First Council Council Meeting Held Virtually AND On-Line Annual Report

The first ever online meeting of the full Cornwall Council took place last Tuesday. Also, making history, the Council’s Annual Report has not been printed but is available from this link.

The Full Council meeting, the first to be held since the implementation of lockdown restrictions in March, saw the whole authority meeting from their own homes via Microsoft Teams. At the start of the meeting, sympathies were expressed to those affected during the pandemic, and thanks were made to those whose efforts had helped keep residents safe during the crisis.

Among the reports discussed and approved were the council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and an update on the council’s capital programme, both of which had been ratified by cabinet last month.

One of the most heated debates centred on a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 in Cornwall. After a very close vote, the motion, introduced by Cllr Malcolm Brown, was approved, by 54 votes to 50. (I voted in favour of this.) The council will now lobby Westminster to be allowed to extend the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds in time for next year’s elections as a pilot authority before any extension of the changes across the rest of the country.

A second debate, calling for Government support for the coach tour industry and the hotels that depend on them, was also backed by councillors. (I also voted in favour of this.) Cornwall Council will now ask Westminster to consider a number of measures to support the industry, including extending the furlough scheme and offering affected businesses a VAT holiday.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hilary Frank, chairman of Cornwall Council, said:  “I am delighted we have managed to hold our first virtual full Cornwall Council meeting. “It has been an incredibly intense and pressurised time for us all, and I am grateful to the staff who managed to work so hard to make sure today’s meeting was a technical success, and to my colleagues for adopting these new ways of working so willingly. These meetings are a vital part of our democracy and I am delighted to see them return to our diaries in a format that we can use going forwards.”

The meeting is available to watch back via the council’s website: 1st Virtual Full Council Meeting (You do not have to download Teams as you can click to watch on-line AND anonymously). To find the meeting link, scroll down the page from the link I’ve just provided, to Full Council 7 July. Sorry cannot provide link direct to the webcast!