The last few weeks have been different, to say the least. Not only for me but for everyone. The crisis has affected every person and every family in some way, some more tragically than others.
For me, as District Councillor the last few weeks have been spent working from home, which I am used to as my last full time job entailed working from home a lot. Where it is totally different is that all my meetings are now by video conference calls where I can see and hear from other Councillors and Officers of the Council. It takes a bit of getting used to but I’m now also using the technology to keep in touch with my extended family and friends.
I am the SDC Operations Portfolio holder covering Markets, Public toilets, car parks, waste services, street cleaning, grass cutting, cleaning services, leisure centres and open spaces to name a few.
In the early days of the crisis my aim was to keep as many services as possible running but it became very clear, very quickly that markets, public toilets, centres etc. would have to close. It also became clear that our car parks wouldn’t be used as the lockdown bit so we stood our enforcement team down.
To the credit of Biffa, all waste services have been maintained, unlike 127 other authorities who very early on cancelled green waste collections, some of whom are now reinstating them. Biffa are the HiViz Heroes (see the video on the Herald website).
Something that has given me great pleasure is helping in setting up and coordinating the Community Outreach Group that helps anyone that needs prescriptions collecting, delivering food or just a phone call. I haven’t done this on my own, I am 1 of a team of nearly 30 volunteers who have stepped forward to help their community. They are community heroes, in my opinion, as they actually go out of their way to help anyone. The General stores and the Post Office stores have helped us in this and my thanks go to Dermott and Raj.
I’ve set up credit facilities with the stores, Whatsapp groups, guidelines and now take the majority of the calls which I then allocated via Whatsapp. We’ve even set uo a credit card payment machine so that we can take payment from our resident through the window, no direct contact which we then pay once a week to the various stores that have given us credit.
My wife who is in the extremely vulnerable group has been busy baking cakes for the doctors and nurses at Stratford Hospital, who have been so kind to her, and for the bin men who continue to collect with a smile. The nurses and doctors at Stratford are all so friendly and appreciative for whatever the community does for them . It does however mean that I have to get up at 6.30am to hand the cakes over to the various teams that empty our bins (a very small price to pay).
The greatest pleasure is seeing the community pulling together even more in this crisis and I really hope that this continues long after the crisis melts away.
I have spoken to so many people via email, telephone, social media or video conferencing and it has been my good fortune to be a part of a great community such as Wootton Wawen.
Cllr. Ian Shenton