Party leaders join forces to pledge ‘whatever is needed’ to keep Northamptonshire residents safe

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The leaders of three political parties have joined forces to reassure residents that the county council will do ‘whatever is needed’ to keep residents safe in the coronavirus outbreak.

Northamptonshire County Council said the virus required its ‘full attention’ and that as a result it would be ‘standing down’ lower priority services to focus its staff on preparing those who would need help.

This morning’s full council meeting went ahead at County Hall, but with a significantly shorter agenda than originally planned. Only 23 of 57 councillors were able to attend the meeting, and they all sat further apart for social distancing purposes.

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Coronavirus was the main topic of discussion, and a joint statement from all three party leaders was read out by council leader Matt Golby. Labour leader Danielle Stone and Liberal Democrat leader Chris Stanbra added their names to the statement.

It said: “We can all agree that we are facing an unprecedented situation nationally and we are rightly concerned for our friends, neighbours, businesses and our residents, especially those who may be vulnerable or elderly.

“As a local authority, we face a challenging few months ahead. We are assured the council has been working with every partner and agency across the county, with the support of the government, to prepare and implement robust plans to manage the impact of coronavirus. The council will do whatever is needed to keep residents safe.”

The county council has mobilised its ‘critical incident plan’ with the public health service at the ‘forefront’ of planning and decisions.

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The statement also said schools were ‘being communicated with’ and advice being offered in relation to the school closure announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday.

Councillors Matt Golby (top), Danielle Stone and Chris Stanbra released a joint statement todayCouncillors Matt Golby (top), Danielle Stone and Chris Stanbra released a joint statement today
Councillors Matt Golby (top), Danielle Stone and Chris Stanbra released a joint statement today | jpimedia

It also addressed which services could be supported throughout the outbreak.

The statement said: “This will not be a quick fix and we are having to prioritise our effort. The chief executive, elected members and commissioners agree that the virus outbreak must have our full attention and to that end the authority is now repurposing staff to these tasks and vital services.

“Our key frontline services, like adult and children’s social care will continue to function and staff are being repurposed and will work closely with partners and our hospitals to make sure we can still keep people safe in appropriate settings. This may mean moving people in the short term but their safety and wellbeing will be the first concern.

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“In line with our plan this means the council has stood down some lower priority services to focus our staff and effort on preparing to support those who need our help. As soon as possible and it is safe these services will be resurrected.”

The three leaders also praised the community spirit that had already been shown, with many residents already helping more vulnerable members of society.

It added: “We recognise that community and community spirit is one of the most vital resources we have in this situation. This is particularly the case in a county with a diversity of rural and urban areas with many vulnerable and elderly residents. We support efforts to harness this spirit in a way that keeps people and volunteers safe. The council has a dedicated community resilience lead within our emergency planning team who will be coordinating this.

“The council will be making arrangements to publish information online on behalf of all partners shortly, and to which all volunteer and community groups can be directed to get advice, guidance and to be safely connected to those in need, and who our residents can be certain are genuine in their offer of help. As soon as this is available we will advise all members of where to direct offers of help and where to get information.”