A COUNCILLOR has expressed his frustration at the “suspension of democracy” at local level.

Northumberland County Council has not held a meeting of the Tynedale Local Area Council since March, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while key planning matters are being dealt with by officers.

County councillor Derek Kennedy, who represents Hexham West, said he acknowledgedthe exceptional circumstances caused by Covid-19.

But he has called for meetings to be resumed using video conference, a system which has worked successfully for Hexhm Town Council, of which he was also a member.

Coun. Kennedy said: “I can understand certain council meetings being suspended in April and May, however the council has had many weeks to put arrangements in place such as electronic meetings.”

Coun. Kennedy said local area council meetings would have discussed the easing of the lockdown, the reopening of town centres, markets and public toilets, as well as planning matters.

He added:” I feel really frustrated by the suspension of democracy, meetings are going ahead at cabinet level but back-bench councillors are being denied a key input.”

A county council spokeswoman said committee arrangements were under constant review. She added: “Although the organisation and running of virtual meetings is in its infancy, the council has started to hold some key meetings this way.”