‘Hybrid’ meetings which some councillors physically attend while others dial-in from home could be part of a local authority’s plans to protect its older members when the coronavirus lockdown is eventually rolled-back.

A glimpse into how Bromley Council’s new normal could appear was presented at a meeting of the authority’s urgency committee on Wednesday.

While members approved plans to hold meetings remotely during the pandemic, some also took the opportunity to discuss future plans when lockdown measures are eventually eased.

Mayor Nicholas Bennett raised the issue that “about a third” of Bromley Council members are either over or approaching 70 years of age – placing them in a category significantly at risk from Covid-19.

Cllr Bennett told members he was concerned that smaller committee rooms commonly used for meetings wouldn’t enable social distancing protocols to be followed in the wake of the lockdown being eased.

He inquired if Bromley Civic Centre’s Great Hall, where larger meetings of council are usually held, could become the default meeting place for councillors.

Director of corporate services Mark Bowen said the Great Hall is currently being used for “operational purposes” related to the authority’s coronavirus response.

However, he said using the hall to host the majority of meetings when they resume would be “absolutely fine as long as it’s available”.

He added “hybrid meetings” were being considered – where some members would dial-in remotely to limit the amount of councillors physically present in the council chambers.

Mr Bowen said the authority was also exploring other options to help with social distancing in a post-pandemic world, including opening up sliding doors which would expand the size of the smaller committee rooms.