VIRTUAL council meetings could come to an end in May, with local authorities forced to return to pre-coronavirus arrangements.

Craven District Council, which has seen public attendance at meetings soar since they went online from March last year, says it is waiting to see the outcome of a challenge in the High Court against the Government’s decision not to extend virtual meetings beyond May 7.

Paul Shevlin, Craven Council’s chief executive said: “The Government has decided not to extend current regulations, due to expire on May 7, that have allowed for virtual council and committee meetings to take place.

“Craven District Council has like other local authorities taken advantage of these regulations to ensure that council business could continue, whilst keeping our communities safe during the Covid- 19 pandemic.”

He added: “Holding virtual meetings has also meant members of the public have been able to attend and engage with these meetings in a way that was convenient to them.

“The failure to renew these regulations will mean that the council now has to look at how we hold face to face meetings in the future, and work is ongoing in relation to this.

“There has been a formal High Court challenge issued by the Lawyers in Local Government Group, the Association of Democratic Services Officers and Hertfordshire County Council, which is due to be heard at the end of April, in relation to the failure to renew the relevant regulations.

“Craven DC shall monitor the progress of this legal action and remains committed to delivering vital services and support to our businesses, residents and communities in such a way that keeps everybody safe at this challenging time.”