CHANGES in working practices, which have been forced on Denbighshire Council by the pandemic, could become permanent, bringing benefits to the economy, environment and home life.

Since the lockdown was introduced and offices were closed the number of people accessing council systems online has risen from 200 a day to 1,600 and nearly all meetings are “virtual”.

In a report to councillors Alan Smith, the authority’s head of business improvement and modernisation, said: “Working this way has brought real benefits: staff home-to-work business mileage has significantly reduced, as has travel to meetings by members, both reducing the council’s carbon impact.

“Local traffic and consequent pollution have reduced, and working from home has improved the work life/ balance for many people, staff and members alike.”

For those reasons, said Mr Smith, the model should be maintained when social distancing is no longer required, with all, or most, meetings remaining virtual and working from home should be the norm.

Other ways of operating virtually should also be possible, such as using video evidence instead of site meetings.

There would be democratic benefits from such a change, with people with work or caring responsibilities more able to serve as councillors, thus attracting a wider range of people.

This has been the aim of the council and Mr Smith added: “This could be a realistic target for the election of the next administration in 2022.”