Surrey County Council prepares for meetings in public to shut down.


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Surrey’s leader Tim Oliver told a depleted council meeting this week that it was looking at ways to hold meetings online, as this may be the last public meeting to be held in person,

There were only 34 of the 81 councillors present at County Hall, Kingston – and some including Godalming councillor Peter Martin said he would soon be self isolating.

A sombre Cllr Oliver said: “We are setting up an emergency helpline number for concerned residents and are working closely with the district and boroughs, the local resilience forum, to ensure we co-ordinate in the most effective way with the voluntary and charitable sector.”

This would not be a medical helpline, but one to offer practical help in the community.

 “The council is a public service and it remains on high alert with teams working tirelessly to support schools, care homes and health partners. Our priorities at this time are to ensure that we do everything we can to reduce the pressure on the NHS, to protect our most vulnerable communities and support our staff and residents.”

The council voted  through changes to its constitution to allow future decisions to be made by a delegated cabinet member or council officer.

Protocol around other democratic procedures such as questions to the council and petitions is being developed.

Staff are looking at how to hold meetings online, but Cllr Oliver said they were committed to meeting their public duty as a council.

He added: “The challenges being brought by coronavirus are not going to go away any time soon, we will be tested further in the coming weeks and months almost certainly, but it is during times like these that we must all pull together.

“Our residents must be assured that we will continue to deliver the vital services they rely on.”

Details of the helpline are being finalised as SCC makes sure it has staff in place to operate it and will be announced later this week.

Anyone looking for medical advice or information from public health must still go to or call 111 if they are suffering from severe symptoms. The advice is not to call 111 if you have mild symptoms but to go online instead.

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