Royal Borough council agrees to split in-person and virtual meetings

The council has agreed to split virtual and in-person meetings until the end of the municipal year in April.

The decision was made at full council on Tuesday where members discussed the pros and cons of both Zoom-powered meetings and those held physically.

During the pandemic, legislation was passed to allow councils to hold all meetings online but this was controversially scrapped when restrictions eased in July.

Now, all decision-making meetings must be held in-person, with non decision-making meetings, such as scrutiny panels, able to still take place virtually.

A recommendation to split the two was put forward by Councillor Samantha Rayner (Con, Eton and Castle) and seconded by Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams).

This was later agreed by councillors when the paper went to a vote.

Opposition councillor Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) said that he had ‘seen the benefits’ of virtual meetings, which he added had decreased the amount of car journeys taken.

But he urged the council to ‘continue to lobby the Government’ over its decision to not hold decision-making meetings online.

He also lamented the poor sound quality reported by some residents when watching online meetings, adding that council officers have ‘not been given the tools’ to fix this.

Cllr Johnson called the recommendation ‘positive’, adding that it was right for the council to move back to some face-to-face meetings as the borough’s businesses gradually do the same.

A packed agenda at Tuesday's meeting also heard details on the Royal Borough's climate emergency and plans to improve active travel along the 'busy and narrow' Harvest Hill Road in Maidenhead. Read more on all of this here

There was also discussion on the potential return of residents discount parking in the borough, as well as what would happen if full council was to reject the long-awaited Borough Local Plan when it eventually arrives for a vote. Click here to read more. 

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