Can I participate in municipal life during confinement? It depends on the county where you live

There are good examples of openness to civic participation in the Algarve

Covid-19 arrived in Europe a year ago, brought changes in many areas of society and local politics is no exception. But what has changed? To what extent can I continue to participate in municipal life as a citizen? Can I go to Council meetings or to the Municipal Assembly in my municipality? In some cases yes, in others no, and there are also councils that allow remote participation.

O Sul Informação he visited the 16 websites of the Algarve's Municipal Councils – and the only two municipal assemblies with a website (Lagoa and Lagos) – and found good examples that facilitate civic participation during confinement, but he also encountered a lack of information in other municipalities.

Em Aljezur, consulting the last call for the Municipal Assembly, which took place last Friday, the meeting was in person, and without the presence of the public, "for reasons of public health and safety". However, at the last session of 2020, in December, it was still possible to attend the meeting, with a limit of 5 seats.

With regard to Chamber meetings, there is no reference to possible public participation, but the minutes are published on the website.

In the neighboring county of Vila do Bispo, Chamber meetings continue to be in person and the website reads that «all Chamber meetings are public». There is no reference to banning or limiting audiences.

With regard to the Municipal Assembly, in the call for the meeting on 25 November, the notice specified the ban on public, and questions could be sent to the e-mail assembly@cm-viladobispo.pt. However, in the notice for the first meeting of 2021, last Wednesday, February 24, no ban on public presence was mentioned.

Em Monchique, the Chamber meetings have been held by videoconference, without public. Even so, questions can be sent in advance to the email Presidente@cm-monchique.pt.

The meetings of the Municipal Assembly are also held by videoconference, broadcast live on the Youtube. Questions from the public must be sent in advance to assembly.municipal@cm-monchique.pt.

Returning to the coast, in Lagos, on the City Council website, there is no reference to the presence of the public at City Council meetings, or to asking questions. Taking into account the minutes, the meetings continue to take place in person.

The Municipal Assembly of Lagos, one of the two which has its own website on the internet, continues to hold its sessions in person, but without an audience. Still, the works are broadcast on the Youtube and Municipal Assembly Facebook. The public can send questions, in advance, to amlagos@mail.telepac.pt.

Em Portimão, Chamber meetings are held by videoconference and, on the website, it is not possible to find information on how to participate.

Also the meetings of the Municipal Assembly are held remotely. Questions from the public are allowed and must be sent in advance to amp@cm-portimao.pt. The audio recording of the citizens' intervention period is later made available on the Chamber's website.

However, in the municipality of Portimo, this is even a topic on the table, and the PSD took, last Friday, a motion to vote in the Municipal Assembly, so that the sessions will be broadcast live.

Em Lagoa, according to the agendas of the Chamber meetings, available on the Municipality's website, they continue to take place in person and there is no reference to limitations on the presence of the public.

The Municipal Assembly of Lagoa has its own portal on the internet and conducts its sessions by videoconference, with the meetings being broadcast on the Youtube. Citizens interested in participating can pre-register by e-mail presidencia@am-lagoa.pt.

Em Silves, on the City Council website, when consulted by Sul Informação, editais and minutes were not accessible. However, in the section for the scheduling of meetings, there is no reference to the limitation of audience: «the Chamber meetings are held every fortnight, on Mondays, at 9:30 am, in the Executive's meeting office in Paços do Concelho. The first meeting of the month is public».

The Municipal Assembly meetings are held in person at Fissul – where there is a limit of 30 people in the room – and simultaneously by videoconference. Sessions are broadcast on the page of Facebook of the Municipality of Silves. If the public has questions, they must send them in advance, by email, to Assembleia.municipal@cm-silves.pt.

Em Albufeira, Chamber meetings continue to be in person. In the case of public meetings, citizens interested in participating must fill in a form that is available together with the agenda.

On the other hand, the sessions of the Municipal Assembly of Albufeira are held without public and are broadcast on the YouTube. The public may send questions in advance to the e-mail assembly.municipal@cm-albufeira.pt, which will be answered at the meeting.

In the neighboring county of Loulé, with the pandemic, the Chamber meetings became by videoconference and are private. The sessions of the Municipal Assembly of the largest municipality in the Algarve are currently held by videoconference, and are broadcast on the Youtube. Registration for public participation can be made in advance to aml@cm-loule.pt.

In the Algarve capital, in Faro, Chamber meetings also started to be held by videoconference and there are no indications on the agendas about possible participation in public meetings.

However, the Municipal Assembly continues to be present, at Teatro das Figuras, but transmitted on YouTube, live. Public presence is allowed, but prior registration is required by calling 289870866 or by email am@cm-faro.pt.

Em Olhão, with regard to Chamber meetings, there is no specific information on any restrictions. There is also no area dedicated to the notices of executive meetings and the area dedicated to minutes has not been updated since 2019. According to the general regulation, the meetings are held on Wednesdays, at 9:30 am, in Paços do Concelho.

The Municipal Assembly, on the other hand, takes place by videoconference, without public and without mentioning the possibility of participation. In the notices, it is stated that the "full audio/video recording" of the session is available on the Municipality's website, but the last recording available is from June 2020.

Em São Brás de Alportel, Chamber meetings are held by videoconference, without the presence of an audience. Even so, questions may be sent to the executive in advance via the e-mail ema.pinto@cm-sbras.pt.

It is also through email (assembleia.municipal@cm-sbras.pt) that questions can be sent to be discussed at the Municipal Assembly, which started to be held by videoconference this year – in December there was a face-to-face meeting, with limited places.

Tavira it is one of the councils with the greatest openness to the participation of citizens in Council meetings, which are held by videoconference on the Zoom platform and are later made available on the Municipality's website. Those interested in asking questions can register in advance and receive, on the day of the meeting, the access credential.

The Municipal Assembly of Tavira is also via videoconference and broadcast on the Municipality Facebook. Citizens' participation is open by sending questions, in advance, to assembly.municipal@cm-tavira.pt.

Castro Marim was a pioneer in recording Chamber meetings in the Algarve, long before the pandemic. The meetings, now by videoconference, are recorded and placed later in the YouTube. However, in the calls, there is no reference to public participation.

The meetings of the Municipal Assembly continue to take place in person, in the Auditorium of the Municipal Library, but without public participation. According to the call for the February 27 meeting, citizens can send questions in advance to secretariado@cm-castromarim.pt. The recording of the session is then also available on Youtube.

Em Alcoutim, Chamber meetings are now held by videoconference, and the public can participate by pre-registering by email publico.rcm@cm-alcoutim.pt.

The Municipal Assembly, on the other hand, continues to take place in the Guadiana Space, without any reference to public participation in the notices.

Ending the "trip" in Vila Real de Santo António, the Chamber meetings continue to be in person and, on the website, there is no information about the possible participation of the public. Even so, on the municipality's page, a recording of the meeting is published in podcast.

The meetings of the Municipal Assembly, on the other hand, continue to be in person, at the António Aleixo Cultural Centre, and have no reference to the participation, or not, of the public. Still, as with the Chamber meetings, the recordings are also made available on the Municipality's website.

 

 

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