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Hybrid meetings will open up electoral opportunities to more, says Armstrong

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has backed plans to see a return to hybrid meeting models for Council meetings across Northern Ireland.

The Vice Chair of the Communities Committee was speaking as the Local Government Bill was given the go-ahead for accelerated passage through the Assembly, after the legislation ran out in early May.

Kellie said: “We must support all of our Councillors and Council staff across Northern Ireland who worked hard to keep our local communities going throughout Covid 19.

“For many this work is aided through the use of hybrid meeting models which allowed full participation and voting online – allowing decisions to be made whilst also keeping people safe during the height of the pandemic.

“One of the lasting impacts of Covid will be the flexible working style we have all been able to adopt and make successful. It is essential that we move forward with this style of working, that a consistent approach is created to ensure fairness and accountability.

“Anyone should be able to run for elected office and we should do all we can to make it accessible for all. Hybrid models allow for those who travel for work on occasion, who have caring responsibilities, or who might have had a period of illness. Less travel is better for the environment and the economic impact will help Councils as organisations recover in the post Covid era.

“I look forward to working with the Minister to bring this forward and will continue to ensure open and transparent access remains in place for all those wanting to witness the decision making process.”