New ‘blended’ approach to SBC meetings

New technology being drafted into the council chamber v.1

By Paul Kelly
Friday, 20th May 2022, 1:38 pm
Updated Friday, 20th May 2022, 1:38 pm
Netta Meadows, chief executive at Scottish Borders Council.
Netta Meadows, chief executive at Scottish Borders Council.

Scottish Borders Council has announced a ‘blended’ approach to holding committee meetings in a post-Covid world.

Since April 2020, in response to the pandemic, the council has conducted formal committee meetings online by remote access.

With the emergence of the pandemic it was agreed to suspend face-to-face meetings where elected members and officers met in person with meetings held remotely using Microsoft technology.

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This step was taken to minimise the risk of infection from Covid-19.

But now that the nation has emerged from the pandemic a new approach to how meetings are held in the future is being recommended.

Officers, along with the council’s IT provider, CGI, have been working to identify the necessary technology to hold ‘blended’ gatherings.

Technology is now being installed in the council chamber which will allow members to either join meetings in person or remotely.

When members of Scottish Borders Council meet on Thursday, May 26, they will be recommended to agree this new approach – while also allowing flexibility too for wholly online meetings, and physical meetings only – if agreed in advance by the chair of the committee.

Council chief executive Netta Meadows said the approach would provide flexibility to members and officers and also support climate change.

She said: “It is proposed that, where the technology is available, blended meetings will going forward be the default and the norm for formal committee meetings.

“This will promote flexibility for both members and officers, as well as helping to achieve our climate change ambitions of reducing carbon emissions, by reducing travel across the Borders.

“It will also make the best use of the technology currently available and will allow for the potential impact of any new or changing Covid or other restrictions moving forward.

“Blended meetings can only currently take place in the council chamber. If meetings do not take place in the council chamber then full online meetings will be necessary due to the requirement to livestream proceedings for public viewing.”

If agreed it is anticipated that the new blended approach will be launched in the council chamber next month.