Horsham District Council will use Capitol theatre as virtual meetings end

Horsham District Council will have to hold full council meetings at the Capitol after a High Court ruling signalled the end of online meetings from May 7.

When the pandemic hit, the government introduced temporary legislation to allow local authority meetings to be held online, in line with social distancing regulations.

But the decision not to keep those rules in place until the pandemic ends, means councils all over the country will have to find ways to continue their meetings in public while also keeping councillors, staff and the public safe.

A spokesman said the council had been preparing for the return to in-person meetings, with arrangements designed by the health and safety officer.

They added: “The council will continue to hold meetings in whichever way the government requires.

“After May 7, until the ending of restrictions, the council will hold most of its statutory meetings in the council offices at Parkside.

“Because the maximum number of people socially distanced in a room at Parkside is 30, we will hold the full council meetings in the Capitol Theatre.”

The spokesman said the number of people who had spoken during meetings had increased as members of the public had been able to have their say via video – something which will continue until full meetings are allowed again.

For a long time now, the council has audiocast its meetings – but the ability to watch via YouTube saw many more people tune in to the goings-on of the various committees.

The spokesman said between 100 and 200 people have been watching planning committee meetings while fewer than 100 watch others – though a recent overview and scrutiny meeting attracted 114 viewers.