Fenland District Council to start holding virtual public meetings during coronavirus lockdown using Zoom

Fenland District Council will start holding virtual council meetings, starting with Planning Committ

Fenland District Council will start holding virtual council meetings, starting with Planning Committee next week. - Credit: Archant

Fenland District Council will begin holding its public meetings online next week, starting with the Planning Committee next Wednesday (May 6).

Local authorities are usually required to hold public meetings in person, but the Government has granted new powers that allow them to be held using video conferencing.

The Planning Committee will use the video conferencing app Zoom, which also allows members of the public to make representations where necessary.

The meeting will be at 1pm on Wednesday, May 6, and will also be broadcast via the Council’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/FenlandCouncil.

Anyone wishing to speak about a planning application must register by emailing memberservices@fenland.gov.uk by 12noon the day before the meeting.

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To keep the length of these meetings reasonable, the Planning Committee will also meet on May 7, 13 and 20.

Meanwhile, a virtual Cabinet meeting will take place at 2pm on Tuesday, May 12.

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Cllr Chris Boden, the council’s leader, said: “The ongoing coronavirus crisis has led to a great deal of change for all of us in the way we live and work.

“As a Council we have been keen to resume public meetings to ensure we, as elected members, can continue to represent our residents as best we can.”

He added: “Embracing digital technology will help us to maintain local democracy and allow key decisions to be made while remaining open, transparent and accessible to the public.”

Internal meetings between Fenland’s officers and councillors are already being held remotely in light of social distancing requirements in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Dee Laws, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, added: “The Council has still been receiving a number of planning applications in recent weeks.

“In order to process these as effectively and efficiently as possible, we needed to ensure that the online meeting platform we used could be accessed by the public, show presentations and planning documents, enable councillors to declare interests and record votes and meets the national legal requirements for public meetings.

“It has been a challenge but we’re ready for the first in series of virtual Planning Committee meetings to begin next week.”

Further information is available on the Fenland District Council website.

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