Calls for council meetings to continue to be held online have been backed by the MP for Lichfield and Burntwood.
Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, said earlier this year that the ability to attend sessions virtually could create a more diverse range of councillors in future.
The current practice of holding online meetings has taken place under regulations brought in because of the coronavirus crisis – but they are due to end in May 2021.
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said he was hopeful the Government would consider a long-term change.
“I fully agree with Cllr Pullen – the temporary order put in place because of COVID-19, should be made permanent.
“I contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government who now say they will ‘consider’ extending the temporary order allowing virtual council meetings indefinitely.
“This would transform local democracy across the country.
“Whether the decision is made in 2021 or not, I believe this will be the inevitable future for local council meetings.”Michael Fabricant MP
Cllr Pullen said engagement with the decision-making process at the council had increased with more people tuning in to watch meetings take place.
Local Government Minister Luke Hall said he was keen to explore the benefits of online sessions put forward by the council leader..
“While the remote meetings regulations applies to meetings only until 7th May 2021, I am aware that the flexibility to meet remotely has been welcomed by many, and the Government will be considering carefully the case for extending these regulations as necessary in the coming months.
“It is widely acknowledged that the regulations have helped local authorities to redeploy resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and make business critical decisions in a democratic way while protecting the health and safety of their members, officers and the public.
“It is particularly interesting to note Cllr Pullen’s enthusiasm for remote meetings and the benefits he has described, including increased public engagement, improvements in councillor attendance, and a reduction in the council’s carbon footprint.
“I was also interested to note his point regarding the additional flexibility that remote meetings provide and the potential this has to attract more diverse individuals to the councillor role.”Local Government Minister Luke Hall
Mr Fabricant said he would work with Cllr Pullen to help Lichfield forge the way for the future of council meetings.
“Early next year, I will press this matter again with the Department both face to face and in the House of Commons.
“Cllr Doug Pullen and I will work together on this and if we achieve a permanent change to the rules of council meetings nationwide, it will demonstrate that where Lichfield leads, others follow.”Michael Fabricant MP