East Sussex County Council holds first post-election meeting
Amid a flurry of face masks and hand sanitizer, East Sussex county councillors have met for their first full and in-person council meeting in more than a year.
The meeting, held on Tuesday (May 25), was also the authority’s first full council meeting since the local elections earlier this month, with many members taking their seats for the first time.
Usually these meetings are busy and full of discussion, as the political parties set out their stall for the coming council term and go through the process of appointing a new chairman.
However, this meeting was a brief and speedy affair, with councillors (required to meet in person due to national legislation) having agreed to limit discussion and debate in an effort to adhere to public health guidelines.
Council leader Keith Glazier said: “I would just like to get on record my thanks to all the officers who have made today’s meeting possible.
“It is not what we wanted, we would want to be in a much different position and I thank my colleagues from across the political divide for keeping this meeting short, efficient and to the point.”
While required to meet in person, the council took a number of public health precautions, including attempts to space out seating to allow councillors to keep their distance from one another.
Attendees also had their temperature taken as they came into the building and were given fresh masks and hand sanitizer before heading in.
As a result of these precautions, discussions at the meeting were limited to a small number of constitutional matters, including the confirmation of committee appointments and official matters.
The rest of the agenda (likely to involve some areas of political disagreement and debate) have been deferred until a meeting set to take place in late July.
However, the meeting did see Hastings Ashdown councillor Peter Pragnell (Con) appointed the council’s new chairman for the coming year. He takes over from former council chairman David Elkin, who stood down as a councillor ahead of the election earlier this month.
Cllr Glazier also confirmed the appointment of a new cabinet member, with Cllr Bob Bowdler being named new cabinet member for children and families.
In a statement released after the meeting, Cllr Glazier said: “In May’s elections we said goodbye to some dedicated and experienced councillors, including former cabinet members Sylvia Tidy and Bill Bentley, and welcomed some new faces to the council chamber.
“I look forward to working with my cabinet colleagues and all the elected members, regardless of party.
“Our priorities include recovery from covid and making East Sussex County Council carbon neutral as quickly as possible.”