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The Council's response to Coronavirus and keeping residents safe

Councillors were updated on ongoing response work to the pandemic, guidance changes, nationwide testing issues and the work of the Safer Guildford Partnership at a meeting of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee earlier this week.

Councillors acknowledged the hard work carried out by officers over the past six months since the start of the outbreak and heard how the Council continues to help those in need.

Cllr Paul Spooner, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee said: "I am really thankful and grateful to the Council for keeping the Overview and Scrutiny Committee up to date with the actions taken so far.

"We are committed to improving our decision-making process through the Overview and Scrutiny system and being as transparent as possible. Scrutinising the decisions the Council make helps ensure the right choices are being made and during these unprecedented and challenging times it's key to meeting the needs of our residents, particularly those at risk and who are vulnerable. The Committee remains very supportive of the Council's response and believe the right actions have been taken so far."

Leader of the Council, Cllr Caroline Reeves praised the positive work that has happened as a result of Covid 19. She said: "The Council are continuing to do good work within our communities. Since the start of the pandemic we have been working really hard to help our most vulnerable residents.

"We currently find ourselves in a phase where more people are enjoying being out and about, but we need to remain vigilant, keep washing our hands and stay apart from others. We also need to look at our top priorities and the long-term impact the Coronavirus will have on our residents due to the financial implications it has caused."

Managing Director, James Whiteman's presentation gave an overview of the response since March. Highlights included an extra 20% of household waste and recycling being collected, making over 23,800 telephones calls from our community helpline, delivering over 3,500 food parcels to our most vulnerable residents and over 25,000 meals on wheels. To ensure the Council could provide this help, 87 council employees were redeployed to guarantee we delivered our essential services. The presentation also highlighted our work supporting local businesses and giving over 1620 grants totalling £21,785,000 million and over £1.111 million in discretionary grants.

He updated Councillors on the new government rule of six and the current issues with testing centres, which is a national problem. With a rise in cases locally and nationally, the demand for testing has increased and the NHS and government are working on a solution to meet the needs of residents. To help ease testing pressures, the Surrey Local Resilience Forum (LRF) are currently submitting a bid for a local testing site at the University of Surrey which will be open to both students and the wider community.

Councillor Julia McShane spoke about the great work the Safer Guildford Partnership (SGP) has carried out over the last year and how it has played an important role in the response to the outbreak by working together to ensure community safety in our borough. The purpose of the partnership, which includes a range of agencies and services from Police to Local Authorities, is to help residents feel safe in Guildford by reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. An annual report for the SGP was also presented.

Cllr Julia McShane, Lead Councillor of Community said: "The Safer Guildford Partnership plays an important role in responding to community safety issues through effective communications between partners. The Partnerships role to reduce the harm caused by a wide range of community safety issues, on the lives of our residents has seen some really positive work between the partner organisations over the last year. We have adapted well to Covid-19 and the restrictions placed on us all. Joint working between agencies has continued throughout the Coronavirus outbreak and has helped us to respond to increased reports of neighbourhood anti-social behaviour in particular. The Partnership has also worked together to raise public awareness of serious organised crimes such as county lines, and of the vital support services available for those affected by crime and anti-social behaviour."

Other areas covered at the meeting were:

  • A Lead Councillor Question Session
  • An Air Quality Strategy Action Plan Update
  • Property Investment Strategy
  • Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme

All items can be watched via the webcast on our Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting page.

Published on Thursday 17 September.