First “virtual” borough council meeting in Milton Keynes will be broadcast live on YouTube

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The democratic process in Milton Keynes is being kick started back into life next week with the first virtual meeting at the borough council.

It will be a gathering of the council’s development control committee on Thursday (April 23), and will be broadcast live on YouTube after its chairman told officers that the decision making process must continue if at all possible.

Councils, including Milton Keynes Council, and the city’s network of 48 parishes have been given the authority to hold meetings virtually.

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Cllr John Bint (Cons, Broughton) said: “It is important that the democratic development control process should go ahead if it is safe to do so. Developers are looking to us to make decisions, and residents want their objections to be heard.”

The chamber at Milton Keynes CouncilThe chamber at Milton Keynes Council
The chamber at Milton Keynes Council

Cllr Bint said council officers were able to make delegated decisions under the council’s rules, but this was not appropriate in all circumstances.

Most scheduled meetings have been cancelled because of the Government’s advice on non-essential travel and gatherings.

Only meetings of the full council, development control, licensing, and weekly delegated decisions will be going ahead.

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The last meeting open to the public was held on April 7, when council leader Pete Marland decided how the council would handle council tax reductions for residents hit by the lockdown. There were no members of the public present.

Before then a meeting of the full council was held on March 18 with barely a quorum of elected members present. They were sitting well apart from each other, watched by a sparsely attended public gallery.

Even though the councillors will be making planning decisions under the watchful eyes of the public live on YouTube, most people will not be able to physically attend to observe.

Speakers who are registered or entitled to speak, and who cannot make their submissions in writing or a pre-recorded message will be able to be there.

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For those speaking and only able to attend in person, there will be strict social distancing measures in place in the council chamber.

Rules for submitting requests to be heard by the deadline of Monday (April 20) are included on the meeting agenda papers on the council’s website broadcast will take place from 7pm next Thursday on the council’s YouTube channel will be asked to decide on items including the confirmation of a tree preservation order in Old Farm Park, the rebuilding of a barn in Olney, and a house extension in Kents Hill.