Face to face council meetings must return following the May local elections the high court has ruled.

The government chose not to continue local councils’ ability to hold meetings virtually.

Hertfordshire County Council, Lawyers in Local Government and the Association of Democratic Services Officers had argued to the High Court to allow for a hybrid of in-person and online meetings from May 7.

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Wiltshire Council has said the decision is “unfortunate” as throughout the pandemic it believes it has shown that strong governance can be carried out virtually.

Terence Herbert, chief executive of Wiltshire Council, said: “Indeed, in many cases, there has been greater engagement when meetings have been held virtually.

“However, we have been planning for this eventuality and the next full council meeting later this month will be an in-person meeting.”

There will be some changes for the first full council meeting of the incumbent council with the meeting being held in the Civic Centre in Trowbridge as opposed to County Hall in the county town.

 The Trowbridge Council Civic Centre. Photo Trevor Porter 67297 1..

The Trowbridge Council Civic Centre. Photo Trevor Porter 67297 1..

Mr Herbert said this is because of the space and measures which need to be in place to ensure the meeting is Covid-secure.

“The public has a right to attend this meeting too, so we’ll ensure there are measures in place to keep everyone safe,” he added.

“I’d kept the previous group leaders up to date on the situation, and after the elections, we’ll update all elected members on the arrangements.”

The first full council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 18.