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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Full Council: Living with Covid-19 and building back better

Thursday, 23 July 2020

This Tuesday we held our summer meeting of Full Council, the second of these meetings to be held completely virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The meeting heard from the new Civic Mayor of Tameside, Cllr Janet Cooper, who made the first ever virtual Mayor’s announcements. Despite the current restrictions she has been busy representing Tameside, including at the memorial service for victims of Covid-19 at Manchester Cathedral. I would also add thanks to Cllr Leigh Drennan for his service and commitment to the role over the past year.

I think it would be fair to say that when we made our plans for 2020, nobody would have expected things to turn out as they have. But once again, the solidarity and courage of Tameside’s communities has shone through. That includes our key workers who kept our health and social care running, to the council officers who kept performing the often unglamorous but necessary jobs to keep our borough running, to the volunteers who organised emergency support to those most in need. Their tireless efforts have carried us through the worst of the pandemic, and I really cannot thank them enough.

I only wish that this had been matched by a helping hand from central government, but as I made clear at Full Council, I have a duty to say that I have been left disappointed and frustrated by their action, or lack of in many cases. In comparison the response in other countries in Europe and Asia, we have fallen behind too often in areas such as provision of PPE and setting up an effective test and trace system. The cost may end up being counted in thousands of lives lost in our hospitals, in our care homes and in our communities. 

As you might expect, the motions discussed at the Full Council meeting largely focused on the next steps to rebuild our economy and society after the coronavirus pandemic. The first, moved by Councillor Oliver Ryan, reemphasised the financial challenges faced by councils up and down the country. While the government has provided some additional funding, amounting to approximately £7.7 million for the Council, the latest findings from the Local Government Association show at least £6 billion more may be required across the local government sector from the impact of the pandemic alone. The motion calls upon the government to provide the necessary funding not just to close this gap, but to also provide our key workers with the improvements in pay and working conditions that they deserve. The motion was unanimously carried with support from all councillors.

The second motion, moved so emotionally and bravely by Councillor Eleanor Willis, commits us to cracking down on this scourge of domestic abuse in Tameside. One of the most troubling consequences of the lockdown is that the police in England and Wales have recorded an 8% increase in these crimes compared with the same period last year. This has translated into a rise of emergency calls to emergency helplines that has gone as high as 300% at times, dramatic increases in internet searches for support for those affected by violence and, in the most horrific cases, higher numbers of murders. There are a wide range of organisations and council services that work with local residents affected by domestic abuse, and we have called upon the government to build on the recent passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill through Parliament by providing the sustainable funding that they need to keep doing this vital work. We also want to see the protections of the Act extended to children and migrant women, and the Council will continue working with our partners in the city region to prosecute and, if possible, rehabilitate offenders. The motion was also carried unanimously with full support from all councillors.

Finally, while our monitoring data suggests that the spread of coronavirus has been contained for the moment, the threat of infection, and even death, still remains very real. I would ask you to keep taking all necessary precautions, including wearing face coverings in public and in shops, avoiding large crowds of people and practicing good hygiene at all times as well as observing social distancing. Rest assured that we will not hesitate to take whatever action is necessary to keep protecting residents and businesses in the borough.

Posted by: Executive Leader

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