A MELKSHAM councillor says he is "appalled" at the town council's decision to consider spending £28,000 on a new audio/video system for meetings after the local elections in May.

The council is among those which are considering how best to resume holding in-person meetings once the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown ends.

Cllr Richard Wiltshire, who represents North Ward, said the council's proposed solution to keep people safe was far too costly.

He said: "I was appalled at the council’s decision on Monday to consider spending up to £28,000 on an audio/video system to allow the new council in May to meet while being physically distanced in this present Covid situation.

"The need to avoid inter-personal contact is accepted while Covid is a risk but there could be a much cheaper option if public open meetings are necessary.

"Each councillor and staff officer could be issued with their personal small compact megaphone. These low power devices have volume controls and cost around £15. For 20 councillors and officers the cost would be only £300.

"The audio equipment described is used regularly by teachers and sports coaches; it could be used by councils to hold meetings with public attending in order to comply with prevailing Covid regulations. Has this been considered? A sanitised megaphone could be available for members of the public wishing to speak."

In an email to Melksham town clerk Linda Roberts he added: "We understand from you that councils will still be able to hold virtual meetings to which the public can also join. The Covid restrictions will not last for ever and normal open meetings will be able to resume."

Mrs Roberts replied: "I will pass your email onto David (McKnight) who is seeking quotes."