Following a return to face-to-face meetings, on 1 June Saltford Parish Council (SPC) livestreamed its full council meeting for the first time.
New livestreaming equipment meant that residents could watch the Parish Council meeting take place in the Avon Room at Saltford Hall (held in a COVID19 secure way) from the comfort of their own homes. It was the first time Councillors had met face-to-face since March 2020.
Saltford Parish Council decided to livestream its June meeting following legislation that permitted remote council meetings ending last month. The decision was also made by SPC in consideration to social distancing rules, as although meetings are open to the public, the meeting room used by SPC currently allows up to 15 people to be present. Parish Councillors were conscious that residents may prefer to watch proceedings without attending in person due to the ongoing COVID19 situation and associated safety concerns. As a result the decision to livestream meetings via Facebook was agreed to enable better resident access during current restrictions.
Saltford Parish Council understands the importance of public access to its meetings, and had been meeting via Zoom since June 2020 (when remote meetings were first permitted). Remote meeting legislation allowed both the public and SPC Councillors to engage with the meeting via Zoom. This included interaction during ‘Public Time’ for residents who wished to address Councillors on specific agenda items, and it allowed Councillors to lawfully attend and vote remotely. SPC held its last remote meeting on 4th May. (Please find further details below on SPC’s response and actions following the end of remote meeting legislation for local councils).
So that residents can watch proceedings, Saltford PC intends to livestream its public meetings until restrictions are lifted. It will then discuss the option of continuing to livestream at a future council meeting.
Saltford Parish Council wishes to express its thanks to the Saltford Community Association for purchasing the equipment required to enable the Parish Council to livestream its meetings from the Avon Room at Saltford Hall. This equipment is available for all Saltford Hall hirers to use for both livestreaming and remote meetings.
Cllr Jon Godfrey, who supported the SCA in procuring and setting up the new equipment, oversaw the livestreaming of Saltford PC’s June meeting. By the end of the livestream over 66 people had watched part or all of the meeting.
The photo below shows before and after the livestreamed meeting. Following 15 months of not having met as a Council in-person and 12 months of meeting on a screen, it was great to get together again!
SPC asks the government to agree to remote meeting legislation
Coronavirus legislation allowing remote meetings for local councils ended on 7th May 2021. In April, Saltford Parish Council resolved to write to both Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and Luke Hall MP (Minister of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) requesting an extension to Coronavirus meeting legislation and to bring in permanent legislation to allow remote and hybrid local council meetings. Saltford Parish Council has also formally submitted its views on the benefits of allowing remote council meetings via a government consultation. It awaits the government decision on this.
Saltford Parish Council’s intention is to meet in person at Saltford Hall where possible, however it recognises the advantages of an interactive hybrid meeting especially for residents who are unable to attend meetings in person but wish to speak during public time. Further, such legislation would allow a meeting to go ahead entirely remotely if required, such as during adverse winter weather which may make travelling to a meeting difficult for Councillors and residents.