There was a lively meeting of the Burgh and Tuttington Parish Council this Wednesday 13th January 2021. The meeting was held online via Zoom. Attending were five Parish Councillors and the Parish Clerk, two Broadland District Councillors one of whom is also a Norfolk County Councillor, together with five residents.
The Parish Council usually meets during winter in Burgh Reading Room (it’s heated!) and in the summer months in Tuttington Church. But in these days of the Pandemic when we must all keep our distance, we must eschew the usual camaraderie and bonhomie of face-to-face meetings for the pleasures of the internet (ahem).
Conventions of social interaction using Zoom are still becoming established but one major advantage is the ability to stay at home. Apart from keeping warm with a cup of coffee or a favourite tipple to help the meeting along, you can also choose a background to convey your inner self to others at the meeting.
Some people sit in front of a large bookshelf showing how well-read they are, or some posh furniture, others choose a blank wall, the kitchen sink or their dazzling array of tools if they have been confined to the garden shed. Better still, choose your own digital background and convince others at the meeting that you are skiing in the Alps, or trekking across the Australian outback (after all the appropriate quarantining, of course).
From a sedentary position using the Zoom mute mode, you can (try to) instruct your partner to feed the dog, complete the washing up or other essential household chores while you yourself get on with the more important task of being at the meeting.
And then there is incognito mode (not recommended for Parish Councillors), where you can just sit and listen to the meeting in almost complete privacy. Or if you wish, do what is becoming known as a Zoom snooze (you get what I mean).
Should you wish to comment during that part of the Parish Council meeting where the public are allowed to speak, you can raise your hand to catch the Chairman’s eye, and off you go. For the more shy amongst us, why not send a discrete text message via the Zoom app to all the others attending. Usually, it’s only the Parish Councillors who are allowed to speak outside of the public session but with Zoom you can sneak in a little text message in a way that would just not be possible at a face-to-face meeting.
Back to the meeting itself. Various things were discussed including Tuttington village green fencing, speed control in the parish, offshore windfarm trenches, a Christmas card from our local MP and other matters of import.
I can see that if we ever get back to holding meetings in Burgh Reading Room or Tuttington Church again, some residents might well insist we have a Zoom connection as well, and that would be no bad thing at all if it raises the level of community involvement even further.