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Editor urges councils to retain Zoom after lockdown ends

Philip Evans 1An editor has called on councils to continue holding meetings via video link once coronavirus restrictions are eased – hailing the practice as an “unexpected benefit of lockdown”.

Philip Evans has praised the use of Zoom by parish and town councils he covers for Axminster Nub News and Seaton Nub News in East Devon.

Philip, pictured, says the decision to record meetings has allowed the titles to report on local authorities even when they are holding meetings concurrently.

His comments come after a video of a remote meeting of Handforth Parish Council, in Cheshire, became an internet sensation earlier this month.

In a piece for Seaton Nub News, Philip wrote: “An unexpected benefit of lockdown for the press is reporters being able to sit in on meetings conducted by Zoom and record proceedings.

“This meant that Nub News were able to cover two meetings that clashed this week – Axminster Town Council and Colyton Parish Council – at the same time.

“Most councillors can’t wait to return to the days when they met in public but there is a train of thought that advocates more meetings via video links because it may encourage more council taxpayers to take a greater interest in local affairs, and it may even encourage more youngsters to seek election.”

Writing on Tuesday, he added: “It was inevitable, I suppose, that when Axminster Town Council met on Monday evening that someone purporting to be ‘Jackie Weaver’ joined the Zoom meeting, although she or he did not reveal their true identity. Will she appear again at the next Guildhall meeting, I ask myself?

“Just imagine how many are going to try and register on Zoom for the next meeting of Handforth Parish Council to see if the irate members who have made such a fool of themselves will recover their decorum.”

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