Harrow Council held its first virtual cabinet meeting, but the borough’s Conservative Group criticised technical issues that led to a 40-minute delay.

Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Conservatives, described it as a “shambles” and said the administration should take his group’s advice on video conferencing products.

He said it had repeatedly urged the council to use Zoom as opposed to Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings but was consistently rebuffed.

This, he suggested, was indicative of the Labour Group’s inability to work productively with their colleagues from the other side of the chamber.

“Unfortunately, some of the constructive suggestions we’ve made aren’t always listened to,” he said.

“We tried to set up a meeting on this to show there were real problems [with Teams] and that training was needed.”

He was supported by Cllr Marilyn Ashton, deputy leader of Harrow Conservatives, who had connection issues and noted the council’s chief executive, Sean Harriss, encountered similar problems.

She also suggested the council’s overall approach to using technology to carry out meetings has been “a bit slow” when compared with other London boroughs.

But Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council, defended his administration’s response to the crisis and the use of Teams.

He explained it was the “smoothest” and most cost-effective option since it was already set up on the council’s system and believes it is best placed to “keep our details safe”.

“We are trying to do lot of things done in a short amount of time and we’ve had to prioritise,” he said.

“Eight weeks ago we were sitting in committee rooms and we’ve had to move everything online.

“We’re excited to be using the latest software to host meetings. It comes as no additional cost to us or the taxpayer and will become increasingly familiar and easier to use.

“This is a learning curve and hopefully the way we hold meetings will improve over a period of time.”

He added the planning meeting held on Wednesday (May 20) – the council’s first ever virtual meeting – went “exceptionally well” with no serious hiccups.