I AM appalled to learn that Councillor David Pighills has been stood down from Craven District Council as a result of a legal ruling that a councillor loses the right to remain in post if she/he has not attended a meeting in the last six months.

Surely this law can only apply when it is possible physically to attend a meeting in person.

As we know, for many months it has been impossible for Cllr Pighills to do just that due to Covid -19 restrictions which have resulted in the cancellation of such meetings, it now being only possible to meet via Zoom.

We are not all technological experts. Cllr Pighills lives in an area with very poor broadband reception which makes communication by computer difficult on a regular basis. In addition, Cllr Pighills is of a generation (as am I) which does not take readily to these new methods, he uses neither email nor possesses a "smartphone", relying on land-line telephone communication as do so many others in the Dales. Surely council officers who were aware that this is the case could have found a solution, such as setting him up once a month in the council chamber with reliable broadband and someone by to help where needed. I know that council staff are under great stress due to all the extra work that Covid-19 has brought them, but one of their most important roles must be to to make sure that serving councillors are enabled to carry out their duties.

There will be many in Cllr Pighills's ward who are, like myself, deeply upset to lose such an excellent representative: he rarely missed our monthly meetings and always stopped for a word afterwards with any parishioner who needed his advice. Always kind and cheerful too, he is a fine human being who should not have been treated in this way.

Margaret Billing, Parish Councillor

Barden Fell

Paul Shevlin, chief executive of Craven District Council, has responded: “At the beginning of lockdown, we did give all councillors the opportunity to put alternative arrangements in place in order to attend meetings online, if they had difficulty with poor internet and phone signals.

We agreed the provision of a separate meeting room at Belle Vue Square in Skipton which could be used by a councillor for Council and committee meetings if they were unable to join these from home.

We also ensured that members were able to dial in to meetings from a phone line if they wished to do so. We also contacted members by post if they had no access to email.

Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic, like all other councils we are currently unable to hold elections. This is an issue that affects the whole country in these unprecedented times, and so the vacancy will be held open until such time as a by-election can take place. The election is likely to be May 6 2021 under the current legislation.