17 April 2020
This week, the Director General of the World Health Organisation reminded global leaders that “when we are divided, the coronavirus exploits the cracks between us.” It’s a perspective that works at a local level, too. Over the past few weeks we’ve learned that by standing together, uniting against the threat of Covid-19, our communities have become stronger and the spread of the virus is beginning to slow down.
Because the current measures are working, the Government has announced a further phase of lockdown for the next three weeks. For many in our District, this decision will hit hard and as restrictions continue, the pressures may force new cracks to appear. That’s why it’s so important that we don’t lose heart, that we follow the guidance on social distancing and remain committed to looking after the most vulnerable members of our community.
Much has been achieved and it’s important to not lose sight of how far we’ve come during this emergency. Rest assured that we continue to evaluate the changes we’ve made and remain keenly focused on what’s required to maintain the very best local service, even in these testing conditions. We’re especially pleased to be able to re-instate the collection of green waste from next Monday 20 April.
Ultimately, our aim is to emerge from the lockdown with a clear recovery plan and having learned some critical lessons about what brings communities, neighbourhoods and people together.
Shielding Hub and Community Groups
Volunteer drivers, council staff, charities and numerous local businesses continue their tireless work to support our most vulnerable residents.
Over the past week more than 300 boxes of essential food and medicine have been distributed across the district by the Hub team to those who are shielding or self-isolating. Our focus is now turning to extending this support to residents who are struggling to feed themselves and their families because of medical, social issues or because of the economic impact of this crisis.
It is important to ensure that we reach those who are in critical need, so please ask anyone you believe might require this service to call:
- 01926 456 111 - Monday to Friday - 9am to 5pm, or
- 0800 408 1447 - Monday to Thursday - 9am to 5pm. Friday - 9am to 4.30pm Saturday & Sunday - 9am to 3pm
Community groups have also been established on a town, parish and even street level so that neighbours can look out for each other and provide support; neighbours who might not have even spoken to each other before are now doing the shopping, putting the bins out and sharing information and news. Get more information about these brilliant groups can be found on our communities and volunteers page.
Business Support & Economic Recovery
In just nine working days, over £22.5m in grant support has been paid to 1,725 local businesses, which we hope will not only help them get through these difficult times, but also encourage planning for their recovery.
There are some major financial challenges to be faced not only by local business and community organisations, but in the ongoing operation of our services. Warwick District has only received some £60k in government grants to support our operations at a time when reserves are being raided and income has fallen by more than 25%. Like so many other organisations, the economic impact of this crisis is threatening the operation of this Council at a time when our services are needed most. Hopefully government will recognise this fact and provide the urgent grant funding needed.
The District Recovery Plan is being built on three strands: the restoration of Council services; the local economy and our community groups. Additional staff have been added to our business support team working closely with the Business Improvement District, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the Chambers of Commerce and Trade. We believe that a shared endeavour will bring forward positives initiatives to put our local economy back on its feet as quickly as possible after the lock down ends.
There is much to be thankful for, so many members of the community have continued in their work to support the vulnerable and isolated members of society, and maintain our services throughout. We extend our continued and heartfelt thanks to the NHS, the carers and the volunteers who work alongside them.
Also, the reinstatement of the Garden waste green bin service would not have been possible if not for the support of Warwickshire County Council and SUEZ, which together worked-up an ingenious way to keep the crews safe, ensuring they can maintain social distancing. Indeed, all our contractors and partners who provide essential services on behalf of the Council during this time: Veolia, Idverde as well as Axis, Dodds and D&K have continued their excellent work, which is much appreciated by residents across the District.
But to all of you, a very Big Thank You for supporting the guidance and staying at home over the Easter break. Empty parks and gardens are not something we’d be pleased to hear about during normal times, but over Easter, it demonstrated our community spirit, how well we are working together and we hope this will carry us forward for the next three weeks as we focus on defeating the virus and saving lives.
Leader, Warwick District Council