New Covid recovery group agreed

Aberdeenshire councillors have again reiterated their thanks and appreciation to staff and communities for their commitment to keeping people safe during the pandemic, whilst looking to the future with the creation of a reference group to support the transition to recovery.

The establishment of a Covid-19 Recovery Group was agreed at a special meeting of full council today (10th June 2020). The group will provide regular updates to Full Council and make recommendations to committees on plans to reintroduce and change services to focus support where it’s needed most. It will comprise 14 councillors with cross-party representation, supported by officers.

The Test and Protect programme, and potential localised outbreaks of the virus, are likely to affect staffing levels in the months ahead. Consideration will need to be given to how services adapt to meet future needs based on staffing levels and the considerable financial pressures facing the council.

Preparations are underway for the transition through the Government Route Map, to achieve the safe and appropriate reintroduction of public services. Teams are being encouraged to be innovative in their thinking, to deliver services in the future differently and for less.

Some services have already begun to step back up, including the Household Waste and Recycling Centres and some grass cutting. Services must ensure they follow strict public health guidance to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

Leader of the Council, Jim Gifford welcomed the report. He said: “The council is still in response but each day, we’re seeing the situation improving. The council has responded to this crisis superbly and we’ve seen our communities step up to help us and each other also. We are starting to see services reopen but the future is going to look very different. I welcome the cross-council effort, and our role in this group is to work at pace so we are able to keep ahead of the changes.”

Cllr Peter Argyle also gave thanks and praise to council staff saying: “I am exceptionally proud of how they have responded to the crisis. We have serious challenges ahead, with significant social and economic impacts. We are going to need to explore new ways of working and it’s important that all councillors are involved.”

Cllr Gwyneth Petrie said: “The task ahead is significant. I also recognise and appreciate the work of the council and the Health & Social Care Partnership. Our regeneration areas are going to be particularly hard hit and it is important that we work collaboratively to provide support to our communities who need it most.”

The first meeting of the Recovery Group takes place next week, and will then meet regularly through until January, at which time it’s role will be reviewed.