Falkirk Council starts blended meetings in step back to normality

A trial of blended meetings will be the start of “getting back to normality” for Falkirk councillors.

After consultation, members agreed they should begin the process of returning to physical meetings as long as it was done cautiously.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council, members agreed that two meetings will be held, with some members attending in person and some continuing to take part online.

The Executive on October 19 and the Scrutiny committee on November 11 will be in this blended format.

Colin Moodie (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Councillors also agreed that there would be space for a member of the press to attend.

The meetings will be held in the Lesser Town Hall as the municipal buildings are now permanently closed.

The technology has already been trialled at two test meetings and members were generally satisfied, although the experiment had shown that a better camera is needed for webcasting to those watching from elsewhere.

Chief Governance Officer, Colin Moodie, said the test meetings had provided useful feedback and a variety of opinions.

He said: “The broad outcome is that the greater part of opinion was moving to blended approach but to do so with a degree of caution.”

Following the next two meetings, a report will be made at December’s full council meeting looking at how successful it was.

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Elected members will have a choice about whether they attend or not and there will be a need for physical distancing among those who do choose to go in person.

Some members are keener than others to return to physical meetings.

Labour councillor Alan Nimmo said: “The last time I checked the Scottish Government website, it was still advocating working from home and I don’t see why there is such a rush back to face to face meetings.”

However, still reeling from the shock defeat that had seen plans for a new HQ and arts centre scrapped, SNP Councillor Paul Garner said the return could not come soon enough.

He said: “I think we might have had a different outcome if members of the public and people from the business community had been in attendance.

“I’m happy to second the move back to normality with this blended option.”

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