Return of Newcastle City Council meetings on line means return of democracy - Labour can be held to account again by Liberal Democrats

June 17, 2020 9:37 AM

Cllr Dr Nick Cott 2019Liberal Democrat Councillors have welcomed the return of Newcastle City Council meetings, bringing forward timely motions addressing unemployment action, support for the Black Lives Matter movement, calls for action on mental health, and the crisis in Hong Kong.

Meetings are a vital component of the effective operation of the Council, enabling councillors to hold the Administration to account and to ensure that local priorities and concerns are fully considered. Questions and motions at full Council meetings enable backbench members to engage with Council business and ensure that important matters for the City are recognised by all elected members.

Cllr Nick Cott, the new Lib Dem Group Leader, said: "We recognise that it was the right thing to do, at the height of lockdown, to postpone scheduled meetings. As we move into a new phase of the Coronavirus crisis, we must return to our regular ways of working. We should see the suspension of democratic processes as a decision of last resort, not to be taken lightly and to be reversed as swiftly as possible. I am pleased to see a proper schedule of meetings developing: if they can do it at Westminster, we can do it here in Newcastle."

Cllr Anita Lower, outgoing Leader of the Opposition, said: "We have pressed for a return of regular business. We are grateful to officers for their efforts to make this work for the City. Residents will be reassured to know that proper discussions are once again taking place, covering the full range of business that would normally be expected. These may be virtual, rather than physical, but that does not stop the proper procedures taking effect."

The Liberal Democrats motions are:

1. The Lib Dem Opposition are bringing forward the following motions:
a. Black Lives Matter - welcoming moves to address long-standing structural race inequalities in the UK;
b. Mental Health - highlighting the enormous mental health impact of the COVID-19 crisis;
c. Holiday Hunger - calling on Government to provide support for children in receipt of Free School Meals throughout the summer;
d. Hong Kong Refugees - highlighting Newcastle's role as a City of Sanctuary in the context of the current crisis in Hong Kong;
e. Apprenticeships and Skills Training - calling for increased investment in apprenticeship and skills training, in collaboration with regional bodies.

Newcastle City Council has not had a full meeting of all Councillors since 4th March 2020.