Green councillors: Banning remote attendance undemocratic

Zoom meeting of North Somerset Council

North Somerset's Green councillors have backed calls to make hybrid council meetings permanent. - Credit: Archant

Green councillors across North Somerset have called for the reinstatement of hybrid meetings - allowing members to attend meetings remotely.

The motion has been pushed by Green representatives across the UK, calling on the Government to 'make democracy more accessible.'

Cllr Karin Haverson takes over from Cllr Richard Westwood at North Somerset Council

Dr Karin Haverson believes making hybrid meetings permanent would allow all councillors to represent their communities. - Credit: NSC

North Somerset Green Councillor, Dr Karin Haverson, agreed, saying refusal to permanently facilitate virtual attendance could result in discrimination.

Dr Haverson said: “Greens believe the reinstatement of hybrid meetings is essential to the democratic process.

"Enforcing attendance in person-only meetings restricts disabled people and people with caring responsibilities to fully and fairly participate.

"We need to make it as easy as possible for people from all sorts of backgrounds and circumstances to become councillors and for those elected to represent their communities. That means the reinstatement of hybrid council meetings - permanently.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) completed a survey among local authorities last year, before the emergence of Omicron, on the impact of returning exclusively to in-person meetings.

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The results showed that 72 per cent of councils saw a drop in councillor attendance at statutory council meetings and 73 per cent reported that public attendance at council meetings had also fallen.

Failure to attend council meetings in person has led to three Portishead Town Councillors losing their position.