Cherwell approaches digital democracy milestone

Plans to ensure key decisions are made for north Oxfordshire residents will be put into action from next week, when the first virtual meeting of Cherwell District Council will be held.

Published: Wednesday, 13th May 2020

Alongside the council’s focus on delivering key frontline services like bin collections during the COVID-19 pandemic, much work has been going on behind the scenes to make sure councillors are able to meet using Microsoft Teams.

Elected members will attend an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday 20 May from the safety of their own homes. Planning committee will meet in the same way the next day.

Yvonne Rees, Cherwell’s chief executive, said: “I am very proud of the way the council has adapted to new ways of working to ensure we keep delivering for people living in our area during the coronavirus crisis.

“We have streamlined the meetings so that councillors and officers are still able to make supporting residents their number one focus at this difficult time.

“But it is still vital that we make it possible for councillors to take the decisions needed to enable essential work to progress. Our IT team has worked wonders to make this possible and it will be an important milestone for Cherwell District Council.”

In April, the Government temporarily removed the legal requirement for local authorities to hold public meetings in person, meaning online meetings could take place.

Cherwell’s first online public meeting follows a period of implementation, testing and training by the council’s IT team, who also successfully supported the customer services team into working from home.

Cherwell’s annual full council meeting, traditionally held in the days following the May local council elections, has been postponed and replaced with the extraordinary council meeting.

As usual, the agenda for each public meeting will be published around a week in advance. Meetings will be live-streamed in the usual way on the council website for anyone wishing to observe them; links to the individual streams will be provided via the agenda web pages.

Members of the public who want to address any of the meetings should visit this link, where contact details, committee dates and agendas will be published.