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'Horror' as climate council ends remote meetings

[news] time:2023-05-29 00:47:09 source:NBC News author:Press center5 click:129order

A "horrifying" decision to resume in-person council meetings despite climate worries has been criticised by members.

South Somerset District Council declared a climate emergency in May 2019 and took various steps to reduce its environmental impact.

It began holding live-streamed virtual meetings during the pandemic, with full council meetings only recently being held in person again.

The council has voted to meet in public until April 2023 despite opposition.

Measures put in place after declaring a climate emergency include installing solar panels on the council buildings and investing in leisure centres to make them more energy efficient.

However, Liberal Democrat councillor Henry Hobhouse told the full council in Yeovil on Thursday he objected to the in-person council meeting requirement.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service he said: "I am absolutely horrified by this council.

"Almost every single one you voted in favour of [declaring] a climate change emergency, and every single one of you is not thinking about what this is going to do to us and our fuel use over the next year."

He added: "If you don't like it, either say that you don't believe in the climate emergency or you will have to seriously look at your consciences."

Conservative councillor Nick Colbert agreed, stating: "It's a bit like Greta Thunberg jetting around the world to tell us not to jet around the world."

Councillor Tim Kerley, also Lib Dem, disagreed, and said decision-making had to be prioritised.

He said: "I would argue that the decisions we make in person are of a finer quality than the ones we make remotely."

Despite opposition, all meetings will now be held in person - meaning any councillor who attended online would not be able to vote.

However, some area committees will be allowed to meet virtually if no planning applications are on the agenda.

Meetings will still be live-streamed on YouTube for the public to observe if they cannot attend in person.

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