Reflecting so far and looking ahead – Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council
Published Thursday, 23rd April 2020
As we know that the current 'lockdown' will last several weeks longer at least, I want to reassure people about the support available and the work we’re doing in Southend-on-Sea.
People are working incredibly hard to do everything they can to support our citizens and businesses.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is delivering the following measures to support our Borough during the coronavirus outbreak:
- Keeping our frontline services running as best we can, including waste and recycling collections, grounds maintenance and community safety
- Supporting the most vulnerable people in the Borough and those in receipt of care services
- Supporting vulnerable children and working with local schools
- Set up and operating the Southend Coronavirus Action helpline with our community and voluntary partners
- Working with South Essex Homes and the voluntary sector to support citizens
- Launching the ‘Good Neighbours’ project to support people in need
- Supporting businesses and the local economy through the distribution of central Government grants and rate relief
- Providing support to individual residents and families in hardship
- Launching the ‘Don’t Visit Southend’ campaign to urge people to stay away from the seafront
I would like to thank council staff, colleagues in South Essex Homes, our partners in the health, police and fire services, local voluntary sector organisations, volunteers and our residents for everything they are doing. The response of our community to the coronavirus outbreak has been a great example of people pulling together to preserve life and ensure that the vulnerable in our communities are protected. We are also working to make sure our Borough will be ready to thrive again as we recover from this most difficult of periods.
The Council will continue to take action in response to this emergency. We will also keep our vital services running. We will continue to protect the most vulnerable people in this town, including those in receipt of care services and our vulnerable children. Social care and public health colleagues have done such amazing work during this difficult time for people. Our community hub and volunteers have played an invaluable role, delivering shopping, picking up medicines and arranging chats with people to reduce social isolation. Our community safety team has done great work alongside the Police to keep people safe and respond in those rare instances where rules are not being followed.
We will soon be launching a ‘good neighbours’ scheme for residents in Southend-on-Sea. I encourage people to get involved in this scheme and look out for your neighbours.
We are providing support to businesses by administering the coronavirus business grants and giving the business rates holidays that the government has announced. We have acted on government guidance and announcements to keep businesses going and to make sure they are in a good position to recover fully once the situation is over. We have so far paid the largest volume of business grants in South Essex.
“We have been establishing a hardship fund to provide support to individuals. We already have infrastructure in place to support the most vulnerable with financial assistance and we will build on the good work we already do.
Nobody could have predicted these circumstances a year ago which are without parallel in modern times. I am proud of the hard work and professionalism shown by council staff right through this organisation in dealing with the unprecedented challenges we face. I'm also profoundly grateful for the work of hundreds of volunteers who have signed up to support our community, and our residents doing great neighbourly deeds.
We can build on what we have learned during this time, how communities, voluntary groups, businesses and organisations have pulled together and collaborated in new and innovative ways. It gives me tremendous hope for the future of our amazing town.
The current events constitute a major economic shock, but we are already planning for the recovery from this crisis. We are planning how we can get our economy back up and running as quickly as Government instructions allow, and how we can deliver the investment that our town needs to thrive. I'm confident that our town will rebound to become stronger and more prosperous than ever. Stay safe and well.