Reading’s first ever virtual meeting to make decisions on the future of the town will be held next week.

The council will hold its first public meeting since the coronavirus lockdown began on Monday, April 27.

At this historic meeting, Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Policy committee will discuss the way it is going to conduct meetings during the Covid-19 crisis.

READ MORE: Lack of PPE putting Reading health workers at coronavirus risk

Councillors will also discuss decisions that have been made by the chief executive during the meeting blackout.

Questions from members of the public and councillors will now simply be published in written form. This means members of the public will no longer be able to speak at these meetings.

Only policy, planning and licensing committees will meet during the Covid-19 crisis, which means no meetings of the following committees until further notice:

  • Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and Education Committee
  • Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee
  • Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub-Committee
  • Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee
  • Traffic Management Sub-Committee
  • Audit and Governance Committee
  • Health and Wellbeing Board
  • Personnel Committee
  • Standards Committee

Full council meetings will also be paused, with the Policy committee taking on its function.

Both the policy and planning applications committees will now meet with a reduced membership of ten councillors, down from 16 (Policy) and 14 (Planning).

There will be six Labour councillors represented, two Conservative members and one each from the Green Party and Liberal Democrats.

READ MORE: Reading allotments in short supply as one man waits 12 years

Labour will give up one seat to enable the Liberal Democrats group to be represented.

Where a nominated member cannot attend, another member of the full committee will attend in their place.

Meetings will be held on Microsoft Teams.

As well as next Monday's Policy meeting, a planning meeting is planned for next week, on Wednesday (April 29).

The council will prioritise Planning meetings to focus on the business that is most important to the pandemic response and recovery.

Other matters which are otherwise important for the economic development of the town will also come to the committee but minor and household applications which are not related to the recovery will not.

Major applications that are recommended for refusal will now be delegated to the deputy director for planning and not be voted on at meetings.

READ MORE: Family of Dr Peter Tun says Royal Berkshire Hospital doctor died because of lack of PPE

There are currently no confirmed dates for licensing sub-committee hearings.

These meetings, unlike policy and planning, will allow for members of the public to speak if they have declared an interest in advance of the meeting.

Licensing decisions will be published in writing with five working days of the meeting.