The second national lockdown has again brought into sharp focus the need for all councils to stay agile and connected with their partners, as we head through the second wave and hopefully, into supporting a national programme of mass vaccination in the New Year.
While some features of Lockdown 2.0 are very different, what has not changed is the critical role of councils as place leaders in supporting their vulnerable residents and businesses during very challenging times. This time round, when the Prime Minister made his announcement, resilient multi-agency systems and practices of support and enforcement were already embedded and operating at place level across Great Yarmouth, Norfolk and the wider region, with councils, NHS bodies, the police, business groups and voluntary community and social enterprise organisations all working together closely and flexibly.
As a multi-agency team, we successfully managed complex settings and responded swiftly to rising transmission rates within our wider community, implementing a plan of concerted communications and engagement which saw the spike stabilise in Great Yarmouth. We have shared our learning and communications materials with other Norfolk districts, which supported us in our time of need and have since faced similar situations.
During this second lockdown, while the Government has asked councils to specifically support the extremely clinically vulnerable and offer temporary accommodation to rough sleepers, multi-agency support remains available across Norfolk for anyone in need.
Back in the spring, and despite significant resource demands, we took the decision to drive ahead with our area-based agenda of economic regeneration and growth. We are awaiting the outcome of our bid to the Future High Streets Fund to regenerate our town centre and we’re finalising our submission for a Town Deal of up to £25m to help deliver our town investment plan.
It is how councils recover that will make the biggest difference in the longer-term.
Sheila Oxtoby is chief executive officer of Great Yarmouth BC