From June, Isle of Wight Council committee meetings will be run live online using Microsoft Teams.
Some elements of the normal democratic processes were temporarily suspended so that the council could develop a response to the coronavirus which can be sustained for as long as may be needed.
It was also necessary to ensure social distancing measures and to underpin the need for people to stay at home.
The Coronavirus Act was passed through both Houses of Parliament for a number of matters, including amendments to the law for how local authorities may conduct committee meetings.
It is important that any facility used to enable online meetings to support the democratic process are both user-friendly and secure, and processes detailed to make virtual management of committees effective. Testing and trialling of the system has taken place to ensure this.
A virtual committee timetable has been put in over the next three months. This allows our members and officers to be able to work from home and enable the democratic process to continue.
The council’s AGM, which normally takes place in May, has been rescheduled for September.
A full list of committee meetings can be found here.
“The council was in a strong position to accept this challenge having invested in Microsoft Office 365 last year as the main organisational technology tool and new ICT kit,” said Councillor Dave Stewart, leader of the council.
“The technology and our behaviours have advanced at pace in response to Covid-19 to enable organisations to operate as effectively as possible, digitally.
“Our staff were already in a great position to work differently having become agile in their ways of working over the past eighteen months. This newly released ability to manage our meetings virtually is testament to the changing technology and the behaviours of our council teams to work differently to continue to deliver services during this time.
“Our office-based staff and others have been working from home since lockdown was announced; everyone has become very adept at working in this way and it is fantastic that we can now start to move back towards a ‘new normal’.
“I am very much looking forward to the reinstatement of our committee meetings and the involvement of all members in our response to the coronavirus but also in ensuring that the delivery of our critical services continues to meet the needs of the whole community.”
The council continues to review all of its services in line with latest government guidance to ensure the health and well-being of service users and staff.