Croydon Council will hold its first virtual planning committee tonight (Thursday) after the government passed laws allowing local authorities to specially arrange public meetings during COVID-19.
Croydon Council had to cancel or reschedule committees including cabinet and planning after the government and Public Health England introduced social distancing restrictions nationwide to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The government has since passed regulations under the Coronavirus Act which allow council meetings to restart, with councillors contributing online using live broadcast from their homes.
From 6pm on Thursday 23 April, Croydon Council is holding its first virtual planning committee with its cross-party group of councillors.
The agenda can be viewed on the council website and the meeting can be viewed via the following link: https://bit.ly/3cJCaCz
Members of the public, objectors and applicants will be able to view and hear the committee live as usual, but for the time being there are no speaking slots. Instead, applicants and objectors who have registered in advance to speak will have a written contribution read aloud by the committee clerk. The process for ward councillors to address the committee remains unchanged.
The council is looking into how technology can be adapted for future meetings to enable appropriate live input that can be monitored and kept to time in the same way as in face-to-face committees.
Under a cross-party agreement, the planning committee will have the same proportion of councillors, but five committee members will sit instead of the usual 10. The committee meeting will include a proposal for Councillor Chris Clark to succeed Councillor Toni Letts as chair.
“Croydon’s long-term recovery from COVID-19 is about restoring the health of our residents and improving our local economy.
“If I become the planning committee’s chair I will work with colleagues to ensure that we get the right mix of infrastructure to support our borough’s future growth while protecting Croydon’s unique character.”
Councillor Chris Clark, proposed next chair of the planning committee
Councillor Paul Scott, cabinet lead for planning and regeneration, said: “The government has made clear that important council business needs to continue in spite of COVID-19, and that includes democratic meetings in public in Croydon – starting with this planning committee.
“I hope people will bear with us because virtual committee meetings are new to lots of councils, including Croydon, but we are making this as accessible and user-friendly as possible for local residents with the technology available. As usual, anyone who cannot view the meeting live can still watch a webcast recording on our website from the next day.”
The council plans to hold other virtual committees over the coming weeks, including planning, cabinet and licensing meetings. Updates on committees, their dates and times will be published as they become available on the council’s meetings page.