a real positive among all the challenges the virus has and continues to pose.
“I’d like to thank all those who’ve worked so hard behind the scenes to enable virtual meetings to take place, particularly the colleagues in our IT and Democratic Services teams.
“We’ll be holding further meetings in this way with details published on our website in due course.”
Government has granted councils these new powers to hold public meetings virtually, using technology including electronic, digital, virtual locations and telephone conferencing.
To ensure safe and sound decisions are conducted from the outset, and aid the management and connectivity of meetings, 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. Some meetings and items of business may also need to be moved.
Membership changes are in accordance with political balance requirements and will continue to ensure constituents are represented appropriately.
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 at https://www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/your-council/how-the-council-works/decision-making/
North Kesteven District Council Chairman Councillor Susan Waring said: “Today’s virtual meeting of Council – our very first held in this way - is proof that by working together and finding solutions as one, the difficulties posed by Coronavirus can be overcome. It’s a significant moment not just for us at North Kesteven District Council but for all those we serve in our District.
“I’d urge our residents and communities to continue listening in live via our website, as we hold further meetings in this way, and witness this brand-new method of local democracy in action.”
A recording of today’s Council meeting will be made available via the website and the Council’s social media channels.