AN ‘HISTORIC’ moment for Uttoxeter Town Council took place last week, when the organisation held its first ever virtual council meeting. The council held its first full council since March, after coronavirus lock down restrictions meant the April meeting could not go ahead.
Councillors met via online video platform zoom and members of the public were invited to join the call via the internet or by telephone. Town Mayor Cllr Sue McGarry said: “This is an historic moment for all of us on Uttoxeter Town Council as we hold our first virtual meeting.”
Among the items discussed during the meeting were casual vacancies, the Annual Meeting and Britain in Bloom. The casual vacancy followed the resignation of Cllr Moir. As no election has been called for, the town council is now looking to co-opt a new member for the Heath ward.
May is usually the month in which the town council holds its Annual Meeting and elects a new Mayor for the year, but this year that has not been possible as the Government issues new guidance on how councils operate during the pandemic. Cllr McGarry said: “We’re trying to keep up with new legislation that is being thrown at us on a daily basis. I propose we don’t hold our Annual Parish Meeting at this time. We’ve got until May 7, 2021, we’ve got time to do this right. I would ask that we consider leaving everything as it is until such time that we can put the new Mayor in position in the way it should be done, rather than virtually.”
The proposal met with some opposition and after a short debate, it was agreed the council would aim to hold an Annual Meeting in September and the new Mayor – expected to be the current Deputy Mayor, Cllr Carolyn Green – would serve an 18 month term. Cllr Hugh Montgomery told the council: “I think we had better get used to the idea that we could be doing these virtual meetings for a long time to come. I don’t think we can have proper council meetings for at least 18 months to two years.”
The council also discussed the cancelled Britain in Bloom competition for 2020 and preparations for a new bid in 2021. Cllr Carolyn Green said: “It’s a superb opportunity to actually collate pictures etc of this as we move forward for next year’s Britain in Bloom so we’ve got the evidence.” The council also discussed a parish zoom meeting hosted by MP Kate Griffiths, a number of planning applications and a number of highways issues.
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