The leader of Durham County Council has outlined the steps it has taken to “provide community leadership and support to our communities in what are truly unprecedented, uncertain and challenging times for everyone.”
Cllr Simon Henig addressed a meeting of the authority’s cabinet on Wednesday, on its response to continuously emerging government guidance aimed at limiting the spread of Coronavirus.
The council has announced the closure of all its leisure centres, libraries and venues until further notice, and the cancellation or postponement of all events organised by the authority until at least the end of April.
The full council meeting planned for next Wednesday 25 March will not convene and all other meetings this month have been cancelled, with the situation around meetings to be reviewed at the end of March.
Cllr Henig told Cabinet: “The current situation will, without doubt, test and stretch our ability to deliver services to the maximum.
“We are working tirelessly to plan and deal with the impact of the Coronavirus – with an absolute focus on protecting and maintaining services for vulnerable adults, children and other priority services our communities rely on.
“We are working closely with our partners locally and across the region and following national guidance which is changing very quickly from day to day.”
The council Leader continued: “A great thing about County Durham is our strong local communities and we have had many approaches with offers and ideas relating to volunteering, with some fantastic examples of things that are happening to support local communities across the county.
“The council recognises the important role the community and voluntary sector organisations play in supporting people and is working to put in place a series of measures through our Area Action Partnerships in partnership with key voluntary sector organisations to help us through this difficult time.
“We recognise that when people are in isolation, they are going to need support and assistance and for many this will be provided by friends and family. Where this is not possible, it is important we all act as good citizens and neighbours for those we live alongside. Consequently, we are actively promoting the good neighbour approach, co-ordinating activity through the AAPs so there is a focus on local need.”
Cllr Henig added: “We are very conscious also of the impact economically for local people, families and businesses and the associated effects this can have on well-being.
“We are committed to supporting communities and businesses as part of this work and we will implement any government backed initiatives as quickly as possible once we receive the detail of the support for businesses announced. We are also looking at how the council can support local communities through these very challenging times and what we can do now to support the county’s longer-term recovery…
“Our success in County Durham has been achieved through working in partnership and it is more important than ever that we work together to protect our most vulnerable residents and our communities the very best we can.”