A Thanet councillor has raised concerns about the return of face to face meetings for members – saying there is potential for gatherings to become ‘super spreader events.’
Independent councillor Candy Gregory, who is also a member of the Save Our NHS in Kent campaign group, says she has questioned what risk assessment measures were carried out prior to a council meeting held at Ramsgate Leisure Centre last week.
The meeting, which she says cost the authority some £2,500 to stage, took place after the local elections and coincided with the end of temporary laws which had allowed remote attendance and online coverage.
Cllr Gregory, who is a nurse currently assisting with covid vaccinations at the Saga site in Thanet, says she fears it is still unsafe.
She said: “The government temporary law has now lapsed but we only saw a risk assessment the day before (the meeting) and it was far from adequate. I sought advice from the Hazards Campaign and various medics I know who agreed that the resumption of in person meetings is a potential super spreader event.
“The public were restricted to 30 in number and it wasn’t live screened.
“Considering the Indian variant numbers are rising where is the wisdom in this? At Saga, we are just starting on the 40 plus group to vaccinate with their first dose so it’s far from safe to proceed without alleviating all risks.”
Cllr Gregory has asked Thanet council a number of questions in regards to risk assessment including whether staggered leaving and arriving times will be considered; whether there is additional signage; how seating will be arranged and whether measures such as screens and sanitisers in place.
Cllr Gregory has also written to North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, saying: “My understanding is that it is within Parliament’s gift to extend the law to allow remote meetings while the virus is still circulating.
“I ask that you (Sir Roger) kindly bring this to the attention of your parliamentary colleagues as a matter of urgency to ensure safety, not just TDC representatives but of the population as a whole.”
Sir Roger responded by saying: “The broader issue of extending `virtual meetings` is something that I have already raised and is under review – particularly in the light of current developments. This applies equally to the House of Commons.”
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “The council has had to revert to physical council meetings as the emergency legislation that allowed us to meet remotely ended on Thursday 6 May and was not renewed by the Government. We therefore can’t continue with remote meetings.
“All of our meetings are now being arranged in a Covid safe way and in line with the current government guidance on workplace meetings and use of council buildings.
“For smaller meetings we will use the Council Chamber and for larger meetings, such as full council meetings, we will use Ramsgate Leisure Centre. This allows Councillors, staff and the public to participate in a socially distanced way.
“We are working closely with our Health and Safety Compliance Officer to ensure this is carried out in the safest way possible. We are entirely satisfied with our preparations and have provided guidance to other councils about our approach.
“If the rules on social distancing end on June 21, we anticipate holding all council meetings in the council chamber and will continue to ensure that we follow all government guidelines. Considering the safety of the public, Councillors and our staff is paramount.”
The lifting of covid restrictions took another step today (May 17).
Indoor hospitality can reopen and indoor entertainment can resume, including cinemas, museums, and children’s play areas.
Up to 6 people or two households will be able to meet indoors and up to 30 people outdoors.
All remaining outdoor entertainment can reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances. Some larger events will be able to take place, including conferences, theatre and concert performances, and sports events. Restrictions on the number of attendees will remain as set out in the Roadmap.
Face coverings will no longer be needed in classrooms or for students in communal areas in secondary schools and colleges. Twice weekly home testing will remain to control infection rates.
All remaining university students will be eligible to return to in-person teaching and learning and should get tested twice a week upon return.
Up to 30 people will now be able to attend weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes, as well as standalone life-cycle events. These can take place outdoors or at any indoor Covid secure venue that is permitted to open. The number of people able to attend a funeral will be determined by the number that can be safely accommodated in the venue with social distancing in place.
Thirty people will be able to attend a support group or parent and child group. The limit will not apply to children under 5.
Organised adult sport and exercise classes can resume indoors and saunas and steam rooms may reopen.
Care homes residents will be able to have up to five named visitors, with two visitors able to attend at once provided they are tested and follow infection control measures. Residents will also have greater freedoms to leave their home without having to isolate on their return.
It’s time we got back to normal it’s suited far to many to hide behind COVID. Our GPs have mostly disappeared off the face of the earth. The doctors receptionist have been acting like bouncers. They can all come out of hiding now the war is over. I expect councillors like GPs have all continued to be paid attendance allowance for sitting at home.
Receptionists have been triaging & acting like guard dogs long before Covid hit. Hardly been hiding though-you just have to book an appointment rather than lining up in a global pandemic with a bunch of people sneezing & coughing everywhere & then sitting inside the surgery with them doing the same.
County councillors are NOT paid attendance allowances
If not attendance allowance what do you call the money you receive from KCC???? Salary???
It’s called members allowances and is a set figure not based on attendance records, it is taxable but not officially regarded as a wage/job which means that some councillors do very little committees work unlike myself
Oh they do it for free then Barry, oh in that case Candy don’t bother. If a jobs worth doing it’s worth being paid for it.
