Message from Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council
First and foremost I hope you are all keeping safe and well at this very worrying time for the Nation. We have seen our lives turned upside down in a matter of weeks, even days. It is my intent now to inform you of the activity that is happening to keep you all as safe as possible during this time and to reduce the risk of infection of Coronavirus.
We have all been told to stay at home unless we are key workers, or can safely work observing social distancing.
In the case of people who may be vulnerable due to age, or having any underlying health conditions, this is all the more important. Just go out for exercise, or shopping.
There are a further few people who have been identified (by GPs) to Government who are at the highest risk due to having particular health conditions. These will be 'shielded' by Central Government efforts and will receive a box delivered through the agencies of companies such a Brakes etc. Companies that would have supplied the catering/leisure trades now have be redeployed. These most shielded will have had a letter from the Department of Health.
For all others the local authorities will be supporting them through our Hubs. WCC has a main Hub in Leamington and we have bought food to deliver to District Hubs - there is a Hub in each District with one in Stratford. The District Councils are organising delivery from that place of food parcels to people identified to us as socially isolating, with no family or friends to support them. We have been blessed with an army of volunteers who are identified to deliver. They are literally saving peoples lives and to date we have delivered hundreds of these boxes across Warwickshire.. We also have volunteers delivering prescriptions to people in this category.
Many local villages and communities are also making huge efforts to support their own communities and this is fantastic.
Warwickshire County Council staff are now almost entirely working from home. Fortunately we invested in our technology over the last 2 years which allowed this move to happen within a week and largely without problems. The Chief Executive and a few Directors are operating from Shire Hall in Warwick to run the Local Resilience Forum - in effect our strategic planning organisation for all of this emergency. This is made up of County and District Councils, Police, Health and all key partners. There are daily conference calls across the Region including Government Officials to see how progress if made and what problems there are. The County Council is spending a huge amount of money on this and our belief is that we need to spend where we need it now and support our residents and businesses through this emergency. We are extremely blessed to have gone into this with a strong balance sheet and the benefit of good reserves. We have had significant financial support from Government as well.
We will continue to operate as many services as possible however, we have had to close Museums, Libraries (although there is an online service) the Registration Service is now online or by phone for those not able to access online services. We have had to close our Household Waste Sites, but will review this after Easter. We found the use was hugely increased and there was no public distancing taking place. A few days after the Prime Minister announced the Lock Down, requiring no journey that were not essential. We have kept our Country Parks open however the car parks are only open for disabled badge holders.
There is a very comprehensive information page available on the County Council website which I do recommend. If anyone has any direct questions I will be happy to do my best to answer them if you send me an email at email@example.com.
Please keep safe and stay at home.
Izzi Seccombe OBE
Warwickshire County Council
Stour and the Vale Division