At the Warbleton Parish Council Annual Statutory Meeting on 21st May 2020, Cllr.Andy Long was elected as the new Chairman of the Council, and Cllr. Mike Smythe was elected as Vice Chairman. Also elected were the Chairs of the Council’s committees, including: Steve Williamson, Chair of the Finance and General Purpose Committee; Roy Ironmonger, Chair of the Planning and Development Committee; Chris Wells, Chair of the Environment Committee; Celia Davies, Chair of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Committee.
The Council has been reviewing its past practices and has identified a number of areas where it needs to start doing things differently, with plans being developed to ensure that this happens. Amongst other things this should result in better adherence to Council procedures, and also a more effective communication with the general public including a right to scrutinise the financial management of the Council. An audit report, which was part of this review, has been published on the Parish Council website – a demonstration of the desire for a more transparent way of doing things from this point onwards.
New Parish Council website (http://www.warbletonparishcouncil.co.uk) went live last Friday, and the old website will shortly be switched-off. The plan is for the new website to provide more topical information and news. There is also a facility for residents to subscribe for alerts such as meeting dates and times, or important announcements. The site will also be a source for copies of documents, including Council meeting minutes going back to April 2019, in line with freedom of information requirements.
As part of the Council’s safety measures for Covid-19, the ASM was conducted online via Zoom, with members of the public provided with log-in details via the website. Clearly at some stage it will become safe to resume face to face meetings but we would encourage the Council to explore ways to retain the benefits of the virtual access for the public that has been a bi-product of this digital experiment. Bearing in mind that a significant number of local residents may need to continue to self-isolate for up to 12 months while a Covid vaccine is developed, it would make a lot of sense for some form of online access to Council deliberations to be continued. And for the public in general we believe that (just like Parliament) the ability to follow proceedings would encourage a greater engagement in Parish matters – so having seen the future, surely it makes sense not to regress back to last century ways of doing things, once the immediate need for doing things differently has passed.