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The councilor apologizes after being caught smoking during the virtual committee meeting

A councilor apologized for smoking in the room during a virtual board meeting.

Liberal Democrat Barbara Ashwood was taking part in the communities of the Cambridgeshire County Council and the partnership committee via video link from her home on July 2 when the accident occurred.

The video is publicly available when the virtual meeting was streamed live online, as all public council meetings have been since the government approved legislation to allow it during the pandemic.

A conservative councilor, Lina Nieto, drew attention to the smoking adviser by posting a screenshot on Twitter and commenting that Cllr Ashwood “was smoking on the committee”.



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The incident sparked criticism from the head of the county council, the conservative Steve Count, who said on Twitter: “I can’t believe what I see. We have responsibility for public health! “

He tagged the group of liberal Democrats in South Cambridgeshire and said “inappropriate behavior of the councilor when dealing with council affairs”.



All advisers can be seen on the screen during the virtual meeting. This screen was loaded after an adviser was spotted smoking in the bottom row

He added: “We organize huge campaigns to help people quit smoking. Cllr Ashwood is in official service. This is a problem for me.”

Cllr Ashwood told the local democracy reporting service: “I apologized and Steve accepted that apology.”

The online reaction to the accident was mixed.

Amanda Taylor, Lib Dem’s adviser, tweeted: “Counting distracts us from real issues. Barbara had just done an excellent job at the commission claiming that the library staff had been moved to an isolated industrial park with no public transport links. I think he deserved a cigarette in his house without affecting anyone else. “



Councilor Barbara Ashwood was attending a virtual council meeting when another councilor noticed her smoking

At the time, the committee was deciding on plans to move the library service distribution center from Ascham Road in Cambridge to St Ives’ Lakes Business Park.

Cllr Ashwood, who has worked for the library service for 49 years, had argued that the move could force people to quit their jobs.

The committee chairman, conservative adviser Steve Criswell, had defended the decision and said he hoped to avoid staff leaving the service.

The county council has allocated over £ 700,000 for its work on smoking reduction in the county last year.

The county council banned smoking from its locations in 2014 and regularly participates in anti-smoking campaigns.

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