Local authorities in England have been given new powers to hold meetings, including planning committees, by video or telephone conferencing.
The government announced it had temporarily removed the legal requirement for councils to hold public meetings in person during the coronavirus outbreak.
A statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the measure would allow council staff, members and the public to stay at home but still access decision meetings.
However, many councillors across the country, including most in ‘Your Waverley’ are not happy about this move. Although, the WW understands that Waverley’s Tory contingent are eager to get on with the planning process.
The change covers all category of public meetings. It will be up to each local authority to decide how meetings should be conducted and how the public has access.
Oil and gas applications
Several applications for onshore oil and gas sites are currently going through the planning system and some were due to be decided in the coming weeks.
Surrey County Council cancelled its planning committee meeting, on 16 April 2020.
DrillOrDrop asked the county council whether this applied to planning meetings and whether planning committees would be held by video or phone. Surprise, surprise! So far -no response.
The latest information on UKOG’s oil and gas site application at Dunsfold in Surrey suggests it was due to be decided by 21 May 2020. Surely, this decision cannot be considered behind closed doors, can it?
“Virtual meetings make home working easier”
Says the local government secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: