VIDEO: Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden says it is vital to carry on delivering services and protecting the vulnerable in the community as the council implements changes to face-to-face services and public meetings in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
During a live video interview with warrington-worldwide Cllr Bowden said: “We have to ensure we can carry on supporting people in our community in the coming months and we have to keep the show on the road working with our partners.”
He also paid tribute to the many volunteers and groups in the local community providing support services for the vulnerable and the elderly “following the strong voluntering tradition” in Warrington.
Cllr Bowden also paid tribute to the council staff who are continuing to deliver vital services across the town.
Meanwhile the council has announced a review of services and taken the decision to make some changes to current arrangements to protect staff and residents and to direct resources to the most vital services.
From 5pm on Thursday 19 March, face to face services at Contact Warrington on Horsemarket Street and New Town House will close to the public. Reception and face to face services will remain available on an appointment basis only at New Town House.
Residents and customers can still contact the council. Visit warrington.gov.uk/contactus or call 01925 443322.
The main register office on Museum Street is now closed to all non-urgent enquiries and will only be open for pre-booked appointments.
There will also be some restrictions in place at the office, including restricting the number of next of kin present in interview rooms when registering a death to two people.
The council is also temporarily limiting notice of marriage/civil partnership appointments to those that are already scheduled to take place this year.
Cllr Bowden, added: “As the outbreak of coronavirus progresses, services will be disrupted for the foreseeable future. Our priority is to protect our most vulnerable residents during this difficult time and to try to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We are following and reviewing government guidance to make sure that we are able to respond to the latest advice. We are working closely with our partners and providers to ensure that resources are diverted to the most critical services and to prioritise those most at risk, and in need of care and support.
“We are also asking for the support of local people to try to ensure that together, those who are most vulnerable, are looked after and receive the care they need.”
We have also taken steps relating to council meetings up to the end of the current civic year, on 25 May.
The meeting of the full council, scheduled for 23 March, will not be held and essential business will be deferred to a future meeting, or dealt with in an alternative way. The only meetings to take place until the end of the civic year are:
•Cabinet – 6 April
•Development Management Committee – 1 April and 22 April
•Scrutiny Committee – if required
•Licensing Committee – there are currently no meetings scheduled
Cllr Bowden continued: “We are in uncharted territory and must respond appropriately to this developing situation. We must ensure that the council continues to function effectively in the coming months and that we can best serve the needs of Warrington residents. We will ensure that the necessary meetings proceed, either through digital means or by appropriate social distancing.”
“We are currently awaiting government guidance and legislation about the management of any vacancies and by-elections, ahead of the local elections in May 2021. We are also awaiting national guidance regarding the annual council meeting, planned for 26 May, its potential deferment and any impact on the council, including arrangements for the next mayoral year.”
For the latest information on coronavirus in Warrington, please visit warrington.gov.uk/coronavirus