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Swaffham council consider returning for face-to-face meetings over Zoom

A town council is exploring options in a bid to resume face-to-face meetings rather than via video communications.

Swaffham Town Council is considering moving its council meetings to a venue with better air circulation such as the Assembly Rooms.

This is due to poor air circulation in the council chamber, located within the town hall.

Prior to the pandemic, Swaffham Town Council usually meet in the council chamber in the town hall
Prior to the pandemic, Swaffham Town Council usually meet in the council chamber in the town hall

Town clerk Richard Bishop said: “The biggest problem in the council chamber is the air circulation. We are a local authority so we have to take these guidelines.

“Yes you may well say what about a pub but it is different advice to us compared to what it is with restaurants, pubs and tourist places.

“You have got to compare eggs with eggs. I do not know of any face-to-face meetings which are taking place around the county at this time. Breckland Council have already identified December as a possible first date to go back into their arena.”

Mr Bishop added that if the council chamber’s extractor fans were turned on then people would struggle to hear themselves speak.

He suggested a professional may need to look at a technical system due to the poor circulation in the chamber.

The furniture in the council chamber dates back to 1953 so Mr Bishop suggested new furniture potentially creating more space for social distancing. It was agreed that the Assembly Rooms would provide plenty of room for councillors and the public to be safely spread out.

Councillor Graham Edwards said the council should be doing everything it can to ensure face-to-face meetings resume, whether that means opening the windows, moving location or installing a better sound system in the Assembly Rooms.

Councillor Wendy Bensley said the face-to-face meetings should resume in place of Zoom meetings if people wear masks or visors, and if a proper air filtration system is in place.

But councillors Paul Darby and Judy Anscombe raised doubts over face-to-face meetings returning due to the coronavirus situation.

Mr Darby said: “I do not think it is right yet. The numbers are going up so I am not sure if this is the right time.”

Mrs Anscombe added: “I would love to get back to face-to-face meetings but there is one word against that idea, which is safety. I do not particularly want to die of Covid.”

“That says it all,” mayor Jill Skinner responded.

The council agreed to continue on Zoom for the meantime but to consider other options.

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