Date issued: 12 May 2020
Colchester Borough Council is finalising plans to ensure it can safely restore its services stopped or reduced as a result of the national restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The council has worked hard to maintain its key services and support to residents and businesses through redeploying staff from areas closed or reduced as a result of lockdown, such as Leisure World, museums and the North Essex Parking Partnership.
As well as using modern technology to ensure the continued delivery of its services, it has also helped people stay fit and healthy through the free My Wellness app launched by Leisure World and delivered historical-based learning programmes through its Museum from Home project.
The council is looking to build on these and other initiatives as it restores its services. However, it is also facing extreme pressures on its budget with estimated losses for this financial year in the region of £10 million. Some of the steps the council is looking to take include:
- assisting local communities to continue to support and look out for each other
- introducing virtual council meetings to enable key decisions to be made
- working towards restoring the council’s waste and recycling service in a way that is sustainable and safe for our staff and communities
- ensuring deep cleans are carried out at council buildings before they reopen to staff and members of the public
- social distancing measures in all council buildings and potentially introducing one-way channels, like those currently used in supermarkets, in some facilities
- continuing the efficient and effective home working arrangements for council staff wherever possible
- continuing to review working arrangements to ensure all staff stay safe
- building on initiatives introduced during lockdown which have helped enhance customer service – for example using screens at the crematorium to prevent people having to share hymn books
On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his steps for easing the restrictions put in place nationally to tackle Covid-19. The council is now reviewing the detailed guidance that has been issued following that announcement, to further inform its plans.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Mark Cory, said: “These have been tough times for all of us. Many of us have been affected in different ways as a result of Covid-19, either through losing loved ones or seeing the lockdown impact on jobs and businesses.
“Sadly, I feel that the Prime Minister’s message on Sunday was unclear, and his strategy leaves several questions unanswered. More guidance is now coming out of Parliament, but many workers and organisations still remain in limbo unsure of the next steps.
“While our key services have continued running, as a council we need to be clear about how we are going to help restore those that haven’t and support our communities and businesses as we come out of lockdown. I want to reassure everyone that we have been working tirelessly to develop robust plans for Colchester
“It will not be an easy process to fully restore our services and revitalize the local economy as there will still be many challenges ahead. However, Colchester was in a good position before Covid-19 and I believe we will come out the other side able embracing new opportunities to make Colchester even stronger.”
Page last reviewed: 12 May 2020