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Council to stage first ever virtual meeting

History will be made next week when South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) stages its first ever ‘virtual’ council meeting.

Members of the public and press will be able to tune in on Wednesday, 20 May, to watch councillors and council officers taking part in a virtual meeting of the council’s Cabinet.

Meetings of SLDC’s committees, Full Council and Cabinet have been suspended since the government's stay at home instructions were introduced in March. In the meantime, the council has been using emergency decision-making powers to continue its business, including taking a significant role in the Coronavirus emergency response.

As a result of the pandemic restrictions, the government has changed legislation to allow virtual meetings to take place.

The first SLDC meeting to be held virtually will be the Cabinet meeting, scheduled to start at 10am next Wednesday, 20 May, using the Microsoft Teams platform.

Members of the public and press will be able to watch meetings live via the link which can be found on the meeting agenda page on the SLDC website.

To find the agenda go to the meetings calendar, click on the relevant meeting you wish to watch and the link will be added to the first page, alongside the agenda documents once agendas are published.

Public participation in the meetings remains the same as previously, with members of the public needing to register their intention to speak. More information about this and the virtual meeting process can be found at: Virtual committee meetings: Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Leader of SLDC, Councillor Giles Archibald, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the public to our first virtual meetings.

“These are unprecedented times and we are all working in very different ways, and this is certainly a first for a meeting of this council.

“We felt it was important to get back to decision-making in public at the earliest opportunity and I thank the officers who have worked hard to assist us to implement these changes so quickly.

“We’ve conducted checks and have held mock events to test out the process. We’re hoping everything will run smoothly when we go live next Wednesday.

“Our Customer Connect transformation programme has already made us a much more flexible and digitally-enabled organisation. The changes have been invaluable helping us to respond to the Coronavirus emergency and allowing us to continue working and delivering our frontline services.

“This has included maintaining our waste and recycling collections, making benefits payments and the huge task of administering millions of pounds of grants to businesses affected by the lockdown and working on plans to support all sectors of our economy to recover from the impacts of lockdown.

“It has also enabled us to implement the latest technology so that we can continue to conduct our business in a transparent and accountable way through these virtual meetings.’’

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