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Wolverhampton Council to pilot paper-free meetings

By Joe Sweeney | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Moves to switch to paper-free meetings will be considered by Wolverhampton Council in a bid to save around £10,000 a year.

Wolverhampton Council

The authority declared a climate change emergency in July this year and said the benefits of paperless meetings would be that it reduced their carbon footprint.

Officials also highlighted it as being environmentally responsible.

The council significantly reduced its own paper usage in 2014 by adopting the Modern.Gov application for paperless documents.

At present, only 36 out of 60 councillors request paper copies – which are also supplied to political assistants and council support workers.

In a report to the council's governance committee, democratic services manager Jaswinder Kaur, said: "In light of ongoing financial pressures, the council is continuing to look at identifying ways of doing more with less.

"Part of this is through the implementation of smarter ways of working in a digital age.

“A number of councils have completed the transition to paperless meetings in recent years – so much so that over the course of the next few years it is expected to become standard practice in local government.

“As a council, we are increasingly encouraging residents to access our services electronically as much as possible. And the move to paperless meetings provides our councillors with an opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate they are prepared to embrace new forms of technology.

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"By removing the need to print, envelope and process hard copies of agenda papers ready to be posted out, we will have a more efficient use of administration time which can then be used for support in other areas."

In using the Modern.Gov app, Wolverhampton councillors are able to access meeting papers from any place, at any time to suit their own personal commitments.

Ms Kaur said the council recognised that some members would adapt quicker than others to the proposed transition to paperless meetings, and that all the necessary support required to assist them would be provided.

Following discussion, the committee agreed to undertake a pilot of paperless meetings and, subject to its success, to extend this approach to all council and committee meetings on a phased basis.

Members agreed that there should be some flexibility for finance papers and appendices, as many of these reports were heavily detailed.

It was also decided that consideration would be given to stopping the posting of any committee papers to councillors, regardless of the success of the pilot scheme.

Joe Sweeney

By Joe Sweeney
@JoeSweeneyLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Wolverhampton.

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