Calls for end of ‘virtual’ meetings and return to face-to-face

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At the end of the informal Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on September 6, 2021, Councillor Meader (Labour, Kempston South Ward) said that he is ‘dying’ to return to face-to-face meetings.

Bedford Borough Council is currently holding a mix of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ meetings. The elected chair for this meeting, Councillor Hilde Hendrickx (Liberal Democrats, Newnham Ward), said the consequence of the virtual/informal meetings is that they are not decision making meetings.

She said: “There has been a discussion about the nature of these meetings and the preference would be for us to move to formal meetings.”

Councillor Carl Meader said: “On the issue of face-to-face meetings or virtual meetings, I’m dying to get back to face-to-face meetings.

“But I do respect that this is not everyone’s view. I don’t think it can be a committee decision, it would have to be a council decision on how we are going to run these meetings in the future.

“I don’t think we can be inconsistent. For example, I don’t think children’s services could run face-to-face meetings and adult services are still doing it virtually.

“I think that there has to be some consistency around that, surely?”

Lesley Blue, democratic and member services manager, told the meeting that there is an element of legislation, Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972, that sits behind how the Council delivers the meetings going forward.

She said: “There is a paper going to the mayor and group leaders next week. So this is going to be a discussion between members in terms of how we take this forward.

“And there will be a consistent approach to that.”