Members were presented with a draft strategy on stabilisation, the period between response and recovery, following the COVID 19 outbreak. The strategy set out a general framework that would support a consistent and co-ordinated approach as the Council moved towards recovery. It was noted that the draft strategy was being presented to all Scrutiny Committees for comments before presentation to Cabinet on 30th July 2020 for approval.
Officers gave a brief overview of the content of the strategy, explaining that it was split into three sections which consisted of looking back at what the Council did during the response phase of the crisis, looking forward as the UK moved out of the response phase and a road map of actions.
When looking back at what the Council did during the response phase, it was highlighted that a number of key actions were undertaken including setting up a seven day a week communication service so that guidance from UK Government, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales could be sent out as and when it was available. It was added that the Council closed down services to assist in reducing the spread of the virus and changed the way some critical services operated in order to operate safely, for example the refuse service. Officers mentioned that the first part of the strategy also set out the changes that were made in relation to leadership and governance, including the use of the Urgency Action provision set out in the Constitution, to ensure that key decisions were still being taken during the response phase.
The second part of the strategy was explained to Members, which consisted of looking forward as the UK moved out of response phase into a stabilisation period which is the stage before moving into the recovery phase. It was explained that there were three areas identified as a focus as the Council moved forward:
The Test, Trace and Protect Programme
2. Standing up of Council services and functions
3. Understand and respond to the effect and impact that the virus has had on citizens, organisations and businesses across Neath Port Talbot
It was added that the second part also set out the changes required to be made in terms of leadership and governance, as well as some of the risks and issues identified that will need to managed as the Council goes through the implementation of the strategy.
The third part of the strategy was presented as a road map of actions which was framed on the basis of a traffic light system, which set out how to move from a position of total lockdown, through the traffic light system, to a position where services are back up and running. It was noted that a number of services on the road map fall within the remit of the Streetscene and Engineering Scrutiny Committee including transport, parking fees, parking enforcement and refuse and recycling.
Members asked how long the Llandarcy Field Hospital would be in situ, to which it was answered that Officers weren’t able to give a specific date at the moment, as they would be responding to Welsh Government Policy as and when its published, however the initial contract that the Health Board had with the land owner ran up until September with provisions in place to extend the contract should the need arise. It was mentioned that the hospital is capable of operating, but hadn’t operated to date.
Officers were asked why the Local Area Coordinators (LACs) were pulled from their roles in the Safe and Well Service, and where they went following this. It was noted that the LACs went back to Social Services to help the Directorates’ response with the increase of pressures there. In relation to the roles that the LACs undertook when they went back to the service, Officers agreed that they would find out and circulate to Members.