Aberdeenshire Council set to continue with online meetings until at least September
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Councillors have agreed to continue with virtual meetings until a further review takes place at a meeting of the full council in September it was agreed this week.
An options appraisal is in development that could see Aberdeenshire Council provide both online and hybrid meetings in the future.
While a revised timetable for easing lockdown restrictions has been announced by the Scottish Government, Aberdeenshire Council has said that working from home for its staff and elected members would “remain the default, where possible, for some time”.
However should the situation improve by September, committee chairs could choose to hold a meeting at a suitable available venue.
The local authority has held its meetings online since the initial coronavirus lockdown in March 2020.
Commenting at Thursday’s meeting director of business services Ritchie Johnson said the virtual meetings had been “tremendously successful” and noted that feedback from members had been mostly “very positive”.
Council leader councillor Andy Kille said: “We’re seeing good progress on the route map out of lockdown but the expectation is that we should continue to work from home where we can until at least the summer.
“We as councillors can work from home and as such we should, and these virtual meetings should continue for the time being.”
He noted that not enough progress could be made to allow the situation to change by the next meeting of full council in June and said that September would be a “much more realistic target”.
Councillor Peter Argyle agreed and said: “I think it’s unlikely that anything significantly will change before that date, clearly if there is a massive change we can react to that but I’m not anticipating it.
“We do need to consider very carefully how we return to having physical meetings when and how the situation allows and when the advice is clear on that.”
Councilor Argyle also noted that while there are positives with holding meetings online there are also negatives and said that meeting in person is “a vital part” of the role for elected members.