The format of Kent County Council’s (KCC) full council meeting on Thursday 16 December has been revised to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

KCC’s political groups have agreed there will be a reduced agenda at the next bi-monthly meeting and, while the election of a new Chair and Deputy Chair will go ahead, the planned Invicta Award and Honorary Alderman awards will now take place in the New Year.

There is cross-party agreement that attendance at County Hall, in Maidstone, will be limited, in a politically proportionate way, so fair representation and social distancing can take place in the Council Chamber.

Councillors who are not physically at the meeting will be able to attend virtually via TEAMS. However, current government legislation means that they will not be able to vote, move or amend motions. Members will be kept informed should any legal changes be introduced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in time to affect next Thursday’s meeting arrangements.

Interim Director of Public Health for Kent Dr Allison Duggal said: “We continue to keep a careful eye on the implications of COVID-19 and the new omicron variant for the county and have seen a rapid rise in cases in recent weeks.

“Given it is not possible to socially distance adequately at larger council meetings, and it is impractical to ventilate buildings to the required degree, I have advised we need to revert to alternative ways of holding these meetings at least until we see infection rates fall and we have better understanding of omicron.

“Members who are attending the full council are being asked to take extra precautions, including completing lateral flow tests, wearing face coverings and maintaining a two-metre social distance whilst inside County Hall.

KCC’s Leader, Roger Gough

“Other smaller Member meetings at Kent County Council are already run on a two-metre social distanced basis and, while it is not anticipated any other changes will be necessary, the situation will remain under review.”

Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “COVID continues to pose enormous challenges to all of us as it impacts our daily lives, our communities, our businesses and our wider economy.

“Throughout, my priority remains to ensure that Kent County Council continues to deliver, within Government guidelines, the important and trusted services we have always provided for the residents of Kent.

“I thank Members for their ongoing dedication to public service at this challenging time and for working so constructively across party to ensure we can all go about our vital council work safely and interrupted.”

The full agenda, meeting documents and webcast link to watch the full council meeting are available in the KCC website at: https://democracy.kent.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=113&MId=8753

By Ed

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