Council to consider emergency measures via Skype

The special Full Council meeting of Somerset County Council on Friday (March 27) will not go ahead as planned in light of the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

This meeting was scheduled to consider delegating democratic and decision-making arrangements during the pandemic.

Cancelling the meeting will avoid elected members having to meet in person and is in line with current guidance on social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

Instead, the proposed emergency arrangements will still be scrutinised at a virtual Skype meeting by elected members before the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive take the decision to put these arrangements into place.

If agreed, delegation will mean the Chief Executive and the Council’s Senior Leadership Team can take necessary actions to make sure vital services can continue while minimising gatherings and associated health risks.

Councillors will continue to receive reports and submit comments electronically. The Council is also exploring using digital channels to debate.

Council Leader David Fothergill said: “The current pandemic has seen unprecedented changes to life in our country and we are no different. We must keep our most important functions operating such as supporting the vulnerable and keeping people safe.

“We have not taken this decision lightly – democracy is precious. But this is a national emergency. We must follow the rules designed to save lives and protect our NHS.”

All Council meetings, committees and public meetings have been postponed for the foreseeable future. The position is being kept under review by the Chief Executive in discussion with the Leader of the Council and Opposition Group Leader and the emergency arrangements will be formally reviewed after six months.

The proposed emergency arrangements can be viewed online here: http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=137&MId=1098

For the latest updates from the Government, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

For further information about Somerset County Council services and the latest updates, please visit www.somerset.gov.uk.