Folkestone & Hythe district councillors are returning to the Civic Centre next week for their first meeting in the council chamber for more than a year.

The pandemic forced local authorities to hold meetings virtually but now councillors are back meeting in person although with plenty of COVID-19 safety measures in place.

Councillors will sit one metre away from each other in the chamber and be encouraged to wear face masks when not speaking. They are also encouraged to take a lateral flow test before attending meetings.

Maintaining a safe social distance means that in line with current guidance six people only will be able to sit in the public area so members of the public are urged to continue to watch meetings online www.folkestone-hythe.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.

Public seats will be reserved for those speaking at or participating in a meeting (eg. planning) and any seats remaining will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Those attending should wear masks and, like councillors, members of the public are encouraged to take a lateral flow test and should not attend if the result is positive.

The first meeting back in the council chamber will be the licensing sub-committee at 10am on Thursday (20 May 2021).

Leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Cllr David Monk said: “It will be good to get back into the chamber again, although I think we have all been very pleasantly surprised at how well it has worked having meetings online.

“Debating in the council chamber is a key part of the local democratic process and I am sure I am not alone in saying that I have missed that part of being a councillor and council leader.”

More information and advice about the return to the council chamber can be found here www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/council-meetings

By Ed