Blackpool Council Leader Simon Blackburn has issued the following statement concerning the council's response to the Coronavirus crisis.
As you would anticipate, significant amounts of work has been undertaken in recent days and weeks, in relation to the above. I have had the opportunity, via the Local Government Association, to hear directly from the Chief Executive of Public Health England, who has briefed council leaders in detail on PHE’s view of the situation.
Needless to say, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and we shall all need to remain alert to further council, government and PHE advice, as the days and weeks go by.
My responsibility is to ensure that the council continues to operate, and offer Leadership, whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in.
In addition to the ongoing daily liaison between the council, Public Health England and our emergency planning teams, there are a number of other activities and work-streams underway.
- Daily communication meetings to ensure that the information we are issuing to staff and the general public is consistent and in line with Public Health England guidance.
- Our Director of Public Health is in regular contact with Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer. Both he and the Director of Adult Services are members of the weekly Fylde Coast COVID 19 health economy planning meeting.
- A Blackpool Council COVID 19 planning/response group (including our arms-length companies) has been formed and meets every Monday, chaired by the Director of Public Health.
- We are playing an active role in the Lancashire Resilience Forum which is meeting on a regular basis.
- The Chief Executive of Blackpool Council and myself have been in direct communication with the secretary of state.
- The Corporate Business Continuity Plan, which sets out the critical functions for the council has been reviewed. Particular attention has been paid to the Property and ICT functions to allow for greater numbers of people home working. Measures are also incorporated to ensure that we can continue to protect the most vulnerable.
- Business continuity plans for each service have also been reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose.
- Within council buildings we are undertaking additional cleaning and replenishing hand washing facilities on a regular basis. The council has ordered additional alcohol sanitiser for distribution to frontline workers and public facing areas
- A briefing note has been provided to Customer First to deal with enquiries from members of the public. The content of this is being reviewed on a regular basis as the situation evolves and government guidance changes.
- We are not taking any pre-emptive action in terms of cancellation of events or closure of venues at this stage. We are following the advice of government and Public Health England and advising venues and attractions to do the same. We are mindful of the potential negative impact on our local tourism economy as the situation changes and we are in discussion with government expert advisors as to how we deal with this scenario.
- Any members of staff from an identified area of infection have been asked to self-isolate.
- The same advice outlined above has been given to our own companies, partners and through all of our media channels.
I have had informal discussions with the Leader of the Opposition, in relation to council meetings. We have agreed that we will follow the advice of our Director of Public Health, alongside advice from Public Health England. If it should become necessary to curtail or cancel some or all formal meetings of the council, we will endeavour to seek virtual consent from the four Party leaders, for any decisions that need to be made as a matter of urgency. The Executive decision making function should remain unaltered.
The next formal full council meeting is Annual Council in May. At present, it is anticipated that the virus may peak around this time. If need be, that meeting can be postponed, but a decision will be taken in consultation with Party leaders nearer the time, if necessary.