Some thoughts from councillors on virtual committees.

“I broke the rules and went for a pee”.

We have been speaking with councillors about virtual committees. Here are five takeaways:

The first vote counts”.
At old fashioned analogue committees, eyes of members frequently fall on one or two influential councillors when it’s time to vote. Many other members follow their example. That’s harder now. “I feel sorry for the councillors whose names begin with A – they have become the example to follow”.

It’s great – I washed up and approved applications at the same time”.
Most virtual committees concentrate on the slides of the officer presentation. It appears as though the more IT-confident members are minimising this window and doing other things. This makes what the reporting says even more important, and therefore its vital that they know their stuff. We suspect the team need to be thinking about this more.

There’s no gallery to play to”.
No longer will councillors get rounds of applause for the speeches they make at committee. We wait for imaginative ways of influencing members in the virtual world – increased text messages during meetings, perhaps.

“I broke the rules and went for a pee”.
The rules say that councillors have to be present for the whole discussion in order to allow them to vote. There’s no way of telling if that’s the case, with one councillor idly wondering if applications could be challenged on rules relating to old fashioned meetings. “How do you know we listened to all the presentation?”.

“We’re going to sort out the pre-meet”.
It’s not uncommon for decisions to get sorted before the meeting starts, as we all know. It looks as though this tradition will get revived online, along with simultaneous WhatsApp discussions between political colleagues.

For more on any specific committees, please get in touch.