Alicia Patterson – Head of Environmental Health and Sarah Porru – Head of Regeneration, introduced a report which identified the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery and noted the plans that were being put in place for recovery.
Whilst some elements of the COVID-19 response continued to be ongoing, a recovery response had been initiated so services would be ready as lockdown restrictions began to be eased. Work therefore commenced in the planning of the Council’s recovery in late April.
The proposed response had been categorised into five work streams. These work streams were:
· Reinstatement of services;
· Economic recovery;
· Community recovery;
· Financial recovery; and
· Advantages of the positive legacy.
The purpose of the report was to consider the recovery process as it had developed so far, for the following work streams relative to this Panels area of activity:
· Reinstatement of Services,
· Economic Recovery,
The report set out the recovery work that had been undertaken to date and the planned work going forward. The Panel was encouraged to highlight any areas that required further consideration.
Members thanked the Officers for the comprehensive report and raised the following questions/queries:-
Availability of face- to- face service at Receptions - For safety to be ensured, Receptions remained closed to members of the public. Customer Advisors triaged enquiries and in special circumstances could arrange one to one appointments. It was the responsibility of Biddulph Town Council to decide as to whether to open the Town Hall building to the public.
Forum for town centre recovery arrangements:- The composition of this forum was queried, as some members thought that the representatives should have been selected by the Town Councils.
Additional support and guidance for community venues & events – The Council was working with community type businesses. All event organisers had been offered support to ensure events were Covid-19 safe, that Track and Trace was in place and events would be closely monitored. The guidance on the Council’s website was due to be updated and would include clear guidelines for events.
Small Business Grants – The criteria for the grants was clarified and it was confirmed that the Council had done as much as possible to ensure all eligible businesses had been contacted and supported. The deadline for applications would be checked after the meeting.
Future High Street Fund and loss of income due to free car parking in August – Unfortunately, the application for the Future High Street Fund in Cheadle had been unsuccessful. However, the Council had been invited to take part in a Task Force Project. This had been postponed, and upon commencement of the project, Cheadle Town Council would be notified. The data relating to the free car parking in August was currently being analysed, and once completed, this information would be circulated to the Panel.
Outbreak Control Board – Councillor Deaville emphasised the importance of issues being reported and two way communication. He gave assurance that the Director of Public Health at Staffordshire County Council acted immediately to intelligence/concerns. Members were thanked for their diligence and the Environmental Health Team for its swift response to any matters of concern.
Parking Review – The Car Parking Strategy was part of the Corporate Plan and it was anticipated that consultation would take place with town councils, economic groups and other stakeholders this Autumn. Councillor Ralphs clarified the make up of the Forum which primarily focussed on free car parking in August, two meetings had taken place and a final meeting to conclude would be held on 18th September 2020.
Covid-19 Test Centres – Councillor Deaville advised that the situation in the Moorlands was much better than currently reported nationally on the news. After the meeting, he would send details of a County Council App to order a test on-line, the location of the testing centres and any relevant testing data. Testing had taken place locally and positive feedback had been received. Councillor Atkins informed the Panel that Staffordshire County Council had commissioned laboratory work to be undertaken at the University Hospitals of North Midlands.
Registration of new food business – The Head of Environmental Health explained that in the region of 40 new food businesses had been created since ‘lockdown’ and each of these had received a telephone call to offer advice and support. She would look into additional publicity to the raise the profile of the star rating scheme.
A member also expressed their concern in relation to paragraph 8.28 of the report as it was thought that there were some significant implications in the way in which the Council would operate its planning functions. There was also some disappointment around the climate change element of the report and it was requested this was revisited.
1) NOTE the details of the Council’s recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic as outlined in the report;
2) SUPPORT the proposed recovery plans outlined in the report;
3) IDENTIFIED areas of activity which required further consideration.