Steaming row after heat forces council meeting cancellation

August 01 2021

A ROW has erupted after a council meeting was cancelled at the 11th hour because of sweltering heat and soaring Covid cases.

Opposition groups branded the Government “reckless and short-sighted” for refusing to allow remote meetings, following the decision to call off a full council meeting of South Gloucestershire Council on Wednesday evening (July 21).

Up to 61 members, as well as officers and members of the public, would have crammed into Kingswood civic centre’s chamber as both temperatures and coronavirus rates across the district remained high.

It was postponed on the advice of director of public health Sara Blackmore because of the extreme heat, number of attendees expected and increasing incidents of Covid-19.

Kingswood Civic Centre

The ruling Conservative group hit back at the criticism, saying that holding the meeting posed a health hazard and that the opposition attacks were “redundant” because virtual meetings would require new legislation and that they “could not blame the Government for the weather”.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “The Government has published updated guidance highlighting how councils can minimise the risks of face-to-face meetings.”

Councils had to return to face-to-face meetings after the Government decided not to renew emergency coronavirus laws allowing them to be held remotely after May 7, a decision widely criticised at the time by councillors of all parties.

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said the meeting would be rescheduled. 

Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter