COUNCILLORS are looking forward to having members of the public return to the council chambers on Wednesday night.
The community has been locked out of the chambers for the last year, with COVID-19 health orders restricting the number of people who could attend.
Only councillors, key council staff and limited media could attend in person.
However, an easing of restrictions has made it possible for the community, albeit just 12 people, to return.
Councillor Monica Morse said it was the chamber's size that prevented the community from attending before restrictions were eased, but she is pleased they can join the meetings again now.
"It's the size of the chamber. We did discuss whether we would move the meetings into another venue, but we've got to live stream it; [the chamber] is all set up for live streaming, you can't just move it easily," Cr Morse said.
"It will be nice to have people back."
With there being limited seating, council is making tickets available to the general public to secure their place at the meetings.
Tickets can be booked through Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre on the Monday prior to each meeting.
While Cr Jess Jennings is ready to welcome the public back, he has criticised the "lottery" process involved with securing a seat.
"I was happy to go with the majority decision on opening it up via this lottery system, but I did not think the lottery system was a good idea," he said.
"I don't know who came up with that, but it just is ridiculous. Democracy is not about winning a lottery."
Cr Jennings would have preferred an online forum, which would have allowed anyone in the community to put questions to the council and have them addressed at meetings.
"We should have basically made an online forum for the entire time and we could be continuing that now until the State Government says it's entirely safe to have a full house in the council chambers of public gallery," he said.
"This idea of winning a lottery to get a ticket is ridiculous."
Council has around 10 regular attendees in the public gallery at each meeting, however, if there are significant items on the agenda, the room can be packed.
Cr Jennings said he wasn't sure how competitive tickets would be for next Wednesday's meeting, saying only time will tell.
It is worth noting that there are two items relating to the go-kart track project up for debate next week.
Members of the public can speak at the meeting, however, the public forum is not live streamed.
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