March 16, 2020 2.39 pm This story is over 49 months old

Lincolnshire councils and coronavirus: Meetings cancelled and older councillors at risk

Local democracy could be affected

Councils across Lincolnshire could soon start to feel the strain of the COVID-19 outbreak, with some already postponing meetings.

The latest considerations by government could also see some councils lose a number of older members temporarily. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4 that over-70s could be asked to stay at home in the coming weeks.

As of Monday, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the UK stood at 1,391.

Public Health England has previously reported that 35 people who had contracted the virus had died.

The Government, however, is no longer routinely testing or contract tracing everyone who reports symptoms, so the number is expected to be higher.

North East Lincolnshire Council today confirmed its full council meeting, due to be held on Thursday, had been cancelled due to concerns about the virus.

Chief Executive Rob Walsh said: “Given the prevailing concerns regarding COVID-19 and the likely heightened response that will follow in the coming days, the leader of the council has agreed with my recommendation that this week’s meeting of full council should be postponed.

“We will also be reviewing the position regarding other council public meetings in the immediate future in line with any ongoing guidance and recommendations from government.’’

Some councils are facing a large swathe of their numbers being unable to attend council meetings in the face of the potential quarantine.

Lincoln, for instance, has nine councillors of its 33 aged over 70, while East Lindsey District Council has 13 members in that age range.

Councils, however, refused to reveal who the councillors were, making it unclear whether the absences could affect party majorities and, therefore, decisions made.

A spokesman for ELDC said decisions on cancellations, however, would be made depending “on what meetings are scheduled for them on how it will affect the make-up of the council.

“The council is actively involved with the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum and will take advice and actions from there,” said the spokesman.

Lincolnshire County Council refused to reveal how many of its councillors were over 70, however, authority leader Martin Hill who is 65 will not be affected by the quarantine.

Councillor Hill said: “Local democracy will not be affected. We will still be making decisions as necessary and will have contingency plans in place to cover any eventuality.”

All upper tier councils in Greater Lincolnshire have been contacted for comments.

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