Allerdale Borough Council is doing everything it can to continue to deliver key essential services to the public despite the restrictions and challenges brought about by efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. However, services may be delivered in different ways.
The council has put in place its business continuity plan which seeks to maintain delivering key public services as best as possible, whilst protecting customers and staff from infection and follow government advice to limit social contact.
The council is also gearing up to deliver some of the grants and financial support schemes outlined recently by the government, as well as help individuals who may face financial trouble if they are forced to stop working. It will also play a crucial role supporting the area’s community efforts.
Therefore, the council is planning to redeploy some staff to help with the extra workload.
The council has taken decisions to suspend some services so that staffing and resource can be freed up. Whilst every staff member is working really hard to ensure services remain as normal as possible, like many people, some employees are likely to have to self-isolate or be at home to look after their children.
Therefore, decisions have been taken to suspend or change the way the council delivers some services – such as suspending garden waste collections – to ensure key services are maintained. This is kept under constant review and any further changes will be announced as required.
The council advises residents to keep up to date via the council’s website, as well as sign up to the email newsletter service which is being provided through Cumbria County Council. More details on how to sign-up are available on the county council website.
Efforts have also been made to ensure everyone is acting on the government’s advice on social distancing and staying at home. The council’s Executive committee is leading by example, with regular meetings by teleconference to make decisions and stay up to date with the latest situation. The vast number of employees are also now working from home, and using teleconference services for meetings.
The council is also encouraging residents and businesses to use their website and app to access council services, having closed its customer contact centres to the public to help stop the spread of the disease and protect customers and staff.
The website provides a wealth of information, and customers can also report things via the online forms, check bin collection days and report a missed bin, and even apply for council tax or benefit support. The address is www.allerdale.gov.uk and the council’s ‘myAllerdale’ app can be downloaded from the Apple or Android app store.
The website has seen sharp rise in activity recently with the number of users more than doubling over the past week alone when compared with the previous year.
If customers need to contact a customer service advisor they should ring 0303 123 1702, or use the webchat facility.
Cllr Mike Johnson, Deputy Leader, said: “An enormous amount of work has gone into where we are today, and there is a lot to do. We’ve sought to limit the impact on our services but unfortunately some changes were inevitable given these unprecedented events. I hope that the public recognise and understand that we made difficult decisions to suspend certain services for the right reasons, as it means key services are maintained as much as possible, as well as ensure the health and well-being of our customers and staff is protected.
“I’ve also been immensely heartened by how the communities of Allerdale have come together to help each other in these challenging times as well as the close partnership working of all the organisations which are collectively working on the local response to tackle the spread of this virus. I call on everyone to heed the government’s advice and ensure they stay at home as much as possible, as by doing this we can all help protect the NHS and save lives.”
Cllr Alan Pitcher, Executive member with responsibility for emergency planning as well as health improvement, added: “Allerdale Borough Council, both councillors and staff, are working hard to ensure the council continues to function, providing essential services to customers and at the same time protecting the staff providing them.
“This is being done by staff working at home as much as possible, and making changes to meetings. Whilst these changes don’t make working easy, it’s really good to see that all the planning for such an event as this has been worthwhile.
“I’d also like to stress that as individuals we can do our own ‘bit’ and follow the government advice on social distancing, not gathering in groups, and not going to visit friends and family especially if you need to travel far and potentially spread the virus without knowing. We all need to take responsibility for our actions and together I hope we can halt the spread of this disease and ensure that our colleagues in the local hospital, who are working so hard, can continue to do their job as best as possible.”