Council meetings at Reigate & Banstead Borough Council are being run online so that the democratic process can continue despite coronavirus social distancing measures.
The Government introduced emergency rules in April removing the requirement for councils to hold public meetings in person.
On Wednesday 15 April the borough council held what it believes to have been the first virtual planning committee to take place in Surrey.
Using the WebEx video conferencing tool, familiar to many people working from home, councillors were able to joint the meeting online.
Planning officers were able to present their reports and use the technology to share slides and videos. Councillors then voted via an electronic poll with the results available to view on their screens.
Twenty six members of the public, including residents, developers and planning consultants were able to listen and participate in the meeting.
A video of the meeting, along with subsequent ones, is available on the council’s website, along with videos of previous meetings from the council’s normal webcast service.
Cllr Mark Brunt, council leader, said last week: “We’re adapting as quickly as we can in response to the challenges posed by the coronavirus restrictions and new legislation, to try to ensure that the democratic process and business of the council can continue.
“It’s great to be one of the first to be able to achieve this despite the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in.”
In early April the council announced the cancellation or postponement of a number of meetings, but some of these are now set to go ahead virtually – including the full annual council meeting on 28 May.