Online council meetings set to continue

Councillor Roddy McCuish thanked all council staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to help the area through the terrible pandemic.

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Councillors have approved plans which are set to see no face-to-face council meetings held in Argyll and Bute until at least October.

At a full council meeting held via Skype on Tuesday June 30, members agreed to continue the activities of the Business Continuity Committee (BCC) until a further review on Thursday September 24.

The BCC has been conducting the business of the council, which primarily would be dealt with by the policy and resources committee, since the end of March when it was established due to Covid.

However, other core council committees, including community services and environment, development and infrastructure, will resume from September – but again on a virtual basis.

The council’s four area committees will also meet during September, again using computer software instead of meeting in person.

After September, the next scheduled meeting of any council committee is policy and resources on Thursday October 15.

During discussion of the proposals, Councillor Robin Currie said: ‘The vast majority of us have been following the Scottish Government route map and will have noted that phase four is in a few weeks’ time, at the end of July. I take it that we take that into account when we put these proposals forward? At that time, people hopefully can travel the world and do a lot of things we were used to doing.

Executive director Douglas Hendry responded: ‘As it stands at the moment, and this may be what is underneath Councillor Currie’s question, the Scottish Government may speed up or even, hopefully not, slow down progress through the different phases. I would also make the point that even phase four is not an unrestricted return to pre-Covid operations, so travelling the world might be a bit ambitious. I certainly would hope that things will be less restricted, but it could be that there are still difficulties, for example in arranging a pre-Covid meeting of the full council, if we still have to observe social distancing. If we accept these recommendations, it puts in place a full slate of meetings that will allow us to do business and look at it again in September.’

In response to a question from council leader Aileen Morton, Mr Hendry also confirmed that the next BCC meeting is planned for Thursday August 13, when policy and resources would have taken place. The council is in summer recess during July.

The council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee has already resumed virtual meetings, as has the Argyll and Bute licensing board.

Depute Provost Roddy McCuish, chairing the meeting in the absence of Provost Len Scoullar, also delivered a message to all councillors as they broke up for summer.

He said: ‘Thanks to all council staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to help us through this terrible pandemic. The months ahead will be extremely challenging but we must show true leadership to help those who need us most at this time. By working together, we will come through this very well.’