Confusion over West Norfolk meeting resolved as councillors seek to address play area shortages
West Norfolk councillors were surprised to find out less than 30 minutes beforehand that a committee meeting was taking place in person rather than on Zoom this week.
The majority of the council meetings have been taking place through video communications software Zoom in recent months due to the coronavirus.
But borough councillors Alex Kemp, Jo Rust and Francis Bone were not aware that an Open Spaces Review meeting to discuss play areas was being held in the council chamber instead yesterday afternoon.
Ms Kemp said: “Everything else has been taking place on Zoom and it is council policy to hold them on Zoom at the moment.
“Officers thought we would be informed but it seems all too convenient. I was going to talk about the play area in South Lynn. Councils should not be meeting in public now.”
She added that the meeting was being held in the chamber so councillors could look at maps but she queried why this could not be done over Zoom by sharing the screen.
Ms Kemp contacted Norfolk’s director of public health Dr Louise Smith about the council “holding a meeting in person when we are facing a second wave”.
The councillors then attended a rearranged meeting online after the mix-up where Ms Kemp was able to get her points across regarding South Lynn.
Labour's Mrs Rust said: “I don’t believe at all that this was a deliberate ploy. An officer was off sick. The officers who are in attendance have prepared a full and detailed review of our open spaces.
“Alex spoke a lot about the South Lynn area. The residents can rest assured that she spoke up for them. As did Francis and I for our wards."
Ms Kemp has previously called for a new play area to address deprivation and health inequalities within the South Lynn area.
And the play area on the Queen Elizabeth Estate, within Mrs Rust's Springwood ward, was highlighted as an area which has been left for some time.
Mrs Rust said: "It was noted there would be a benefit to having more play equipment for younger children. But we are operating with a limited budget and it has to go to the areas most in need.
"This is why we’ll be meeting to walk around the play areas ourselves so we can make a strong case for the decisions made in the confidence that we’ve seen them ourselves."