I’ve just completed chairing our first ever Online Parish Council meeting and gone straight into the second half of a live Facebook concert by my good friend Talis Kimberley…
I can’t help thinking she can see me as she sings, like I could see my Councillors during the meeting. Or some of them. More on that later. I watch and smile and sing along, but now my Tesco delivery has arrived and I need to go move it all through the decontamination process we’ve developed to protect shielded Miss from any lurgy.
Did I apologise to our singing angel as I left? Yes, I did. How easily we slip into the interactive nature of the new isolated world. The new reality is widescreen…
The Parish Council meeting went not too awfully. Until the recent and rather long winded statutory instrument “The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and
Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020″ we had to meet face to face. Now we are in a brave new world.
We have recently bought into Office365 (no, I don’t need to hear it) and as part of that we have Microsoft Teams. We also have an IT expert Councillor, which is a fortunate happenstance, as up to now it’s been my doing my best. So it was clear we would use Teams to meet.
Almost immediately we hit quite a problem. Unless you know differently, only four video feeds are allowed on screen at once (with your own feed in a postage stamp at the bottom). For a Parish Council of nine Councillors, one Clerk and a Ward Councillor it was impossible to have a ‘raise your hand if you want to speak’ rule.
Thankfully, we had no members of the public connecting this meeting, and it was a deliberately constrained agenda. If we had, it would have been even harder to retain any real chance of chairing the meeting. As it was we managed well because of the good nature of all our Councillors, but next time we will try Whereby or Zoom.
Most Parish Councils will find themselves experimenting with online meetings. If you’ve found a better solution do pipe up in the comments. How did your meeting go? (are you keeping your Chairman on until May 2021?)
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