Council meetings

Agenda item

Scrutiny of the Council's Covid-19 Response - Update Report


The report was introduced by the Chief Executive and the Director of Public



Councillor Mallory referred to the financial section in paragraph 6.8.1 and

noted that while there had been a £53.2m financial impact, only £18m had

been received leaving a gap of £35m. He urged for robust financial monitoring

and asked for updated information. The Acting Chief Finance Officer reported

a further £3.2m had been received as a share of a national allocation and that

the next income return would be prepared at the end of July.


Councillor Campbell asked if a public health communications strategy was

being formulated as the borough headed out of lockdown. Councillor Millbank

added that a summary of lessons learned was required as well as consistent

data management. The Chief Executive explained that the borough was

mirroring Londonwide messaging which reflected NHS provision and timing

provided by Public Health England.


The Chair pointed out there was likely to be new rules on social distancing

and public behaviour including the requirement to wear masks in shops and

he asked if the communications strategy targeted likely affected groups.

Councillor Codd underlined the need to collaborate with local communities,

the rapid introduction of traffic calming measures being a prime example of

that need.


The Chief Executive indicated a new Director of Programme Management 

would tackle some of the issues raised and indicated there were lessons that

could be learned on air quality and traffic calming.


Councillor Muldoon highlighted a review of BAME Health inequalities to be

undertaken by Birmingham City Council and Lewisham and he issued a

general invitation for nominations to be made to both an Academic Board and

an Advisory Board.


Councillor Curran raised three questions, asking when normal Council

meetings might return; what had been the financial impact on major town

centre developments such as the A205 realignment and was it possible for

emergency signage to have details of sources of further information.


The Chair indicated he thought the next step for the return of meetings would

be a hybrid option and he asked for an update on the feasibility of this to be

considered in August. The Acting Chief Finance Officer said information on

the financial impact on town centre developments would be provided

subsequent to the meeting. The Chief Executive said revisions to road closure

signage could form part of a wider communications strategy.


Councillor Bernards raised concerns about the increase in the numbers of

rough sleepers. He noted steps already taken by Councillor Bonavia with

regard to those with No Recourse to Public Funds. He pointed out those who

lacked access to digital technology might be prevented from making Council

Tax reduction claims or from accessing Homesearch facilities.

The Director of Public Services responded by explaining safeguards had been

put in place for the digitally excluded including all Universal Credit claimants.

A comprehensive telephone service was in place for all Homesearch queries.


Councillor Bell, the Cabinet Member for Housing explained that in terms of

assisting rough sleepers the policy was now mandated as ‘Priority Need’

rather than the previous ‘Everyone In’. He reported on steps taken to assess

and assist all rough sleepers apart from a small minority who refused to



Councillor Campbell asked if greater communication could take place with

residents with prevention messages for harder to reach groups. The Chief

Executive said all communication channels including social media outlets

were being used reflecting Londonwide messages on social distancing. She

said she would ask the Director of Public Health to provide an update on

translations which were available.


Councillor Sorba sought fuller details of the Summer Activities programme. He

also asked if the road safety measures introduced during the pandemic would

be reviewed in September.


The Executive Director for Children & Young People said a guide on Summer

Activities would be produced shortly containing fewer but more targeted





(1) the update on the Council’s response to COVID-19 be noted; and


(2) a further update on the the Council’s response to COVID-19 be received in



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