Council’s Independent group leader refuses virtual meetings with council leadership
News | Emily Gill - Local Democracy Reporting Service | Published: 13:02, Friday June 26th, 2020.
Last updated: 13:03, Friday June 26th, 2020
The council’s Independent group leader has refused to hold virtual meetings with the leader of the council, despite multiple offers.
Cllr Graham Simmonds, who represents the Cefn Fforest ward, said that he was prepared to meet face-to-face with the leadership but sees “no point in speaking over the internet with people who refuse to answer questions put by email.”
Speaking in a cabinet meeting, Councillor Philippa Marsden – leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council and leader of the Labour group – said she had reached out to both opposition group leaders about virtual meetings.
While Plaid Cymru’s group leader Cllr Colin Mann agreed to regular updates via remote meetings on the Microsoft Teams platform, Cllr Simmonds did not.
Cllr Marsden said: “I have had regular meetings and correspondence with the leader of the Plaid group and that’s been ongoing through the pandemic.
“We’ve had a good relationship in the sense that we’ve updated Cllr Mann on all fronts in relation to things we have had to deal with.
“That has actually worked really well. We have had fortnightly meetings which have been invaluable.”
During the cabinet meeting, council deputy leader Cllr Sean Morgan asked whether Cllr Simmonds had refused to meet with Cllr Marsden during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Marsden replied: “Yes, the offer was given for telephone conferences in the first instance with the leader of the Independent group and then subsequently when we had Teams installed on our machines he refused to take part in those.
“He said he would leave it to face-to-face meetings.”
However, the cabinet heard that it could be quite some time before face-to-face meetings take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Face-to-face council meetings were suspended in March following a UK-wide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is not clear when it will be possible to hold such meetings again.
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