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Council harnesses virtual technology to resume the democratic process


Thursday, 7 May, 2020

New legislation and government regulations allows Woking Borough Council to resume its calendar of council and committee meetings via video conferencing technology.

The first Woking Borough Council ‘virtual’ meeting, hosted via Zoom, will be the Planning Committee taking place on Tuesday 12 May at 7pm. Members of the public will be able to watch the meeting live, or on demand after the meeting has taken place, via the usual webcasting function available on the council’s website.

The calendar of meetings previously published for 2020 to 2021, with the exception of the Annual General Meetings scheduled for 21 May 2020 and 1 June 2020, will take place as scheduled.

Public participation at the meetings will be limited to people who have been invited and with a registered interest in the meeting, such as planning applicants and providers of professional services to support agenda items. Once the invited contributor has finished speaking at the meeting their Zoom connection will end and they can resume watching the remainder of the meeting via the council’s webcasting facility.

Speaking about the new arrangements, Cllr David Bittleston, Leader of Woking Borough Council said: “I’m pleased to announce that we are in a position to reconvene formal council meetings. A lot of hard work has taken place behind the scenes to set up virtual meetings. We have hosted mock meetings to test the technology and the ability of councillors and invited participants to interact from home.

“The new regulations have enabled council officers to set up new, agile working practices which support the democratic process and continue our efforts to deliver the everyday and revised services affected by the current Coronavirus pandemic.”

The management of the new virtual meetings will be maintained by the council’s member services officers who will:

  • take minutes of the meetings
  • operate the technologies required to deliver the meetings
  • maintain a meeting register including: elected members taking part in the meeting, other Members, council officers and members of the public invited to the attend the meeting
  • manage and record any voting processes undertaken as part of the meeting’s agenda items.

Meeting agenda packs and supporting documents will continue to be published in the usual manner on the council's website.

Elected members and the Mayor

The new enacted Coronavirus Act 2020 also provides revisions to a range of local government procedures and activities, including the deferment of local elections until May 2021.

This means that all existing elected member (councillor) appointments will remain in place until the next election, including political membership and roles of the Borough’s Executive, committees, task groups and working groups, as well as all appointments to external bodies.

The deferment of democratic roles and associated responsibilities also means that the current Mayor, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, and Deputy Mayor, Cllr Saj Hussain, will remain in office for another municipal year.

Read more about the council's virtual meeting arrangements

Watch council meetings online