The Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has urged Cornwall Council to re-open its offices, allow staff to return to work and get back to having meetings following a question raised in Parliament today by Steve Double MP
The St Austell and Newquay MP has been contacted by many residents and staff at the council who are concerned that Cornwall Council is stalling in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and using the lockdown rules to permanently close offices, while delaying in returning to meetings to avoid scrutiny of these same decisions.
Speaking in Parliament today, Steve asked for a Government Statement on the importance of local authorities like Cornwall Council taking a lead in re-opening their offices, allowing staff to get back to the workplace, reopening public facing services, and holding council meetings, whether hybrid or virtual, to allow their decisions to be properly scrutinised.
In response the Leader of the House of Commons agreed with Steve, and pointed to guidance that allows Cornwall Council to hold meetings in council buildings, as well as stressing the importance of reopening offices. He stated that Cornwall Council should not ‘make lives difficult for democratic accountability’ and get back to more normal working.
Speaking after the debate, Steve said:
“I have been concerned by the numbers of people, including council staff and Cornwall Councillors as well as residents, who have contacted me with concerns about how Cornwall Council is being run during this pandemic.”
“It is important that Cornwall Council allows its staff every opportunity to return to the workplace. Many people struggle with working from home for a variety of valid reasons and were only doing so because it was a necessity earlier in lockdown.”
“Cornwall Council should reopen their offices and a full range of accessible services as soon as possible, not just for their staff but for the people of Cornwall who they are here to serve.”
“At the same time the officers need to hand powers back to the Cornwall Councillors, allow proper meetings to take place and their decisions to be scrutinised.”
“I was pleased to see the Leader of the House of Commons agree with me and highlight the guidance that will show how Cornwall Council can do this. I will continue to press the need for normal business at the council to resume as soon as possible.”
To view the question and reply, follow the link here