Councillor quits over ‘archaic’ technology ban

AN ANGRY councillor has branded Nailsea Town Council ‘archaic’ and resigned from her post after members banned laptops and mobile phones from meetings.

After a heated debate on the subject, Cllr Mary Blatchford stormed out of Nailsea Town Council meeting shouting ‘I will not stay in an archaic council’.

Councillors had been discussing a recommendation to ban laptops, mobile phones and iPads from meetings as some members believe them to be a distraction.

But Cllr Blatchford, who is also a district councillor for Nailsea, said she needs to take notes on her iPad as she is deaf and cannot write fast enough due to a hand injury.

She said: “Because I’m deaf I have to make notes. I can’t write fast enough, but I can type fast enough.

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“If we go along with this it shows how archaic we are. People will think we are not up-to-date, but stuck in our old ways. We are also saving money by using technology.

“I can’t write with pen and paper. I will resign if the council agrees to this.”

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Council chairman Rod Lees added that the use of computers also makes the council more efficient and saves costs.

But a number of councillors spoke up against the use of technology, claiming that it can easily be abused, with councillors carrying out other work when they should be taking part in the meeting.

Cllr Neil Middleton said: “I think if people are doing work that’s not relevant to the meeting it’s rude and offensive to the rest of the councillors.”

The council voted in favour of banning the use of any electronic equipment at its meetings, causing Cllr Blatchford to storm out of the room.

Speaking after the meeting, town council clerk Ian Morrell said: “The town council expressed its opposition to the use of electronic equipment at meetings when it can become a distraction to members involved in debates.

“What the policy committee of the council needs to consider further is how electronic equipment can be used to improve access to relevant information at meetings and to assist people with disabilities.”

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