Northumberland County Council yet to schedule online meetings

Northumberland County Council has no firm plans as yet to hold any online meetings during the coronavirus lockdown.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 12:24 pm
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 12:53 pm
Northumberland County Council

All councils in England have been handed new powers to hold meetings virtually – but the public must still have access – after the Government temporarily removed the legal requirement for local authorities to hold public meetings in person.

The requirement for meetings to be made accessible to the public remains, but it will be up to each local authority to decide how they conduct meetings, how voting procedures work and how to ensure that the public has access.

This week a Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “We have been involved in a number of demonstrations of online council meetings and are continuing to explore the various options available.”

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Newcastle City Council held its first online meeting on April 17 – to grant emergency powers so decisions can be made on major planning applications during the crisis – with the councillors using video-conferencing and the meeting live-streamed on YouTube for the press and public.

And there are lessons from elsewhere in the country about councils getting to grips with the various technology.

News organisations reported earlier this month that a council meeting held using video call technology was nearly suspended after it was trolled with obscene adult content.

South Somerset District Council’s area south committee, held via Zoom video calling, saw a number of individuals disrupt proceedings with rude words and images.

Several users dialled in with adult-themed nicknames, while swear words were directed at a member of council staff.