Surrey Lib Dems urge County Council to retain virtual meetings post lockdown

March 17, 2021 10:48 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Surrey County Council unanimously agreed a motion from the Lib Dems today which would see the Council look at holding meetings remotely after lockdown has finished.

The County Council hopes virtual meetings will save taxpayers money and reduce its environmental impact, as well as encourage more working age people and those with caring responsibilities to become Councillors.

The Council has also seen an increase in public engagement since meetings moved online, letting local people challenge their Council and Councillors remotely from their homes.

The decision was taken after the Council confirmed it had saved over £2 million on travel costs in the last year. The cost of Councillors' travel from April 2020 to February 2021 was less than £5,000, the bill from the same period the year before was over £50,000. Staff travel costs in the same period was £2.1 million, less than half the year before.

Lib Dem Councillor Will Forster, who proposed the motion, said:

"I am pleased County Councillors unanimously backed my motion on virtual meetings. We have seen in the last year that holding meetings remotely enables the Council to save a significant amount of money in travel costs as people no longer have travel across Surrey for a meeting than could be done virtually."

"With local elections coming up, I hope this encourages more younger people and those with families and caring roles to stand as a Councillor. Better decisions will be made by local authorities if the Councillors making the decisions truly represent their communities."