A NEW petition has been launched to give authorities the power to hold virtual meetings.

The current power to hold virtual meetings for local authorities expires on May 7, and councils have been informed that it will not be extended.

Now though, member of the independent group in Eastleigh and Eastleigh Borough Councillor, Gin Tidridge, has put together a petition against the change.

The councillor is calling for authorities to determine their own meeting formats, whether that be online or in person, and says mass indoor meetings will still be "inappropriate" in May.

With her petition having gone live last Monday, it has currently been signed by 285 people, with fellow councillors and residents sharing links to the petition on social media.

Gin said: "I really hate the idea of going back to in person council meetings on May 7. I think it's too early.

"I think giving the councils the chance to come up with their own system makes a lot more sense and it seems crazy that we're going too quickly into in person meetings again.

"There are some big advantages in terms of public participation and having some virtual options there. It just seems by going back to 100 per cent to in person meetings, we are losing some positives that came out of running meetings in a different way."

The petition is now live for the next 6 months, and will be responded to by the government if it is to hit its target of 10,000 signatures in that time.

At 100,000 it will also be considered for debate in parliament.

Gin added: "It's a safety issue for everybody, it's a safety issue for the councillors, it's a safety issue for the council officers who have to be there and administer the meetings, it's also an issue for members of the public who want to speak at the meetings.

"I think its just about trying to come up with a clever way of looking at things so everybody can get more involved rather than just going back automatically to how things were before."

For the petition visit petition.parliament.uk/petitions/581311