Virtual Hearings Could Become the Norm
Argyll and Bute votes to continue holding virtual hearings during Covid-19 pandemic.
14:47 25 August 2020
Public hearings are set to become the norm in Argyll and Bute until the Covid-19 pandemic crisis blows over.
Members of the council's planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee have voted to continue holding virtual hearings to adhere with the social distancing protocols currently in place.
The committee, which is used to hearing significant planning applications in public, was warned that public attendance during hearings could run to at least 43 people, including officers and councillors. This presents a problem as many venues remain closed.
Following the decision, the council has announced that they will discuss two pending applications - one for a distillery in Port Ellen and one for a waste waterworks treatment on the Isle of Seil - via video link or virtually.
Councillor Rory Colville called for unity and to resume the hearings as soon as possible. He said: "Let's stop arguing and accept the conclusions and get virtual meetings ASAP, as I have not heard anybody saying when we will get back to normal."
Councillor Lorna Douglas, who supports virtual meetings, said: "Every action we take has to be a responsible one, and how we are seen to behave and what signals we give out are vital. I would not be happy meeting in a hall. I am not risk-averse - in fact, I am saying this as a teacher - but I really don't think it would be the right thing for us to do."