Stn Report on the Annual Town and Full Syston Town Council meetings held via Zoom on Tuesday 22nd September 2020

The Annual Town meeting was held via Zoom on the above date having been delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions from May. There were 12 Councillors (Cllrs), four officers, not the usual attendance as normally only two officers are present, plus two members of the public present.

Apologies were received from Cllrs T. Barkley, M. Carnall, L. Towell and County Cllr J. Poland.

The meeting was chaired by the Vice Chairman Cllr J. Lucas and he began by accepting the minutes from the previous town meeting.

The were no Chairman’s Announcements and so the meeting proceeded with the individual committee annual reports.

Each chair of each committee thanked the Cllrs who attended the meetings and the officers for their hard work across the previous year and explained that recent meetings had been held via Zoom due the Covid-19. Two out of the three were read out to the attendees and the third was tabled.

The Chairman’s report was read out in his absence by the Vice Chairman and he reminded everyone that the report was written up to the 31st March as it should have been presented in May. He went through the achievements of the council during 2019 – 20 up to that date and thanked everyone involved for their hard work and commitment to the town.

The final reports will be available on the Syston Town Council website if you wish to read them in full.

Fiona Henry Editor.

The Full Council Meeting report is written by Reece Stephenson, undergraduate in Journalism as part of his work experience with the Syston Town News.

After a short break the full council meeting began at 7.30pm with an adjustment to those in attendance. A member of the public left and borough Cllr S. Bradshaw joined the meeting.

This council meeting showed how much change the council has gone through due to the governmental guidelines during the current Covid-19 situation.

The meeting began with Cllr J. Lucas announcing the passing of Paul Henry, he asked for a minute’s silence for Cllrs, officers and members of the public to show their gratitude for the work and commitment he gave to Syston Town Council and the people of Syston as a former Cllr and Chairman of the Council.

There were no matters raised by the public, so the meeting continued as per the agenda.

A new Cllr Scott Walker was introduced to the council.

All reports from the police, county and borough councillors were tabled, only the Town Manager’s report was given on the night.

All minutes were agreed and accepted.

The Room Hire and Regulations agenda item highlighted the changes being made under governmental guidelines. Cemeteries such as the one located on Millstone Lane have had their maximum visitor capacity lowered down to 30. The sports pavilion will now be used for toilet use only and the community centre are now enforcing a six person per room rule due to the rule of six guidelines. Cllr K. Pacey raised concern over the ambiguity of the guidelines in regards to public events such as junior football matches. The Town Manager Ms C. Voyce and Cllr J. Lucas clarified that these will be socially distanced events in which one parent per child will only be allowed.

On-going developments impacting Council operations (Covid-19) this item explained how much the pandemic has affected the town’s events. East Midlands In Bloom, the food festival and the Christmas event have all been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. However, the town manager Ms C. Voyce mentioned that the council are now working alongside the Syston branch of the Royal British Legion to set up a socially distanced Remembrance Day event.

Syston Council also emphasised the importance to staying safe and obeying governmental guidelines. A report by Jason Green, facilities manager, explained the focus on track and trace forms being used by the public as well as office staff. Sanitised stations, safe distance measures and screens separating desks are also now in use.

There was a lot of confusion with regard to councillor absenteeism, namely how to go about resolving two councillors, Cllr H. Screaton and Cllr C. Booth, absence. It was agreed to separate then and deal with them individually. Cllr K. Pacey explained for the benefit of new Cllrs that the rules state if any member is absent for six months without giving apologies to any meeting they can be removed from the council. The town manager Ms C. Voyce was asked if she had contacted the Cllrs and she explained she had received no reply to an email she sent Cllr C. Booth asking if she wished to continue on the council. Cllr H. Screaton had been unwell and had been unable to attend and he was present at this meeting to explain, Council agreed to reinstate Cllr H Screaton and remove Cllr C. Booth.

In the Town Managers report the officers now believe they can no longer only work from home due to the sheer amount of workload in the community centre. or not new councillors require computer training as many if not all of the ongoing council meetings will be hosted through Zoom calls.

The council are trying to adapt through potentially focusing on more digital forms of communication.

Social media engagement seems also to be a potential focus for councillors to allow the public to keep track of developments in the community. Cllr S. Visavidia expressed interest and believed it would be beneficial to not only the public but to councillors. However, Cllr K. Pacey raised a concern as this would require training and believed social media platforms “cause a lot of physical and mental harm.”

Covid-19 and the lockdown has shaken up the structure and normal running of many organisations as well as the Syston Town Council but it is clear they are trying their best.

Reece Stephenson
Undergraduate in Journalism

Thank you Reece for producing this report, not easy via Zoom call.
Fiona Henry, Editor.

For the official minutes of this and other Town Council Meetings please visit their website: 
You can attend any council meeting held on Tuesday evenings 7.30pm. Currently via Zoom.
Details are posted across all Town Council notice boards.