Tackling coronavirus and building an investment focussed approach to recovery

A detailed report on the council’s response to Coronavirus, and its approach to recovery will be considered next week (Cabinet agenda item 3, Tuesday 9 June).

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The detailed report being considered next week (Cabinet agenda item 3, Tuesday 9 June) can be found on our website.

As part of its response, the council has so far:

  • Set up Southend Coronavirus Action helpline within ten days, with the help of SAVS and South Essex Community Hub (SECH). This has so far received over 5,000 calls, made over 7,000 outbound calls made to shielded people, and supported over 1,100 separate household, with over 600 food parcels, over 600 shopping deliveries and over 550 people having their medication collected and delivered. People have also been helped with access to money, their gas and electricity bills and befriending
  • Put over 120 people who were sleeping rough into temporary accommodation
  • Prepared and delivered over 4,000 meals for those in temporary accommodation thanks to Southend Adult Community College, Mecca Bingo, HARP, One Love Southend, The Storehouse and local St Vincent de Paul charity, along with other council and community volunteers
  • Worked with local schools to support them opening for up to 600 local children by mid-May and prepare for wider re-opening
  • Handed out over £35m in central Government grants to local businesses and set up a dedicated hardship fund for local people
  • Opened a 13 bed care unit for older people who have recently been discharged from hospital
  • Supported 1,263 children in need, 173 of who are children subject to child protection plans and 310 children who are looked after by the council
  • Secured and distributed over 200,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who need it
  • Checked on all known previous victims of domestic abuse to see if they needed further support
  • Worked closely with health colleagues to ensure hospital beds could be freed up as much as possible by helping care providers prepare to receive those coming out of hospital
  • Supported local testing at London Southend Airport
  • Through South Essex Homes staff, contacted all those over 70 years old (over 700) in council accommodation to ensure they were safe, and to provide reassurance and support. Residents in sheltered housing have also been frequently reminded to maintain social distancing.

A separate report (Cabinet agenda item 4, Tuesday 9 June) into the local financial impact of COVID-19 states that the overall estimated cost could be in the region of £15m to £20m for 2020/21. This is made up of emergency one off funding for things like the food distribution centre and adult social care support. Additionally it arises due to loss in income, a potential increase in social care pressures and the impact of easing lockdown measures.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “An incredible amount of work has been done to respond locally to Coronavirus, and I am very proud of how council staff, volunteers, businesses and our community have come together over the past 10 weeks.

“The council and its partners have been at the very heart of the initial local response, and also re-starting services and reopening facilities as lockdown measures have been eased by the Government, including the reopening of our recycling centres, golf course and other outdoor areas, and putting in place a balanced approach to our seafront.

“Whilst we look towards and plan recovery, we also remain alive to the severe financial challenges this has presented, and also key new responsibilities being given to local councils, including the new test and trace system and producing our local infection control plans by the end of June.”

Our recovery

Cllr Gilbert continues: “We have much work to do still in terms of responding to the pandemic, which is far from over. We do also want to look forward though, to how our town and our economy can bounce back.

“The major projects we have in the pipeline as a borough, and the investment they will bring will be so important to drive economic growth, encourage inward investment, create jobs, and support and invigorate local businesses so they can recover too and become better than ever before.

“Whilst current restrictions have of course caused some unavoidable delay, our key projects are still moving forward, and they have even greater significance in the light of the sharp economic downturn.”

Key projects detailed in the report include Better Queensway, airport business park, high street renewal projects, the housing regeneration pipeline, work with Southend United Football Club and Seaway.

Cllr Gilbert concludes: “We also need to ensure we continue our work to become a green city, tackle climate change, our transport infrastructure, understand local community issues and continue to change and evolve as an organisation.”

As part of the report, the joint administration has developed six political recovery priorities. These have been developed to establish the ‘key considerations’ that should factor in future planning for Southend-on-Sea, under the 2050 ambition and outcomes.  A further report on this will be considered by cabinet in July.

These are:

  • Economic focus on a stronger and safer town - Southend rebuilds and supports a local economy and social infrastructure that recognises recent challenges but is clear about the ambition for the future.
  • Green City and climate change - An ambitious place that is committed to tackling the climate emergency and takes steps towards making sustainable, long lasting and far reaching impacts across Southend.
  • Travel and Transport - Understanding the needs to move in, out and around Southend, our travel and transport infrastructure will address the present challenges and look to future options that support Southend-on-Sea’s Green city ambitions.
  • People and communities - Understanding who is more socially excluded resulting from Covid-19. Working with people and communities to understand the issues, build capacity, resilience and finding solutions in response to the local and individual challenges.
  • Major projects - Delivering on key pieces of work that strongly position Southend socially, environmentally and economically for the future, enabling the town to draw in opportunities and secure investment.
  • How we learn and recover as an organisation - A proactive and forward-thinking council that embeds and sustains the recent transformation in how the organisation works. Continues to adapt, respond and reshape to current challenges, that future-proofs the delivery of quality services.

The reports being considered by cabinet will be considered by the policy and resources, place, and people scrutiny committees at their meetings on 11, 15 and 16 June 2020 respectively.

Published: 2nd June 2020

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