Coronavirus in Hampshire: Fareham councillor says not having virtual meetings for self-isolating politicians is 'stupid'

POLITICIANS self-isolating due to Covid should still be allowed to attend meetings virtually, a councillor has said.

At today's Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service Authority meeting in Eastleigh, Councillor Jason Fazackarley was unable to attend as he is self-isolating at home in Portsmouth.

The government regulations allowing local authorities to meet online expired on May 6. Prior to that, councils and other authorities had been meeting virtually in adherence with the government's lockdown restrictions.

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Councillor Roger Price spoke out at the meeting. Picture: Sarah Standing

However, this means that councillors who are self-isolating are unable to attend in any way.

Speaking at the meeting, Fareham councillor Roger Price voiced his frustration at the situation.

He said: 'What I find totally unacceptable is that Parliament can meet partly online, and yet we're not allowed to do so to allow him to attend.

'The system doesn't allow him - I'm not blaming the [fire] service, it's that the legislation is stupid.'

Cllr Fazackarley, who serves as a Nelson ward councillor for Portsmouth City Council, will end his self-isolation period tomorrow [July 28].

On July 19 Portsmouth's full council meeting was abandoned when Cllr Matthew Atkins tested positive for Covid-19, after meeting with fellow Conservatives.

Cllr Fazackarley, a Liberal Democrat politician, believes that not being able to attend meetings online is something that should be reconsidered, especially with the recent spike in NHS Test and Trace 'pings'.

'I would have gladly attended the meeting virtually,' he said.

'The rules on self-isolation have to be respected and I have no questions about that. But so many people are being told to do so during this pingdemic that it would be useful to bring back virtual attendance for local authority meetings.

'We did it before so there can be no doubt that it's possible.'

Data from NHS Test and Trace confirmed that 618,903 self-isolation alerts were sent out in England and Wales between July 8-15, a 17 per cent rise from the previous week.

Cllr Fazackarley also called into question the democratic impact of not being able to attend meetings.

He said: 'To a degree it cuts people out, through no fault of their own.

'Ultimately it's the residents who lose their voice, because the councillor isn't allowed to represent them.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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