South Ayrshire Council has been accused of double standards by a councillor after encouraging local residents’ groups to make meetings open to the public.

The council has not allowed people and the press to attend any of its committees for a year. 

Normally, locally authorities are legally required to grant access but that rule has been relaxed due to the pandemic.

However despite is own proceedings being off -limits, the local authority has taken the step of advising community councils that their meetings should be open to the public.

The community councils have also been told to give instructions on how to attend virtually.

Conservative councillor Hugh Hunter said: “The double standards being invoked here are mind bending. The council has had months to allow the public and press to attend council meetings.

“They are now encouraging community councils to allow the public to participate in online meetings. It beggars belief.  I’m sure community councils will bend over backwards to make meetings accessible to the public.”

The council said it is buying a new system to broadcast proceedings.

A South Ayrshire Council spokesman said: “The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 temporarily revoked the right of the public to attend council meetings where there would be a real risk to public health.

“Community councils were not included within the legislation, and as a result, many have encountered difficulties in arranging and facilitating meetings over the last year. While we would encourage them to hold online meeting, this is a decision for each community council.”