Coventry City Council’s Annual General Meeting will once again take on a different look this year to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The meeting is normally held at the Cathedral, and includes a traditional procession and ceremony that sees the outgoing Lord Mayor hand over the chains of office to their successor.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a form of the event was last year held virtually but although this year’s AGM will be face-to-face, it will need to follow current national guidelines such as social distancing. It means this year’s meeting, at Coventry Cathedral on Thursday 20 May, will be limited to essential business only and attendance will be restricted to councillors and key officers.
A full Mayoral ceremony is hoped to be held in September instead to officially welcome the new Lord Mayor Cllr John McNicholas and the new Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Kevin Maton.
It will also be a chance to pay tribute to the work of Cllr Ann Lucas, Lord Mayor of the City for 2020/21, as well as Lord Mayor for 2019/20 Cllr Linda Bigham, as last year’s ceremony was also affected by the pandemic.
Any local authority that has held an election is required by law to hold an AGM within 21 days of the 6 May polling day. As well as appointing the new Lord Mayor to be Chair of the Council and preside over Full Council meetings, it sees the appointment of the Leader of the Council, sets the calendar of meetings for the year, and appoints representatives of the city to various organisations.
Coventry City Council Leader, Cllr George Duggins, said: “The AGM is a very important part of the Council’s year and allows us to carry on with the essential business of running services for the people of the city in a fair and democratic way and keep Coventry moving forward.
“Unfortunately, this year, as last year, we have to adapt to ensure we are following COVID-19 safety guidelines and so a large part of our traditional AGM will be lost.
“However, we plan to hold a full ceremony at the Cathedral in September, guidelines permitting, that will give us the chance to formally welcome our new Lord Mayor, and thank our previous two Lord Mayors who have served the city so well in such difficult times.
“This is a very important time for Coventry as we take on our role as UK City of Culture and emerge from the lockdowns and restrictions of the past 14 months and I and all my colleagues at the Council are keen to continue the fantastic work that has already taken place to build an even better city.
“We must not permit that work to be delayed, but when restrictions allow we will take time to follow tradition, look back at what has been achieved and thank those who have done so much.”
Cllr John McNicholas, Lord Mayor-elect of Coventry, said: “All councillors are looking forward to helping our city recover from the hardships of the past year and to celebrate its role as UK City of Culture.
“COVID has forced us all to delay many plans, but it is important we continue to keep everyone safe and follow all guidelines until the pandemic is beaten.
“I’d like to thank Cllr Lucas for her work as Lord Mayor over the last year during an exceptionally difficult time, and congratulations to Cllr Kevin Maton, who is about to become the new Deputy Lord Mayor – I know he will serve our city well.”
The meeting will be held at 11am and will be broadcast live via the Council’s website.