COUNCILLORS have agreed to cancel all non-essential public meetings until further notice following the government’s advice on coronavirus.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council had an emergency meeting at Maidenhead town hall and decided cabinet meetings should still go ahead to decide on core decisions but all other meetings that are not priority will now not happen with immediate effect.

This comes after the Prime Minister’s announcement to escalate measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, telling people to work from home where possible and to reduce social gatherings.

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Most decision-making powers will now be delegated to the managing director, Duncan Sharkey, who will consult with senior officers in the relevant field of expertise in the absence of panel, committee and council meetings.

Meetings where there isn’t a public element such as planning, and licensing objections will continue in private.

Leaders of the opposition (Liberal Democrat and Independents) argued they should be consulted on the decision-making process during this unprecedented time so they can stay updated on and scrutinise what the Tory-led council reports which was agreed upon.

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The leader of the council, councillor Andrew Johnson, said: “This is not a report I would envisage bringing before council.

“The scale of the public health crisis that we are faced with where we have an underlining need to continue with the democratic decision-making and we do have a significant duty of care not only for our staff but also for our residents.

“Our focus going forward has to be continually providing services to our residents and to continue what we can to keep our local economy going.

“It is absolutely vital that we continue to help business and indeed the voluntary sectors to continue their operations.”

The council office, Maidenhead town hall, has recently closed its doors to the public unless residents have pre-booked an appointment.

Services such as the library, adult and youth centres have also suspended activity until further notice.