Coronavirus: Town council meeting axed despite being 'Covid safe'

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Porthmadog town councillors planned a socially-distanced meeting at Y Ganolfan community centre

Town councillors claim their first meeting in person in six months was cancelled at the last minute by public protection officers.

Porthmadog Town Council's clerk and 15 members planned a socially-distanced meeting on Tuesday evening in a room designed to hold 400 people.

That afternoon, Gwynedd Council told organisers it could not go ahead.

A spokesperson said town councils had been "strongly advised" to hold meetings online during the pandemic.

Councillor Carol Hayes said: "I'm so angry that this decision was made despite the clerk and the staff doing everything possible to make that room safe for everyone."

Alwyn Gruffydd, who sits on both Porthmadog and Gwynedd councils, said the cancellation "doesn't really say much for democracy".

"With social distancing and markers on the floor to keep everyone away from each other, [it] seems much safer than any supermarket at the moment."

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Not everyone has the technology to take part in virtual meetings, councillors say

Porthmadog Town Council chairman Gwilym Jones said it had not been possible to arrange virtual meetings via video conferencing as some members did not have access to such technology.

He described the late cancellation as "disappointing", saying: "There was a lot of anticipation to meeting for the first time in months.

"But, in fairness, it is of paramount importance that we adhere to the rules and that's what we have done."

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands Penrhyndeudraeth Town Council had a similar meeting cancelled at short notice on Tuesday as well.

In response, a Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: "We have strongly advised town and community councils to consider alternative options such meeting remotely online, to continue to safeguard their members and the wider community from the further spread of the virus.

"Should any town or community council decide to meet face-to-face, they will be responsible for ensuring that strict safety measures are in place."

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