Angus became one of the first councils in Scotland to reconvene since the outset of the Covid-crisis in an online ‘Cobra-style’ summit.
In a publicly-accessible full council meeting on the Zoom video platform, a series of emergency measures were agreed and special committees set up to make quick decisions on important issues during the pandemic.
The council’s action to assist residents includes a halt to eviction and the suspension of recovery of council tax and rent arrears for three months.
Angus has also suspended it housing allocation policy, as well as unplanned repairs except emergencies.
Council chief executive Margo Williamson said: “Everything changes by the day. Pandemic planning is something we do all the time with a view to it never happening and here we are.”
She told members the council’s ‘silver’ operational group and ‘gold’ strategic group had been meeting on almost a daily basis for the past fortnight in view of the fast-changing situation.
“Our focus is on preserving life, protecting our old and vulnerable and protecting businesses affected by Covid-19,” she said, revealing that 1,200 local businesses had already been supported with Government money.
Around 30 members of the public logged in to the special meeting.
After a short delay to tackle technical teething problems, a political row over the make-up of the special body, with enhanced delegated powers, threatened to overshadow proceedings and turn it into what council leader David Fairweather branded a “circus”.
It will comprise of four coalition administration members, two opposition SNP councillors and Arbroath West and Letham Liberal Democrat Richard Moore after he was voted in ahead of Carnoustie Independent David Cheape.
Independent Lois Speed said: “We are here today in this worldwide crisis, in desperate times and with suffering going on across the world.
“Things have got out of hand, they’ve gone political and words have been spoken that there is no need for.
“For the sake of people in lockdown who have to get volunteers to bring them help, and for those working their hearts out to keep us alive, let’s not wander from that.”
Council leader Mr Fairweather said: “Let’s not turn it into a circus because that’s the way it’s going.
“I hoped it would not turn into a slanging match. There are more important issues going on here than people worrying about who is on what committee.”
Forfar Conservative councillor Braden Davy, who saw costs thwart a previous bid to have Angus meetings live streamed said: “I’ve tried to get meetings broadcast before, and it’s a shame about the circumstances that this has been achieved.
“It shows what we can do to create a modern, open, council with public engagement. I hope this is something that can continue in the future'”