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Newcastle's Opposition Liberal Democrats welcome return of Full Council business - restoring voices, scrutinising Administration, debating key issue

September 2, 2020 11:57 AM
Newcastle Civic CentreThe Liberal Democrats Opposition on Newcastle City Council has welcomed a return to full Council business this week, bringing forward timely motions on mental health, apprenticeships and skills training, schools and the disadvantaged gap, and the crisis in Hong Kong.
Efforts to bring up these topics for discussion at the last virtual Council meeting in July were stymied by the Administration on the grounds of technological restrictions. Whilst the September meeting remains virtual, full business can now proceed, allowing Councillors the opportunity to debate important policy affecting the City. Previous efforts to throttle debate were met with outcry by the Opposition, who feared that democratic accountability was being thwarted.
Cllr Wendy Taylor, who is proposing the motion on the mental health impact of COVID-19, said: "The topics identified for debate by the Opposition have a real bearing on people's lives. COVID-19 is having a wide-ranging impact on society beyond the physical health and economic implications.
"We're particularly worried about the effect on young people, whether it is the lasting impact on their mental health as a result of lockdown or the disruption caused by six months' lost schooling, particularly for the disadvantaged."
Cllr Cott, the Liberal Democrats Group Leader, said: "It's good to see that normal business can continue, even in a virtual setting, and we're grateful to Council Officers for making this happen. A full programme of Council business is vital to give backbench and Opposition members a voice, to facilitate crucial Scrutiny of the Administration's policy agenda, and to promote accountability to the public. We look forward to the debate."