Coronavirus: Islington Council to conduct first virtual committee meetings this week

Islington and St Pancras Cemetery. Picture: Edmond Terakopian/ PA

Islington and St Pancras Cemetery. Picture: Edmond Terakopian/ PA - Credit: PA

Islington Council will conduct its first virtual committee meetings this week.

Local authorities are usually required to hold committee meetings in person but the government has temporarily changed this rule due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Islington’s licensing sub-committee will meet on Thursday at 6:30pm to discuss a premises license variation of the Kiss Me Lounge in Essex Road.

This will be followed by a planning committee meeting at 7:30pm which will consider five applications for sites around the borough.

Both meetings will be conducted using Zoom, an online video-conferencing application.

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In light of social distancing requirements, many councillors are already holding “virtual surgeries”, allowing residents to discuss any concerns with their ward councillors online.

Islington’s finance chief Cllr Satnam Gill said: “The ongoing coronavirus crisis is the greatest public health emergency of our time, and it has led to a great deal of changes for all of us in the way we live and work.

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“For the council this has meant drastic changes to the way we deliver our services. Video conferencing technology allows us to continue our important role in facilitating local democracy and to remain as transparent and publicly accountable as possible. Despite the challenges this crisis has thrown up, we are excited to make our first foray into this new digital frontier of local democracy.

“Any local residents with an interest in the proceedings are welcome to attend the virtual meetings on Thursday via Zoom.”

Islington’s only opposition councillor Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) said: “The current crisis is making everyone examine what is possible and it’s good the council, like the London Assembly, is working out how to continue with transparent democratic decision making while maintaining physical distance. I hope that we can also hold full council and other committee meetings in due course and that when eventually we go back to holding meetings in the town hall that live streaming continues, as I’ve requested before. Many councils do this as a matter of course as it allows the community to check if the council is doing a good job without necessarily needing to attend in person.”

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