Wirral Council’s Planning Committee suspends meetings and rules due to COVID-19
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The mood at Wallasey Town Hall was very different – with the One Stop Shop closed (with a sign that directed people to the one in Birkenhead) and even if this was taken into account there were far fewer people around than usual. Due to the need for social distancing measures, as on Monday evening the public meeting was in the Council Chamber (instead of Committee Room 1), which could have been the reason why the Council webcast didn’t go ahead as planned (which put a bit more pressure on myself – video of the entire meeting is above).
The lift to the public gallery (which is on the second floor above the Council Chamber) still wasn’t working (I was informed it’s out of action for maintenance on the waterproofing) and the guest wifi isn’t working either. Wallasey Town Hall was used in the past as a military hospital – as a Category 1 Responder Wirral Council is now part of the response – most of the public meeting was about how the Planning Committee would continue decision making without any formal meetings.
This will be my last report on a Wirral Council Planning Committee meeting for a while – all public meetings of councillors and others at Wirral Council (as well as wider local government such as combined authority, fire and rescue authority etc) in the near future starting next week (week starting 23rd March 2020) are cancelled. The next public meeting of Wirral Council scheduled to meet (provisionally) is on the 15th April 2020 (the other side of Easter holidays). Local democracy will continue – just in a different way and at the risk of repeating what I’ve previously reported the May 2020 elections have been postponed to May 2021.
Some councillors were vocal about their unease at agreeing to delegate their decision-making on planning applications, planning enforcement and compensation etc to a Wirral Council employee to make. There was mention of the need for meetings to take place virtually – legislation is awaited on points like this.
However the report (at the time of publication not published on Wirral Council’s website) is included below (councillors didn’t agree parts (iv) and (v) of the proposed recommendation). It impacts anyone involved with current as yet undecided planning applications or ones from now onward.
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