Just six out of more than 30 Fife Council committee meetings scheduled between now and the start of July are expected to go ahead on a remote basis, The Courier understands.
Fife’s policy and co-ordination committee, which has the authority to discharge council functions except those reserved to the full Fife Council meeting, will go ahead on May 21 and June 18, while the north east Fife planning committee and central and west Fife planning committee are also likely to be held in both May and June.
However, all other committees have been cancelled until at least July 3.
Officials are ensuring councillors who sit on the relevant committees will be able to access it remotely, although the intention is to have the committee convener, a committee officer and lead officers physically in Fife House in Glenrothes to oversee proceedings.
Guidance is being drawn up for elected members on how to “effectively participate”.
Independent councillor Linda Holt has welcomed the decision to restore some of the committee meetings but believes it has come “too late” and is “not nearly enough”.
“On Monday evening, Crail Community Council held its second very successful monthly meeting using zoom; last week Anstruther Community Council did the same.
“These meetings allow all members of the community council as well as members of the public to participate.
“Community council members are unpaid volunteers without the considerable financial and technical resources which Fife Council has at its disposal.
“Yet they put the effort in because they know how important transparency and accountability are to democratic decision-making and community spirit.
“Transparency and accountability are the very last things a council should be skimping on during a public health emergency when it is absolutely paramount that people’s morale and faith in their government is maintained.”
Morag Ferguson, head of legal and democratic services at Fife Council, has contacted all councillors highlighting how they can overcome in remote committee participation challenges.
She said: “We are currently exploring how we can fulfil our legal obligation to ensure these meetings are accessible to members of the public without compromising the security of the call, as has happened elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, community councils across Fife have been contacted, asking them to consider how they can restart meetings.
A letter to members from Fife Council stressed while remote meetings are possible, it is important for community councils to remember meetings should be “accessible to members of the public”.