Full council meeting cancelled amid Omicron spread

Director of public health, Jyoti Atri (pictured) expressed her concerns about Cambridgeshire County Council's meeting

Director of public health, Jyoti Atri (pictured) expressed her concerns about Cambridgeshire County Council's meeting as Covid-19 Omicron numbers continue to rise. - Credit: LDRS / Pexels

Fears over the rising number of Omicron covid cases are behind the cancellation of a Cambridgeshire County Council meeting today.

Councillors had been due to meet at Burgess Hall, in St Ives, but the council’s leader Councillor Lucy Nethsingha announced on Twitter yesterday evening that it would not be taking place.

She said the meeting had been cancelled following “clear advice” from the director of public health and said the decision was necessary due to the council not being able to hold online meetings.

The director of public health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Jyoti Atri, advised the county council that she was concerned about large numbers of people that would have been meeting at the full council.

She said: “Omicron numbers are increasing rapidly nationally, with an estimated doubling time of two to three days.

“A number of Omicron cases have been detected locally and we are seeing outbreaks in a number of settings.

“We know that for every case detected, there are many more in the community.

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“Emerging research that was made public yesterday, as well as the national briefings I attended during yesterday afternoon, were indicating that two doses of vaccine do not offer sufficient protection.

“Having considered this further in the light of that research and those briefings, I am concerned that large numbers of people will be meeting together for full council and that the meeting will include people who are vulnerable to poor covid outcomes and may not yet have had their boosters.

“If the meeting is unable to proceed with fewer numbers, then consideration should be given to cancelling the meeting and conducting essential business through other means.”

Council leader Councillor Lucy Nethsingha wrote on social media yesterday: “Cambridgeshire Full Council tomorrow has been cancelled following very clear advice from our director of public health.

“This decision is necessary due to the incompetence of this Conservative government who refused to listen to Council pleas to be able to hold online meetings.”

Conservative councillor Steve Count replied: “Lack of leadership and ownership of decision.

“Don’t shift blame onto officers who discussed this fully for your opinion before the decision was made. 60 Adults, all 2meters apart, in a well ventilated hall the size of a football pitch. Playing at politics, that’s all.”

Councillor Sebastian Kindersley, the vice chair of the council, said it had been considered whether it would be possible to go ahead with the meeting, but with reduced numbers attending, however, he said they had been unable to reach the “necessary agreement”.

The county council has said that any time sensitive issues on the agenda will now be dealt with under Chief Officer’s delegated powers.

Councillors had been due to appoint the new interim Chief Executive, as well as consider a number of motions put forward by councillors.

Councillor Samantha Hoy had submitted a motion calling for the council to push for more funding and support for young people’s mental health services.

Following the announcement of the meeting’s cancellation, Cllr Hoy said the decision meant it would not now be able to be heard until February, “leaving no action on this serious issue”.