Since my last update the world is a different place.We had the initial lockdown which resulted in no elections taking place and us retaining control of the council under what is considered a new normal. However running the council in a very different way has had its challenges. We now have virtual meetings, telephone conferences and very seldom face-to-face meetings which makes it difficult to manage, but not impossible.
The cost of covid-19 to the local authority to date is approximately £2.8 million of which we have received just short of £2 million from the government, therefore we will be looking to take approximately £800,000 from our reserves. I am confident that we can manage that as we have built our reserves up over the past 10-years to a figure of in excess of £6million which will allow us to meet these additional costs in these exceptional circumstances. As I've told my colleagues these reserves were meant for a rainy day and I have to say it is not a rainy day it is a torrential downpour!
Since the first lockdown back in the end of march we have maintained all frontline services, ensuring we have met with government guidelines, made sure all areas had been made safe, closed down when necessary and reopened. We have equipped our staff and councillors with the necessary IT to be able to work from home.
From day one we had a covid-19 gold team comprising of town hall staff, working in the town hall to ensure the safety of the staff that needs to be working from the town hall.
We have undertaken a great deal of additional work such as finding homes for 89 local people who were homeless, distributing £13 million worth of grant to businesses and now the additional grant for those who are non essential shops closed for the 4-week period, helped with the set-up of Gosport food bank partnerships and working with agencies to ensure we we meet the demands of vulnerable residents.
There is little wonder that with so much going on and that some areas of the council have been under tremendous pressure we will not be able to deliver all services as promptly as we would like to, however please be assured both your Councillors and town hall staff are working harder than ever to help get us through this pandemic.
Cllr Mark Hook