Angus should move its council meetings fully online to save money, attract new faces and increase public transparency, a leading administration figure has said.
Economic development spokesman Braden Davy – the authority’s second youngest elected member – has claimed the switch would be a “win-win” which could cut tens of thousands of pounds from the annual expenses bill.
Angus was one of the first councils in Scotland to move to remote meetings following the pandemic outbreak.
Despite early difficulties including one Covid-19 emergency committee being hijacked by unwelcome guests who posted porn on the Zoom meeting screen, a range of meetings have been staged remotely.
Plans are now being drawn up to continue council meetings remotely for at least six months, with the normal Angus committee cycle set to resume online in August.
Forfar Conservative Mr Davy previously failed in attempts to have council meetings moved from 2pm to 6pm. He also pushed forward a plan to live stream committees but that was put on hold on cost grounds.
He said “For a long time it has been exceptionally difficult for the Angus public to engage in council meetings. To see our discussions, it involved a trip to Forfar on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. There is no way to see what happens, or watch proceedings after the meeting.
“Moving meetings wholly online has been shown to work already. It allows the Angus public to tune in, recordings of the meetings can be watched back, and people will be able to see deliberations for themselves.
“It will also help cut the cost of politics. It cost over £50,000 last year to get councillors from A to B, not including staff travel time and costs.
“Instead of bringing everyone to Forfar at great expense, for meetings which can’t be viewed by the public, we can save money, broadcast them online, and provide more accessibility and transparency.
“It’s a win-win,” he said.
“The council plans for this will be reviewed every six months, but I’d like to see this being a permanent arrangement.
“We need to encourage more people to stand for election and increase the diversity of candidates and councillors. If people knew they could do meetings online, from work, or whilst caring for family, it would allow a whole new range of individuals to stand for election.
“I am very happy to see this change, I hope it becomes a permanent feature to bring Angus Council into the 21st century.”