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CoVID-19 update from your LibDem College Ward councillors - 3 July 2020

July 3, 2020 5:52 PM

Welcome to our latest update, responding to developments since our last update on Friday 19 June. We've not attempted to try and summarise the current rules or guidance around COVID-19 since, well, we are just as confused as everyone! However we hope the following is of interest.

Borough and County update re COVID-19:

  • At a Strategy & Resources meeting on Thursday 2 July figures for the first quarter of the Borough's financial year (which runs from 1 April) showed a deficit of around £2m just for the quarter. Estimates for the whole year are very varied given the uncertainty but could reach £8m.
  • Although the government announced some more help for local authorities that same day, there are no details as yet. So the impact of our deficit could fall totally on our reserves.
  • At the same meeting David asked whether the officers were getting the appropriate level of detail on testing results, in particular those from the private sector. This lack of information appears to have been a contributory factor in the local authorities in Leicester not seeing the full picture. The officers were reassuring but it does illustrate some of the difficulties with the interaction with Surrey Council.
  • The officers are also ensuring they have learned the lessons of the past 4 months and aim to be better able to manage a second spike (other than from a financial perspective of course)
  • People have flagged some unsafe practices around the market square and within the Ashley Centre. Council staff are trying their best, including walking around in High Viz jackets to remind people of the need for safety.

Other local updates:

  • Today the local health authorities announced the planned creation of a new acute hospital in Sutton, while still retaining many services in Epsom. The Press Release is here: https://bit.ly/31FjYYe
  • The County library in Epsom Square should be reopening on 6 July but the situation in Bourne Hall is less clear at present, since the library is only a part of the building which is otherwise still shut.
  • We've been asked whether postmen get tested but haven't had a firm answer. However, we've not heard of any significant concerns with post being a vector for the virus.
  • A review of the local Council's wards and how many councillors it needs has started under the guidance of the Boundary Commission. Any changes are intended to be in place in time for the next Council elections in May 2024.

Wider issues:

  • The scandal around the handling of PPE contracts continues. One article that summarises this is here:https://bit.ly/2BCTfAZ
  • This, and other aspects of the pandemic, have increased the demand for a public enquiry. There is now cross-party support for this on this link: https://bit.ly/2C0l1aw
  • One potential development with long-term adverse implications is the intention to further loosen the controls over building regulations. There is a petition here: https://bit.ly/3irghvl
  • And finally, an interesting quote from the head of Public Health England today, make of it what you will! (shortened to save space): "There are four behaviours which I have found to stand the test of time that define the most able teams and organisations. …. The first of these is to say and do the same thing - people notice when these are not aligned. Second, to be good to be around when things go wrong and to fix problems... …. Third, to keep promises and if you cannot, to explain why. And finally, the most able people, teams and organisations understand the importance of speaking well of each other in public and in private." I must try harder on the last one when talking of Mr Johnson!

All the best,

Julie and David

Friday 3 July 2020