AS A result of the current COVID-19 outbreak, Dorset Council will be hosting its committee meetings virtually following changes to legislation, starting with the Cabinet.
The council had suspended face-to-face meetings since the introduction of coronavirus restrictions. New regulations now enable decision-making processes to continue in accordance with the government’s guidance on social distancing.
The first virtual meeting will be of the Cabinet, which starts at 10am on Tuesday, May 5.
Dorset Council’s Cabinet members will be taking part in the internet-based meeting. A live transmission of the meeting will also be viewable via Microsoft Teams Live Events or by following the links to May 5 Cabinet at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/committees
A recording will also be published on the council’s website after the meeting has taken place.
Members of the public will be able to send a question/statement in advance of the meeting in a written format via email. Details of how to submit a written question/statement are provided with the meeting agenda for meeting.
The deadline for submitting a question for the Cabinet is 8.30am on Thursday, April 30.
The council is planning to hold other ‘virtual’ committee meetings, including audit and governance, area planning committees, Scrutiny Committee and licensing sub-committees as required. The annual council meeting is currently scheduled for September 3 and its format will depend on social distancing measures at that time.
Councillor Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset Council, said: “Continuing democracy is of the utmost importance, and all political parties making up Dorset Council have worked together to identify the meetings which must take place over the coming months.
“Hosting virtual meetings enables council to make decisions on items related to COVID-19 as well as business-as-usual matters, whilst ensuring the health and safety of councillors, colleagues and the public in line with public health guidance.
“Whilst using digital technology gives us the ability to continue to make decisions about important issues, we should not underestimate the challenges of holding meetings remotely. However, regular internal online meetings have been taking place since we went into lockdown and these have been working well.”
Response to COVID-19
At the first ‘virtual’ public meeting on May 5, the Cabinet will receive a report on the council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report sets out an overview of how the council has responded reactively and proactively to the current crisis. This includes changes to the way services are managed and run; enabling and co-ordinating support to individuals and families; redeployment of council employees to support critical services; and implementing processes to distribute financial support.
The report will also set out an approach for dealing with the business of the council post-crisis and some of the financial challenges it will face in the short to medium term.
It also recognises the time and support given by individuals and groups in the voluntary and community sector over the past six weeks.
Executive Advisory Panels
Two of the council’s Executive Advisory Panels (EAP) will be also be resuming in the next few weeks.
The Climate Change and Ecological Emergency EAP and the Dorset Council Local Plan EAP will both re-commence so that the council’s work on these important issues can move forward.
Watching Dorset Council’s committee meetings online
To watch Cabinet on an iPhone/iPad or android phone/tablet, you will need to download the Microsoft Teams app (available in the App Store or from Google Play). Please follow the link at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/committees
Your device will be taken to the App Store/Google Play where you will be prompted to download the app. Please follow the instructions to download and install.
When the app is installed on your device, you will be prompted to open Microsoft Teams. You will then be able to watch the live event anonymously on May 5.