Thanks to a Government diktat handed out to all borough and district councils across England – there will be no more major virtual meetings. It’s back to business in the council chamber – like it or not!
Despite appeals from councils across the country, including Waverley, Leader of the House of Commons and Father of Parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg – has told them to get back to their council seats. He said there wasn’t enough parliamentary time to change the law.
‘Your Waverley’ council joined others in submitting their concerns to the Government many months ago, saying that councillors’ age and available space would make self-distancing problematic at present.
Many Conservatives joined Council Leader John Ward (he is now the new Mayor) in condemning the Government.
However, Cranleigh Conservative Mary Foyszewski argued that it was time for normal service to be resumed. She upset some of her own more mature colleagues when she bluntly told them …
“if you are scared then stay away. It is time we got on with the job, we are a service provider. We expect our contractors to work, so it time we did the same.”
However, Cllr Paul Follows said as an unvaccinated member of the council it had a duty to continue to protect the vulnerable members of staff and councillors, whilst protecting the NHS. Here’s what he had to say.
The Honourable Member for North East Somerset pictured below has been dubbed as the “Honourable Member for the 18th century,” and often takes a power nap on the Commons benches.
When the pandemic hit, the government introduced temporary legislation to allow local authority meetings to be held online, in line with social distancing regulations.
But the news that this cannot carry on without a change in the law, means councils all over the country will have to find ways to continue their meetings in public while also keeping councillors, staff and the public safe.
Some councils have had to find larger venues in which to hold those meetings.
The safety of our staff, councillors and visitors is most council’s top priority and so they have introduced lots of additional measures to make our committee meeting spaces Covid secure.
This includes additional spacing; screens between tables; and a change to the layout of the room, amongst other things.
For years, the council has audiocast its meetings and this will carry on once face-to-face meetings return.
But there’s something more engaging about a webcast – and many councils have bemoaned the decision not to extend the legislation, especially as more people had been logging on to watch the goings-on.
Jacob William Rees-Mogg (born 24 May 1969) is a British politician serving as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council since 2019, and who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Somerset since 2010. A member of the Conservative Party, Rees-Mogg is a social conservative.
Rees-Mogg was born in Hammersmith, London, and educated at Eton College. He then studied History at Trinity College, Oxford, and was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He worked in the City of London and Hong Kong for Lloyd George Management until 2007, then co-founded a hedge fund management business Somerset Capital Management LLP. He has amassed a significant fortune: his estimated net worth in 2016 was from £55 million to £150 million, including his wife’s expected inheritance. Moving into politics, he unsuccessfully contested the 1997 and 2001 general elections before being elected as the MP for North East Somerset in 2010. He was reelected in 2015 and 2017, with an increased share of the vote each time, although his vote share fell in the 2019 general election. Within the Conservative Party, he joined the traditionalist and socially conservative Cornerstone Group.