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Welshpool councillor “sick and tired” of online meetings

Created on 10/09/2021 @ 10:22


By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

A Welshpool county councillor has pleaded with his colleagues to back a return to chamber in Llandrindod Wells after admitting he was “sick and tired” of online meetings.

Cllr Phil Pritchard has called for a vote to be taken to go back to face-to-face meetings at County Hall after former fellow councillor, Cllr E Michael Jones, brought up the issue having suffered some technical problems while listening to the first planning application under discussion at their meeting this week.

Cllr Jones said: “I lost the presentation towards the end, so I feel unable to vote, I don’t think this is the way to run a serious planning committee. We should be making representations to get back to county hall in order to have a proper discussion so that all members can take part,”

At the end of the meeting Cllr Pritchard raised the issue again, and believed that a “majority of councillors” felt the same way as he does and want to return to the chamber.

Cllr Pritchard said:  “I’m involved with a lot of organisations and I’m sick and tired of sitting in front of a laptop for six, seven, eight hours a day. I have told them all, I will not be doing any more virtual meetings.”

He put forward a motion to move the planning committee back to the chamber.

“I don’t see anything in the rules that prevents a committee from making this decision.”

His proposal was backed by Cllr Karen Laurie-Parry and Committee chairman, Cllr Karl Lewis, asked clerking staff to organise a vote.

Cllr Lewis explained that a return would mean hybrid meetings with some councillors in the chamber and others to continue online He told the committee that the council had calculated that only 19 people would be allowed into the chamber at any one time.

Cllr Lewis said: “When we have speakers, we owe it to them to have a face-to-face meeting.”

Other councillors wanted more information before making their minds up on the issue.

Planning committee solicitor Colin Edwards advised councillors that the vote could be watered down to a recommendation, so that advice on a return to chamber could be given to councillors before a vote.

Cllr Lewis said that the council’s scrutiny manager and head of democratic services, Wyn Richards, and head of legal and democratic services, Clive Pinney, would be invited to the next meeting to discuss the issue before a vote is taken.

Cllr Pritchard agreed to the changes and the next meeting is scheduled to take place on September 30.


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