Could Wakefield Council host virtual meetings in bid to carry on business during COVID-19?

Wakefield Council has not ruled out holding virtual meetings so it can carry on business during the coronavirus outbreak.

By David Spereall
Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 11:51 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 11:52 am

The local authority has already cancelled a full council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, in response to government advice.

A public meeting of council reps, NHS staff and other health groups on Thursday afternoon has also been called off.

Other smaller meetings run by the council are currently still scheduled to go ahead at present, including next Tuesday's Cabinet, where senior councillors discuss issues facing the district.

Wakefield Town Hall

But the council's sole Liberal Democrat Tom Gordon said at the end of last week that the authority should consider using video calls to hold meetings virtually, while public life is restricted by COVID-19.

In an open letter to leader Denise Jeffery, he said it was "imperative that throughout this crisis we can still collectively fulfil our democratic duties and roles as elected members".

In response, the authority's legal advisor Gillian Marshall said on Tuesday the council was "exploring all available opportunities to operate business as usual".

On Monday, the Secretary of State for Local Government said all council meetings across the UK should be "held remotely or not at all".

March meetings organised by Wakefield Council

Full council - Wednesday March 18 - Cancelled

Schools forum (meeting of local school leaders and head teachers) - Thursday March 19 - Scheduled to go ahead

Health and Wellbeing Board - Thursday March 19 - Cancelled

Cabinet - Tuesday March 24 - Scheduled to go ahead as planned

Local Democracy Reporting Service