SSDC apologise for Planning Inquiry
In the November edition of The Leveller we reported on the Planning Inquiry into a development in Castle Cary. It was supposed to run from 9-11th November. It was held at Castle Cary Town Hall. We expected that it would have been concluded by the time our November issue hit the streets.
The reality was very different. Day 1 started with a 40 minute delay as the microphone was in a locked cupboard and the key could not be found. The sound quality throughout was poor to the point of being indecipherable in places. By the 10 November the Inspector abandoned the process and new arrangements will have to be made. The Leveller® understands the Inspector would like to start again on 24 November.
South Somerset District Council who organised the meeting have apologised. They told us “we would also want to apologise to all parties involved for our role in the event not running smoothly. We will learn from what went wrong with this hybrid meeting to ensure future events run in this way, which may become more common, do not experience the same issues.“
The initial plans were to hold the meeting in Castle Cary Town Hall. With CVID restrictions in place, that meant a limitation on numbers – all for good reason. Unfortunately they significantly underestimated the interest and numbers of people turning out to speak. So residents were asked to go home and dial in via Zoom to speak, or YouTube to follow the event.
When the Inspector suggested things be stopped and adjourned, both the applicant and SSDC agreed.
SSDC are usually very good at recording live meetings and presenting them on YouTube. This time it all fell apart. The nub of the problem appears to have been running a hybrid meeting. SSDC told us “we initially requested that the meeting be fully virtual for Covid-19 safety. But, at the request of Castle Cary Town Council and residents, with regard to the strength of local feeling we agreed to help stage a hybrid event (virtual and in person) at a venue which was put forward by the town council and agreed by the Planning Inspectorate.” The hybrid nature of the meeting is where it fall went wrong. The YouTube recording had no video element and the sound quality was poor.
SSDC told us that when a date is agreed “It will resume as a virtual inquiry (online only and streamed on the District Council’s YouTube channel).” Which seems sensible. As we said above, SSDC have presented lots of virtual meetings via YouTube and they are usually of good quality.