Barnsley Council proposes long-term plans for council meetings

Barnsley Council cabinet will discuss plans for restoring the full programme of council meetings at their next cabinet meeting on the 8 July.

The proposals detail the need to run meetings effectively and in line with regulations.

Cllr Alan Gardiner, Cabinet Spokesperson for Core Services, said: “Our utmost priority during this pandemic is to provide vital services to our residents and communities of Barnsley and rightly so, this is what our staff are focused on delivering.

“Our plans have always been to restore the full programme of council meetings as soon as possible. Following the Government’s phased approach to easing lockdown, we can now look at restarting more council services.

“Like many other local authorities across the country, our council meetings have always been held in person, so we’re adapting to how we can work virtually in the most effective way. We acted on this quickly, and Barnsley was one of the first council’s nationally to commence the live streaming of public meetings.

“We need to make sure that any meetings we run virtually are productive for both attendees and members of the public, as well as being compliant to the Coronavirus Act 2020. This means that we have clear ways for people to ask questions, give responses and vote on decisions.

“We’re in the middle of an organisation-wide IT transformation project which is updating our IT systems and giving us access to new software and collaboration tools. Some staff, including elected members, do not have full access to the new technology, as the rollout has been delayed due to the pandemic. This means that some of the tools we could use to run large scale meetings are not available to everyone. We’re working to make sure all staff and elected members have access to the upgraded IT kit as soon as possible.

“We haven’t let this stop us from running council meetings. We have held numerous meetings; Cabinet, Area Council, Overview and Scrutiny, Planning Regulatory Board and Audit Committee meetings, as well as leading the broadcast of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority and the South Yorkshire Fire Authority meetings. These meetings have been adapted to run in a virtual setting with the technology we have, making sure that the council’s decision-making processes are still running.”

The proposals also detail a phased approach to the restoration of the full meeting programme with plans to reinstate virtual full council meetings from late July.

Read the report to cabinet on the council’s website.

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