THE public will be readmitted to Derwent Valley Council meetings starting with the monthly meeting for January, mayor Ben Shaw said in a video message on Facebook today (pictured). The council has been meeting behind closed doors since coronavirus public health restrictions were introduced last March.
“Due to COVID restrictions we’ve had our council meetings closed to the public, just due to social distancing and the maximum capacity numbers of people in one room,” Councillor Shaw said. “We’ve now decided that as of our January meeting we will be having members of the public back into our council meetings.
“We will be hosting them in the tea rooms just behind the courthouse in the council chambers, so that should please a few people. We will have that advertised on our Facebook page and in the print media as well. We’re looking forward to seeing people again,” Cr Shaw said.
Last year saw the council’s March meeting transferred from the usual venue in the New Norfolk Courthouse into the much larger War Memorial Hall to comply with the rapidly-changing public health restrictions of the time. While some councils adopted live-streaming of their meetings during the coronavirus lockdown, the Derwent Valley Council opted to post a video recording onto its website, several days after each meeting took place.
State Parliament heard last month that the council was one of a minority still meeting behind closed doors. The council ceased video-recording its meetings several months ago and reverted to posting audio recordings instead.
In an editorial comment in its January print edition, New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News pointed out that the council had a range of suitable venues available to it and called on the council to reopen its meetings to the public.
Without explanation, the council has moved its meetings from the third Thursday of the month to the fourth Thursday. This month’s will be held on January 28, and the February meeting and 2019-20 annual general meeting will be held on February 25.