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Virtual meeting first

Last updated 31 July 2020

With the Coronavirus crisis changing the way we interact in public and the national narrative on staying indoors and keeping our distance, technology has provided a way forward for councils to hold important meetings in a transparent manner.

At the beginning of April local authorities in England were handed new powers to hold public meetings virtually by using video or telephone conferencing technology.

The government urged local councils to use the new procedures to ensure decisions of importance to communities and the economy, including planning decisions, continue to be made.

Rather than the meetings taking place ‘behind closed doors’, or making councillors and staff to make unnecessary journeys which could mean potential risks to their health, virtual meetings allow proceedings to take place and the public to see and hear the decisions made in a transparent way.

Ashford Borough Council’s first fully virtual meeting was held on 22 April where the Planning Committee approved two applications related to Newtown Railway Works.

The meeting was one of the first in the county to be held virtually via Microsoft Teams Live Event and the public were able to access it via our website and on Youtube after the meeting had concluded.

With the first meeting held successfully further meetings are now taking place in this way – showing how technology can support local democracy and decision making to continue.