New Northumberland council leader plans to bring back full programme of committee meetings

The new leader of Northumberland County Council has said that restoring a full programme of meetings is one of his priorities.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 6:56 pm
Cllr Glen Sanderson is the new leader of Northumberland County Council

Hexham West independent, Cllr Derek Kennedy again raised the issue of the number of meetings cancelled due to the pandemic, including many of the reinstated local area councils (LACs) this month.

At that previous meeting, members had agreed that the powers to determine planning applications should be ‘reinstated with immediate effect’, following their suspension due to Covid-19.

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The five LACs – covering the North, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, Ashington and Blyth, and Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley – have not met since February or early March, but four of them were also cancelled this month.

The North Northumberland LAC was due to meet, but it was deferred until October 1.

Cllr Kennedy asked: “Can the leader provide assurances that one of his priorities will be to re-establish democracy into the council so councillors and officers can start to dialogue with residents in important matters via the local area councils?”

Cllr Sanderson responded: “One of my priorities and of the administration is to ease back into a full committee programme.

“The intention is very much to get back into the pattern of regular meetings, you want that, I want that, I think we all would.

“Obviously it’s Covid-dependent, we don’t know what things are going to be like, but certainly the intention is there.”

Cllr Kennedy described it as ‘welcome news’, but added: “Actually even though we have Covid, I think that’s an even stronger argument to have these local area council meetings and other committee meetings, so we can engage, converse and have the residents see what’s going on and ask questions.

“Let’s face it, there’s huge conflicting messages coming from local and national government about what can and can’t be done.

“I urge that we use these local area councils as the vehicle to inform our residents.”

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