Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Councillors divided on best way to meet

WATLINGTON Parish Council could continue to hold its meetings online as well as in person.

Members were divided on whether to return to normal meetings following the lifting of covid restrictions when they met via Zoom this month.

Matt Reid, who chairs the council, said: “I don’t think it’s fair to force councillors to return.

“It’s about managing risk — people don’t feel it’s the right time to return to face-to-face meetings.

“Obviously with cases rising, I think it’s holding people back from wanting to return.”

He said that planning meetings especially suffered from not being held in person, adding: “You can’t feel the strength of feelings about certain issues. Face-to-face is very much for when you are looking to express some emotion.”

Councillor Margaret Noon said: “It’s clear that there is an expectation that we do move towards face-to-face meetings now.”

Councillor Tim Horton agreed, saying: “I think this month was a transitional month for many but we do have facilities which can be very well aerated.

“The meetings on Zoom have been good and well attended but I think that meetings of extra quality happen face to face.

“We have had people whose IT equipment has broken down and couldn’t attend and that could have been avoided.

“I still haven’t met a couple of people on this council face to face.”

Councillor Roger Beattie said other councils were now meeting in person and there was no reason why Watlington shouldn’t do the same.

Gill Bindoff suggested having a hybrid meeting, adding: “It is likely that more people will attend the meeting if they can just link in from home rather than actually turn up.”

The council agreed to seek ways of integrating technology into face-to-face meetings so that in future councillors could choose whether to attend in person or online.

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