Hucknall councillor blasts Nottinghamshire County Council meetings as 'Covid super spreaders'

A Hucknall county councillor has spoken has spoken out about the dangers of attending council meetings as Covid case numbers continue to spike.

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 2:57 pm

Coun John Wilmott (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall North at County Hall, made his comments at a meeting of the council’s health scrutiny committee where he labelled meetings at County Hall as ‘covid super spreaders.’

And he went on to call for all council meetings to go back online while the current wave of new Covid cases across Nottinghamshire and the UK continues to rise.

Government legislation at the start of the pandemic via the Coronavirus Act 2020 led to council meetings to be allowed to be held online.

Coun John Wilmott says face-to-face meetings at Nottinghamshire County Council carry a huge risk of being Covid super spreader events

This changed in May 2021, when councillors again began meeting face to face.

The Local Government Association has now moved all its meetings online and Coun Wilmott has called for council leader Coun Ben Bradley MP (Con) to ‘use his influence within Government to enable councillors to carry out their duty remotely’

Coun Wilmott’s comments are especially pertinent, given the rocketing number of Covid cases currently being seen in Hucknall.

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Coun Wilmott said to the committee: “I’d like to put apologies in for Coun David Martin (Ash Ind), who has joined the three other members of his family in testing positive for Covid.

"Coun Martin is asymptomatic, fortunately, and I feel that it is regrettable that his offer to join this meeting was turned down due to Government legislation.

“I myself have suffered from bronchitis over Christmas and I have had five PCR tests – fortunately they have been all negative.

"That said, I have had sleepless nights about coming into County Hall for face-to-face meetings.

"As a cancer survivor – and because of my age – I fall into the vulnerable category.

"All my life, I have put civic responsibility ahead of myself and that is why I am here.

“The last person who told me that they put civic responsibility ahead of themselves was former chairman of Ashfield District Council Anthony Brewer who continued to put civic responsibility ahead of his own health concerns.

"Anthony sadly died of Covid right at the start of the pandemic.

“Can the chairman please write to the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council to ask him to use any influence he has in Government to enable councillors to carry out their roles remotely.

"Covid super spreaders like council meetings like this need to end as we can still get the work done without putting council officers and staff at risk.”

Ashfield District Council, where Coun Wilmott also represents Hucknall North, has confirmed it is looking to move all the meetings it can online.

This includes its whole overview and scrutiny process.

And it is now calling for the Government to move the primary legislation to enable councillors to meet and vote online, as they did during successive lockdowns.