We'll meet again! A victory for democracy as Mendip announces its third virtual meeting since lockdown

Mendip is doing everything possible to preserve democracy and keep council business going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's poised to hold its third virtual committee meeting since lockdown, and the public and press are again encouraged to watch and submit questions.

The Council's Cabinet meeting will be held on May 11th at 6pm and will be live streamed. It follows the success of Planning Board and Audit Committee, both of which were held in April.

The Coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent social distancing measures, meant public meetings were no longer practical for councils. The Government therefore granted Local Authorities temporary powers to hold these meetings virtually, by using phone conferencing or through video technology.

The new regulations apply to all councils in England - and Mendip was one of the first to embrace them, launching virtual meetings just 11 days after they came into force.

Some 20 elected Members and officers attended Planning Board on 22nd April, and 40 members of the public viewed the live stream. It was an historic first for Mendip.

Last week (April 29th) Audit Committee had 18 virtual attendees, including officers, Members and representatives from our internal (Southwest Audit Partnership) and external (Ernst & Young) audit partners. 

Cllr Josh Burr, Chair of Audit Committee, said: "I was delighted that Audit Committee could meet virtually. I freely admit I was a little nervous about holding it online, but it was a great success. And that is testament to the hard work of the staff and councillors who made it happen. 

"During this national pandemic, the Council knew it must continue its work. Audit Committee is a key part of that work, as it essentially oversees the Council's finances.

"We didn't hang about. All the councillors were acutely aware of the responsibility we had to support Mendip's residents at this most challenging time. We just got on with it."

Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said: "Through the support of Council staff, and the enthusiasm of Members to embrace the technology, we have successfully navigated and addressed numerous hardware, software and user issues.

"We are about to embark on our third virtual meeting. Residents should be assured that despite the lockdown, crucial council business and decision-making continues, and that process remains open, transparent - and in public. That's very important.

"We are proud to be driving democracy forward at such a pace in Mendip."

Background papers and access information

The agenda and reports to be considered by the Cabinet on Monday 11th May 2020 at 6pm, are available now on our website, as is the link which will enable the public and press to view proceedings.

Residents who want to raise questions are asked to submit them in advance of a meeting. 

Cabinet, Monday 11 May 2020