First virtual meetings of Bedford Council to be held next week

Democracy is spluttering back to life in Bedford borough with the first virtual meetings of the council set to be held next week.

By David Tooley, local democracy reporter
Thursday, 7th May 2020, 6:00 pm

A meeting of the planning committee on Monday, March 23 was the last meeting to be held in the presence of members of the public before the calendar was wrecked in the wake of coronavirus.

The law was changed in early April to allow meetings to take place virtually and Bedford’s first one will take place on Monday.

The council’s annual meeting – involving the election of the new ceremonial speaker – follows on Wednesday, May 13.

Borough Hall in Bedford

“In line with Government guidance and to keep members and the public safe during the coronavirus outbreak,” said a council spokesperson, “Bedford Borough Council will be holding upcoming committee meetings and our annual council meeting remotely.”

Councillors will be able to phone in or join online and vote by a roll call of names.

Members of the public will be able to send questions in to the council and watch meetings live via a system called Cisco Webex.

The council spokesperson added: “These are unprecedented circumstances and we are working to ensure we can continue to operate in an open and transparent way, enabling the public to watch, listen and ask questions.”

Members of the climate change committee are set to see a presentation by James Russell from the Forest of Marston Vale Trust on their work, aims and achievements.

And they will also be discussing the council’s plans to plant more trees and look after the borough’s biodiversity.

Then on Wednesday, the full council is due to elect a new Speaker, who chairs meetings of the full council and represents the borough at events.

The meeting will also hear from mayor Dave Hodgson on the make up of the ruling executive during the next municipal year.

Members of the public who want to ask questions should email [email protected] by 6.00pm on the day of the meeting.

Both of next week’s meetings will start at 6.30pm, with the council saying that links will be placed on its website.