How to get involved with virtual council meetings

Somerset County Council is due to hold its first virtual committee meetings next week and people can ask a question or simply listen in.

Two Scrutiny meetings are scheduled for 6 May with Scrutiny for Adults and Health starting at 9.30am, followed by Scrutiny for Children and Families at 1pm.

The press and public are welcome to listen in and ask questions as with normal council meetings. However, they must pre-register with the County Council’s Democratic Services and provide a landline or mobile telephone number so they can join the virtual meeting.

The Government granted councils temporary powers to hold public meetings virtually, using video or phone conferencing, during the coronavirus pandemic due to the practicalities of social distancing and saving lives.

The new regulations apply to all local authorities in England and cover all categories of public meetings including annual meetings, cabinet and committee meetings.

Somerset County Council Leader David Fothergill said: “Although we will miss face to face meetings with our colleagues and the public in attendance, it’s important we continue to uphold local democracy during this emergency.

“Local authorities are the backbone of our country and we are all playing a vital role in the national effort to keep people safe.

“I’m pleased we have invested in the necessary technology so we can continue to maintain transparency in local decision making through virtual meetings.

Please do pre-register now if you’d like to join us.”

To pre-register or listen in to a forthcoming council meeting, please contact our Democratic Services team on 07790577336 / 07811 313837 or 07790577232 or email democraticservices@somerset.gov.uk.

Further details of virtual meetings taking place during May, along with agendas and papers, can be found on the council’s website at: https://bit.ly/2YiKBRb