Falkirk Council to hold first virtual meeting

Falkirk Council will meet on Wednesday, May 6, for the first time since all of its meetings were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Kirsty Paterson
Monday, 4th May 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Monday, 4th May 2020, 5:05 pm

And in a historic first for the council, they will use teleconference to bring members together.

The meeting is expected to agree to set up an executive committee that will steer the council through the coronavirus crisis, which has made any kind of face to face meetings impossible to hold for over a month now.

Since then, senior council officials have had emergency powers to make decisions that allowed the council to respond to the crisis.

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Falkirk Municipal Buildings

They have worked with members in the SNP administration, as well as Labour and Conservative group leaders, as the council reacted to huge service disruptions in all departments, while also coordinating efforts to help those most affected by the pandemic.

The teleconference is expected to agree to forming an executive of 12 members – five from the SNP, four Labour and three Conservatives – who will meet using secure video conferencing technology.

It will not be open to any members of the public, but recordings of meetings will be made available shortly after the meeting and agendas and background papers will still be available beforehand.

If agreed, the executive will meet next Thursday, May 14, and then every fortnight to take any urgent decisions that need to be made quickly.

The report makes clear that the set-up of the committee is only an interim measure which will be in place until the scheduled summer break.

The body will be responsible for all council decisions with the exception of planning, which will continue to meet via video calls, although site visits and deputations will not be possible.

It will now meet on May 20 and June 17 as scheduled, but the report suggests that any controversial planning decisions should not be taken until the meetings can be made open to the public.

Labour group leader Robert Bissett welcomed the council meeting again, even in a limited form.

He said: “This is the first step towards recovery. I think we will find more and more that there are ways to do things differently using new technology.”

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