16 May Harlow Council to stream their first ever virtual meeting
Harlow Council will be holding its first ever virtual council meeting next week which will also be streamed live on You Tube.
The government has recently changed the rules which allows councils to hold virtual meetings during coronavirus outbreak.
The first ever virtual meeting in Harlow Council’s history will be the Annual Council meeting on 21 May 2020. The meeting will run on Zoom and be streamed live to the public on the council’s You Tube channel – www.youtube.com/harlowcouncil
At the meeting the council will elect the Chair of Harlow Council and appoint the Vice-Chair of the Council for 2020 to 2021. The Leader of the council will appoint his/her deputy and cabinet portfolio holders. Appointments to various committees will also be made and the calendar of meetings for 2020 to 2021 approved.
Much of the council’s work since March has been responding to the national situation with decisions taken on a day-to-day basis by officers using emergency powers. Traditionally this time of year is also quiet for council meetings as it is usually the election purdah period.
Following next week’s meeting the new cycle of committee meetings for the year ahead will begin. All meetings will be held virtually and streamed live on You Tube until 7 May 2021. Agendas for the meetings will continue to be published on the council’s website. The only times where meetings, or parts of meetings, will not be streamed live is when confidential matters are being discussed.
The public will still be able to ask questions at the meetings or submit written questions. A copy of the new procedures can be found on the council’s website by following this link http://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=123&MId=1132&Ver=4. Residents can also subscribe to updates to receive meeting details directly via email.
Brian Keane, Harlow Council’s Chief Executive, said: “The business of the council has continued throughout the coronavirus crisis with decisions made by officers under emergency powers while legislation was changed to enable virtual meetings to be held. This has also given us time to test software with Annual Council always being the first meeting before the committee cycle restarts. The change in rules does present the opportunity for councils to embrace modern technology when it comes to decision-making and encouraging more interest in local democracy. Of course I’m sure councillors would agree that you can’t beat being in the chamber debating the issues face-to-face and when it is safe to do so councillors will be able to do that again. With everything that the council is doing, we will continue to be guided by government advice when it comes to our public meetings and gatherings. This is going to be a strange moment in the council’s history but live streamed meetings will be an important one in terms of democracy in times of a national crisis.”