A RESPONDENT to a survey of county councillors said “I will have to resign my seat” if made to return to the council chamber for meetings.

The anonymous comment was made as part of a Workwise/Covid-19 councillor survey, which was discussed at Conwy county council’s democratic services committee on Monday.

Of the 59 members invited 40 responded – and their answers highlight how difficult reopening local democracy will be.

The authority’s head of service revealed she was looking to set up “hybrid” meetings, like those that had been used in UK Parliament, because some councillors’ were worried about attending the council chamber.

Hybrid meetings would see some members attending in person and others dialling in virtually, using Zoom or a similar platform.

All 59 councillors were asked to respond to the survey as the council tries to sort out a way of getting transparent democracy up and running as lockdown is relaxed.

Head of democratic services, Sian Williams, said Bodlondeb and Coed Pella council offices would reopen at some point but some members didn’t want to return to open meetings.

She said: “One respondent said ‘If I was made to come into the council chamber I would have to resign my seat’.

“It’s about looking at which meetings are going to be remote, which are going to be hybrid and which are going to be face to face.”

Rhyl Journal:


Cllr Phillip Evans, of Tudno ward, saw no reason why socially distanced meetings couldn’t resume.

He said: “I would like to say that I and a colleague have managed to get 40 people into church.

“So when you say you can’t get people into Bodlondeb I’m slightly flabbergasted.”

Ms Williams told the meeting councillors had to fill out a risk assessment before being allowed back into council buildings.

The score for each councillor would dictate what advice they were given.

Cllr Anne McCaffrey, Penmaenmawr ward, said she was “delighted” about the modernisation into a “digital council” as the situation with Covid could be “hellish” going into winter, according to some experts.

She added: “As a council we will need a ‘Plan B’ about how we function democratically.”

Some councillors have raised concerns about the use of digital platforms when it comes to “secret ballots” on contentious issues.

They say it will be difficult if members are attending meetings by phone, as some have had to due to technological issues.

Cllr Charlie McCoubrey, of Pentre Mawr ward, revealed he has reservations about relying on remote meetings.

He said: “I just think we need to be really, really careful about remote voting.

“If that process is not really clear we can be open to legal challenge. How do we know what people are on the phone.

“Lots of people have their video off and we don’t know who’s in the room with them.

“Remote meetings are brilliant but there’s a reason people are dragged through the lobby in Parliament.

“It’s because we can see people are who they say they are – it’s that proof in law.”

The survey showed how most councillors believed “some” of their role could be conducted from home in the future, including attending meetings.

However when it came to full council and cabinet meetings most favoured people being in the room for those important debates.

One major meeting, for which a solution will need to be found quickly, is the authority’s annual general meeting which is pencilled in for September 23.