Councils in north-west London will continue to stream public meetings for the foreseeable future after they found it had a positive effect on resident engagement.

Meetings held by Harrow Council and Brent Council remain available to view online, despite legislation ordering a return to face-to-face sittings from May 7.

Since this date, some meetings in Brent have been held in the civic centre under a hybrid system – several councillors sit in the chamber and others dial in online while the entire service is livestreamed for the public’s benefit.

A spokesperson for Brent Council said: “Regulations allowing remote meetings, which were introduced by the government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, came to an end on May 6.

“As a result, since May 7, the council has been holding its statutory committee meetings face-to-face.

“However, we will continue to make meetings accessible to the public and encourage observers to tune in via our live webcasts.

“The Government is now consulting on councils’ experience of remote meetings, and we will be highlighting the positive impact of remote meetings on democratic accountability, participation and inclusion in our response.”

Harrow Council has yet to hold a meeting back at its civic centre but has similar plans in place to address the issue going forward.

According to a report presented to its overview and scrutiny committee yesterday (Monday, May 17), “a mixture of virtual and hybrid meetings” will take place until the end of September.

The council is then considering “various options”, including a potential focus around the civic centre or the need to continue the use of interactive technology, from this date.

Several local authorities criticised the decision to reintroduce physical meetings earlier this month given ongoing safety concerns and the impact it could have on public or councillor involvement.

However, the Government pointed to the “significant progress” of the Covid-19 vaccination rollout and pressures on the legislative programme as reasons for the decision.

Luke Hall, minister of state for regional growth and local government, said he hopes to hear from councils and residents about their experiences of virtual meetings so the Government can “properly consider whether to make these a permanent option”.