Following on from the legal advice that there is an obligation to meet in person, the Green group on Fingal County Council has drawn up a proposal for online meetings which would see physical meetings taking place to confirm decisions taken at online meetings. We believe we must ensure the full operation of democratic local government in circumstances where physical distancing is a major challenge and a number of councillors are cocooning or self-isolating in line with advice for the protection of their own health or that of members of their households. The Corporate Policy Group today agreed to get legal advice on our proposal.
On foot of a proposal from the Green councillors, Fingal County Council is to reallocate road space in areas around the county to facilitate people queueing at local shops and exercising on local roads. As councillors we had noticed locations where narrow footpaths mean people have to pass close to each other either going in opposite directions or when there’s a queue outside shops. We, and fellow Green councillors around the country, were also aware of steps being taken across the world to reallocate road space.
When we raised it with the Corporate Policy Group (CPG) last week we were pleased with the positive reaction and support from other councillors and the immediate engagement of officials who shared our concerns and perspective on the potential for improvement. Yesterday the CPG approved a plan from the Operations Department addressing different areas of the County. Measures include
- temporarily widening footpath space by reallocating parking and loading bays (Howth, Malahide, Portmarnock, Balbriggan)
- pedestrianisation of the street (Malahide)
- converting bus lane to cycle lane and pavement cycle track to footpath (Castleknock)
- residents only car access to the street (Skerries)
If you have noticed other locations where similar measures could be taken, please suggest them.
We’re trying to get Fingal to meet online due to the pandemic and to ensure that even when restrictions are somewhat loosened, Councillors who are cocooning themselves or whose family or work situation puts them at higher risk, can attend meetings online.
We’re being met with legal issues as outlined in this opinion.