Technology helps council to conduct planning meeting

Mid Suffolk District Council today Tuesday, April 28, held its first planning meeting using virtual technology – allowing public meetings to continue safely despite the lockdown.

The Mid Suffolk Development Control Committee B meeting, conducted via Skype, allowed councillors and officers to openly discuss and vote on applications in Great Finborough and Buxhall, with members of the public able to listen to the meeting’s livestream.

The historic session was chaired by councillor Kathie Guthrie, who welcomed the technological solution to democracy during lockdown and thanked everyone involved in staging and participating in the session.

Councillor Guthrie said: “The safety of our communities is a priority, as is the need for effective and accessible democracy.  Chairing our first remote committee meeting was a unique occasion and I would formally like to thank everyone involved, including those working in the background before and during this meeting.

“Our role as committee members is to reach decisions through in depth assessment of each application by reading the papers, listening to planning officers, parish councils, objectors and supporters, applicants and then debate.   

“Despite this new way of running the meeting and a temporary power cut in Needham Market, with a few IT issues with visitors joining, I believe the majority of members had the appropriate input to help us reach a decision. I would also like to thank all the members of committee who played their part under very difficult new circumstances.”

The next virtual meeting will be the Babergh Planning Committee at 9.30am on Thursday, April 30.

Future meetings to be held virtually, until government restrictions are lifted, include:

  • Babergh Cabinet
  • Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee,
  • Babergh District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee
  • Mid Suffolk District Cabinet
  • Mid Suffolk District Council’s Development Control Committee B,
  • Mid Suffolk District Overview and Scrutiny Committee
  • Babergh and Mid Suffolk District councils Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
  • Licensing and Regulatory hearing, as required.

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