Could online County Hall meetings continue post-lockdown?

Could online council meetings become the norm rather than something to turn to in an emergency?

An online West Sussex County Council meeting
An online West Sussex County Council meeting

The suggestion – along with the environmental and financial benefits it could bring – was mooted during a West Sussex County Council scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday (June 24).

Roger Oakley (Con, Worthing East) said: “I find it very useful. What we’ve done seems to work very well.

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“Can we use it again in the future whether or not we have any problems like Covid? Is it a way forward? Should we be adopting this as a matter of good practice?”

Weighing up the pros of staying virtual, members pointed out that not having to drive to County Hall and back meant fewer cars on the road, they were making better use of their time, and none were claiming expenses for their lunch.

Other councils have also been impressed with the number of people who tune in to watch their webcasts, especially when compared to the handful – if they’re lucky – who show up to the county’s various town halls to attend meetings.

Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West) asked chairman Andrew Barrett-Miles (Con, Burgess Hill North) to write to both the governance committee and the democratic services team to ask them to look into the idea.

Mrs Goldsmith said: “The benefits are quite considerable. I think it would be very pertinent that we do send a strong recommendation that this is looked at because it will have a potential impact.”

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