Kent County Council has begun the process of holding some of its member meetings virtually due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In order to test the technology an informal Cabinet briefing will be held on Monday, April 20, which will be broadcast on the internet. The briefing will include an update from each of the Cabinet members followed by a Public Health update from Andrew Scott-Clark and responses to the questions submitted by members.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10am and the webcast will be available for viewing here: www.kent.gov.uk/webcasts
The council says it has been working at full capacity to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic and for the foreseeable future it will not be possible for it to conduct business in the usual way. Meetings had been suspended due to the virus. Meeting virtually will be business can safely be carried out.
Director of Governance, Law and Democracy, Ben Watts, said: “The Government has asked us to be creative within the law about how we manage our meetings to balance democratic accountability with the operational realities that are currently being faced.
“Over the past month, officers have been tasked by the council leader with developing a virtual solution to enable the conduct of meetings. Following the Government guidance on meetings and staying at home generally, the solution is an entirely online meeting that will also be broadcast live to the public and press through a web link.
“KCC operates an executive scheme of governance and our decision-making, even in these unprecedented times, is published openly and transparently on our website.”
He said that although Government guidance provided flexibility about virtual meetings, many of the existing rules around the arrangements and calling of meetings continue.
Monday’s informal briefing will provide non-executive Members with the opportunity to raise questions to ensure that they are answered as part of this event in a way that has not been possible during the Covid-19 shutdown.
Following that initial event, the council will be holding a more traditional public Cabinet meeting on Monday, April 27, again broadcast live to the internet.
Mr Watts said: “Officers are also working on the arrangements for any urgent Planning Committee business and then we will move on to putting a range of our other committee meetings in the diary, all broadcast live.”
How to view the meeting:
You can watch a Teams Live Event as an attendee using a desktop/laptop or android mobile device through the Microsoft Teams app or web browser, or you can join from an Apple mobile device through the app.
Once the app or internet browser has opened, you will then be asked to either sign in or join the meeting anonymously. Join the meeting anonymously
If you click on the link before the event the screen will advise you that the Live Event has not started. The screen will update automatically when the event starts, and you will be able to see and hear the meeting.
You can also watch the meeting after it has started, if it is still in session, and use the toggle bar to move forwards and backwards.
Once the meeting has ended, click Leave. A link to the recording will be published after the meeting.
A virtual meeting.
But the council already do virtual work, virtually none from what I understand.