Suffolk village of Tostock holds an outdoor council meeting as members can’t use Zoom!
- Credit: Gregg Brown
One of Suffolk’s smallest parish councils has been rocked by a row about a 10-minute meeting being held in the village hall car park to formally sign off its annual audit before the August 31 deadline.
In a situation that could have come straight out of the script from the Vicar of Dibley, Tostock Parish Council decided it had to meet in the car park because four of its nine members don’t have the computer equipment needed to hold a Zoom meeting. There are also fears that the broadband in the village is not good enough to host an online meeting.
Tostock Parish Council has a policy of not allowing its members to talk to the media about its business – but one member, Olivia Boland, was outraged about the decision to hold an outdoor meeting because storms were forecast.
She has sought advice from officers at Mid Suffolk council because of fears that the meeting could be illegal under Covid-19 restrictions because more than six people will be meeting to discuss the issue. She was also angered because she said there was a threat that if members did not turn up they could face disqualification from the council because they would not have been to a meeting for six months.
“This is totally unacceptable. They want us to meet outside and keep social distancing. We are going to have to shout at each other – and the weather is not going to be good. I want to see the risk assessment for this meeting.”
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She was now planning attend because of the threat of disqualification from the council.
Councillors have been told that the meeting is unlikely to last more than 10 minutes because the only issue is to pass the audit which has already been distributed to them. They have been told that the meeting has to take place in the car park because Tostock Village Hall cannot reopen until September 1 and that is too late to meet the deadline for the audit.
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One other councillor said: “No one else is worried about this, it seems a common sense way of dealing with the issue. We’ve seen the papers and it should all go straight through in 10 minutes flat and we can all go home again. This is a small village and we see each other all the time so there is no real issue here.”
The council’s normal meetings are due to resume again in the Village Hall in October providing there are no new restrictions imposed.