Mid-Ulster Council monthly meeting to go ahead amid pandemic

Mid-Ulster Council monthly meeting to go ahead amid pandemic

Mid-Ulster Council's monthly meeting will go ahead as planned in Dungannon Council Offices.

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THE monthly meeting of Mid-Ulster District Council will take place, as planned, tonight (Thursday, 23 April), the Council has confirmed.

Speaking about the meeting, a spokesperson for the Council said the meeting would be taking place with the “same arrangements as the Council meeting in March”.

At the time of last month's meeting, a spokesperson for the Council said social distancing measures will be adhered to throughout any Council meeting.

“The Council’s priorities in responding to COVID-19 have been to safeguard our staff, maintain delivery of our essential services and provide support to our communities and businesses. This remains our focus,” the spokesperson said.

“The Council will meet with appropriate social distancing measures in place.

“All councillors, staff, media and the public are being kept-up-to-date as and when required on the Council’s response to COVID-19.”

The confirmation that the meeting will go ahead has been welcomed by local councillors.

Independent Councillor Dan Kerr said he welcomed the decision to hold the public meeting, provided social distancing measures were respected.

“I feel it is appropriate as long as social distancing is adhered to and the proper recommendations are in place,” said Cllr Kerr.

“Local governance is hugely important during these difficult times and Council has been at the forefront, preparing and helping volunteer and community groups to assist their local communities.”

Sinn Fein councillor Cathal Mallaghan said the meetings are important as Council works to provide for the local community.

“Mid Ulster District Council will meet on Thursday (April 23rd) night to discuss and decide on a range of issues related to the COVID-19 crisis as well as future governance arrangements and to allow some major capital projects to proceed,” said the Cookstown councillor.

“This is important as we continue to support our local community, provide ground support for COVID-19 and approve provisions for the economy with important investment opportunities in the months ahead.

“The four main parties have agreed to reduce the numbers of councillors attending in order to provide social distancing measures.

“While most decisions relating directly to public health have been delegated to the CEO, local politicians are still the decision makers across a range of issues and I am content with the arrangements put in place so we can continue to do our work, even in a reduced capacity.”

The Council Deputy Chair, Councillor Clement Cuthbertson said the meeting gives the opportunity for elected representatives to be involved in operational decisions.

“It is important democracy is maintained and that elected representatives continue to be consulted and involved in operational decisions of the Council,” said Cllr Cuthbertson.

“The meeting, like the previous month, will see the numbers in the chamber reduced to approximately one third, similar to the NI Assembly and Westminster.

“As Council are responsible for issues like planning, it is important that there is no delay in processing applications. Mid Ulster will need developments sitting shovel ready to help stimulate the local economy again.”

Independent Councillor Barry Monteith also welcomed the meeting, saying councillors have a duty to the people they serve.

“Council coordinates the food scheme to vulnerable people through local volunteers and provides substantial funding to the community sector at this time,” he said.

“The economic recovery also needs to be addressed by Council. I think the public would be rightly angry if Council were not dealing with these. All other council meetings are suspended and social distancing will be in place, as it was at last month’s meeting.”

UUP Councillor Trevor Wilson said it was important Council was meeting during this difficult time.

“Thursday night’s Council meeting will be important,” said the Cookstown representative.

“We need to be meeting at times like this to ensure we are making decisions and being kept informed of decisions being made by Council officials.

“Our numbers will be reduced in line with social distancing and that is the right thing to do.”

The SDLP’s Malachy Quinn also welcomed the opportunity for Mid Ulster District Council to meet.

“I have no problem with tomorrow night’s meeting going ahead,” said Cllr Quinn.

“It is important Council get the chance to discuss urgent matters and we will be adhering to social distancing requirements. I am of the understanding only two of our members will be present to allow for this.”

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