Councillors look ahead to meeting in person

Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council.

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A return to the Kilmory chamber could be a step closer for Argyll and Bute’s councillors after an officer said that plans to relax social distancing may allow for the move.

The council’s leader, Councillor Robin Currie, asked how arrangements for attendance would work when face-to-face meetings become a possibility again.

Council executive director Douglas Hendry said that if the Scottish Government relaxed social distancing measures as planned, it might be possible for all members to attend.

No council meetings have taken place in person since the middle of March 2020, with all business being conducted virtually.

In April the local authority resolved to continue virtual meetings up to a review at the full council’s next meeting in September.

An update on the situation went before councillors at a virtual full meeting on June 24.

Councillor Currie said: ‘If we had a committee of 20, but the room that we were meeting in could only hold 10 face-to-face, how would we decide which 10 would be in the room, with the other 10 online?’

Mr Hendry responded: ‘The short answer is that there is no quick answer to this, but the indication from the Scottish Government is that by the time we get to those meetings in August, if things continue as they are, restrictions on social distancing could be relaxed to one metre.

‘That would make things easier for us. Thinking about the chamber, in relation to actual mechanics, we think the default position would be that all members are entitled to turn up in person at a meeting.

‘We would like to put in place arrangements that would allow that to happen if that is indeed the case.

‘There may be something we can do after recess where, when we put out the agenda, we ask all committee members to confirm electronically whether they intend to be there physically or virtually.

‘If that was something which members bought into, it would allow us to plan in the days leading up to a meeting. Hopefully this is an indication of something we could do.’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week that it is hoped to reduce social distancing from two metres to one metre indoors from Monday July 19.

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Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council. a17electionCurrie01no