Only a fool works for nothing.
Clearly, the past year has had a serious effect on some people.
On the bright side: around 110 people die prematurely every day because of the effects of air pollution due to the polluted air we breath. Meanwhile, in Thanet, there were no Covid related deaths.
Do you mean today or since the pandemic started?
In the last 28 days.
Ie: currently, you’re very much more likely to die just by breathing than you are from catching covid.
Have you never heard of voluntary work, Bill?
There is absolutely nothing voluntary about Barry’s work.
He gets paid hard earned tax payers money, disguised as an “allowance” which he then wastes and donates to charity.
But, it’s okay, because he uses multiple cover stories like “it’s a local charity”, “I don’t need the allowance”, “Other CC accepted it, why shouldn’t I”. He was caught by the local press for accepting it (no questions asked), he came up with the above excuses after getting hounded by the electorate.
Now, what he should have done is refused it, like his honorable colleague did. Not just him, all should have refused it. KCC is in financial trouble and flat out stated, this would push the county council further into hardship.
So yes, he does get paid. Regardless if you agree with it or not.
And the electorate remembered this money wasting, along with his sham road schemes and everything else, and rightly so… although Barry got elected by the skin of his teeth, he was absolutely hounded in the local elections, and unlikely will get another term after this. The results show this.
I increased my vote, i increased my majority. I increased my share of the vote. I call that a vote of confidence. True i am guilty of giving money to local charities and will continue to do so
Donating money to charity is not wasting it.
Completely disagree Martha.
When it’s taxpayers money, donating it to charity is unacceptable.
If tax payers want to donate to charity, they will… Barry does not make that decision and has no right to.
I question if he even did donate it and didn’t keep it for himself. I’ve asked for proof many times.
Documented by kcc, give me your name and address and i will send you the receipts or will you keep hiding behind your mr
Box lying machine
Marva, yes I have and I have mixed feelings about it. By all means do something to raise money for a good cause and all credit to those who have gone out litter picking to put to shame those who drop the litter. However going to the same place day after day to volunteer I don’t agree with because if that task needs doing day after day then someone should be paid to do it for a wage not free.
For those in the dark and that appears to be a few on here, County Councillors get a basic allowance of £16,217 a year and District Councillors get £4,570 a year. Now if you sit on both Authorties that’s £20,787 gross which is taxable. Not a bad income!
Now here is a novel suggestion. Cut the number of Councillors on Thanet Council. We presently have 56! We should cut to 40 at the most and that’s being generous!! From what I observe there are some Councillors of the two or three political groups that do little. Thanet Council should ask the Local Government Boundary Commission to commence a boundary review with a maximum of 40 Councillors. I won’t hold my breath Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas!
Not a novel suggestion, Laurence, or can I reason reasonable one. But last time the question was asked the boundary commission put the number UP!
There are only three district councillors who are also county councillors.
Should say “not an unreasonable one”.
Rick, you are of course correct that the last Boundary Commission review of Thanet published in May 2001 increased the number of Councillors from 54 to 56. However to put the review into context, it was 20 years ago and the governance of local authorities was still coming to terms with the structural changes driven by central government of the cabinet style model as opposed to the previous one fits all model of the committee structure.
Following the failure of the proposed single District Council across east Kent in early 2017, an agenda item went before the Boundary and Electoral Arrangements Working Party in September 2017. The following month a full meeting of Thanet Council agreed to invite the Boundary Commission to carry out an electoral review and that decision on the proposed number of Councillors be delegated to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the then Leaders of the main political groups. A members briefing was also to be held week commencing 16th October 2017. Then it seems the whole process, for want of a better expression, died.
The three Local Authorities Thanet would have joined with, Canterbury, Folkestone & Hythe and, more recently, Dover have all had electoral reviews in the last 7 years and reduced considerably their number of District Councillors.
To put things in a little more context, the combined number of elected Councillor positions in Thanet, taking into account District and County, is 63. Compare that with the Unitary Authority of Medway 55!
Finally, my use of the word novel is my attempt at gallows humour and you and i surely know, Rick, to be a Council Leader you need some of that hidden away in the locker.
Whats all that got to do with councillors meeting and possibly spreading/contracting the virus? Can I suggest that when hugging only do it with caution, whatever that means. Oh! I know perhaps hugging could lead to one thing or another!
Getting back to the news subject. There is no problem with face to face meetings at the Council Offices provided distance and safety screens are used. Masks being worn at all times as well of course. Get a life, we expect bus drivers to work face to face, even dentists are returning to work. As for GPs? They live in a different world at the moment. However even they must do face to face when it is required.
Barry earns his wage unlike some others. Just to get off the subject again.