Published: 06:00, 13 July 2020
Keeping track of nearly 50 councillors plus officers during high profile video meetings would be challenge to most.
But veteran councillor Ken Ingleton from Sheppey takes it all in his stride.
While many men of his age - he's 76 - prefer to sit back in their slippers watching TV, Swale's mayor has mastered the mysteries of Zoom and Skype.
During the last stormy meeting of the full council, which seemed to outsiders to be akin to trying to herd cats, he even managed to keep everyone in check.
He admitted: "It was tricky at times because there were 60 people on line, including members of the public. And because of the restricted bandwidth I couldn't see any of their faces, just photos.
"The only way I knew they wanted to speak was when they started speaking!"
The meeting also turned into a four-hour marathon because most councillors needed five seconds to un-mute themselves before talking. All those seconds soon added up.
He explained: "I've chaired a lot of meetings over the years but when its face-to-face you can judge the atmosphere and anticipate who wants to speak. This was all very different."
Cllr Ingleton, who also chairs Minster parish council, added: "People are amazed I can handle all this hi-tech stuff but I've always been interested in IT. I have a cupboard full of old computers.
"I first started using them in 1971 when I ran a building company. We had an Olivetti 5 to organise all the work. It was like a large electric organ but used magnetic cards to print out invoices.
"I went through Amstrads in the 1980s with floppy disks and now have a Hewlett Packard desktop in my home office which has two screens so I can watch the video chats on one and follow the agenda on the other."
He also has external drives where he keeps more than 30,000 digitised photographs of old Sheppey plus 50 PowerPoint history talks. And just in case there's power cut, he has a library downstairs where new-tec makes way for shelves of old-fashioned reference books.
His home in Minster, which he shares with his wife Mick , is so steeped in history that writer Charles Dickens once visited it in the mid-1800s.
If he'd been around now he might have written The Pickwick e-Papers, Giga Expectations, Hard-drive Times and ended up with characters like Mac-witch the convict and Bill Skype.
Brown Paper Packages
During the last full meeting of Swale council there was a heated debate where Tory leader Cllr Alan Horton suggested the cabinet and Prince Charles' Duchy of Cornwall were doing secret 'brown paper packages' deals behind closed doors. He later apologised for his outburst.
Cllr Ingleton (Con, Minster Cliffs) chaired the clash.
He said afterwards: "In the 40-odd years I've been a councillor I have obviously heard of innuendos of brown paper envelopes. But I've never seen any evidence of it. I've not even been offered so much as a drink!"
Cllr Ingleton's final task as mayor will be to host Swale council's annual meeting this Wednesday, July 15, at 7pm once again using Skype. He will hand over the chains of office to Cllr Paul Stephen (Swale Independents Alliance, Woodstock). Deputy mayor Cllr Roger Clark (Con, Bobbing, Iwade and Lower Halstow) will hand over the reins to Cllr Benjamin Martin (Lib Dem, Priory).
Members of the public are welcome to join the meeting. For details call Swale'sdemocratic services department on 01795 417360. The agenda is here.
More by this authorJohn Nurden
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