Cabinet meeting goes digital

NEXT month’s public cabinet meeting is set to be the first to be held entirely digitally at Pembrokeshire County Council with calls for scrutiny meetings to follow.

Many local authorities in England have recently started holding meetings remotely but in Wales legislation via the Welsh Government has been awaited, which was published today (Wednesday, April 22).

The council’s head of environment and civil contingencies Richard Brown and head of highways and construction Darren Thomas told the local democracy reporting service that plans were underway to hold the next cabinet using Skype.

Cllr Joshua Beynon has published an open letter to the council’s head of legal and democratic services calling for scrutiny meetings to be restarted following May’s cabinet.

“Democratic functions of council must restart in a virtual way as soon as possible so that members can do their jobs,” he said.

Cllr Beynon said members were being “swamped with questions from distressed constituents and need answers.”

“I believe now more than ever after a month since the last overview and scrutiny committee met that backbench members need to be able to scrutinise the administration and represent constituents. We are all here as members to provide constructive scrutiny to ensure the best outcome for the people we represent,” adds his letter.

Mr Thomas said that council leader Cllr David Simpson was updated daily, with messages going out to councillors and others to try to provide as much information about what is happening as possible, with delegated decisions published on the council’s website regularly.

The plan is to “roll out” the use of Skype for business to the committee democratic structure following next month’s cabinet, which it is also hoped will be broadcast in some capacity.

However, Mr Brown warns that a return to “business as normal” was not likely immediately.

Capacity, and the need to focus on managing covid-19, will be the priority but “key decision making and jey elements of democracy should be able to function using these processes,” he added.

There was also the potential in the longer term that remote meeting will mean less time on the road and reducing environmental impacts of many meetings.

Katy Jenkins - Local Democracy Reporter

You are in breach of copyright
error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: