To update the Executive on the COVID-19 crisis and the Council’s response, and to seek approval to a proposed Recovery Plan.
The Executive considered a report providing an update on the COVID-19 crisis and the Council’s response, and seeking approval to a proposed Recovery Plan.
The following comments/questions were raised by Members during the debate on the report:
· The Chair reported that the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had been allocated £16.8Million from the Government’s Building Back Better Fund. She was pleased to report that a number of Stevenage schemes were towards the top of the LEP’s list, and so more detailed work would be progressed in support of those schemes;
· The Chair advised that, despite the production of Local Outbreak Plans, only the Government had powers to impose local lockdowns The countywide Elected Member Engagement Board was seeking further advice from the Government regarding trigger points for the imposing and lifting of local lockdowns;
· The responsibility for enforcing Covid-19 safe business workplace environments rested with the Health & Safety Executive, who would engage local authority support if required;
· The Chair was pleased to report that the last COVID-19 patient in the Lister Hospital Intensive Care Unit had been discharged earlier in the week;
· The Chair confirmed that free parking for NHS workers would continue at Corey’s Mill for the foreseeable future;
· Contrary to the Prime Minister’s recent comments in this regard, the Chair wished to recognise the professionalism and commitment of staff employed in Care Homes, especially during the current pandemic;
· In relation to the COVID-19 death statistics by Ward set out in Paragraph 3.14.6 of the report, the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods & Co-operative Working asked if this information could be provided to all Members. Associated with this request, the Assistant Director (Communities & Neighbourhoods) was requested to prepare a report for submission to the next Coronavirus Emergency Committee providing details of the recovery activities taking place in each Ward;
· It was noted that the Council’s Business Relationship Manager had prepared and sent out a questionnaire to businesses in Stevenage requesting feedback on the impact on them of the pandemic; and
· The Chair asked that the Public Health Dashboard of COVID-19 statistical information be submitted to the next meeting of the Coronavirus Emergency Committee.
In considering information regarding the proposed reopening of Stevenage Old Town, the Executive agreed extra recommendations in respect of: potential locations for additional outdoor space and pavement seating; the provision of suitable barriers between the highway and those outdoor space/pavement seating areas; ensuring that appropriate wheelchair/pushchair access be maintained; ensuring that disabled parking facilities be protected; and the provision of 3 hours free parking in the former Waitrose Car Park for the next six months.
The Executive supported the Chair’s proposed further additional recommendation that the Council’s formal thanks be conveyed to the North & East Hertfordshire Hospital Trust for all that the Trust’s staff had done to support Stevenage residents throughout the pandemic.
It was RESOLVED:
1. That the current position and the Council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since the last report to the May 2020 Executive meeting be noted.
2. That the recovery phase approach, as set out in Section 4.13 of the report, and the Town and Council recovery plans attached at Appendices 4 and 5 to the report respectively, be approved.
3. That delegated authority be granted to the Strategic Director (TP), after consultation with the Leader, to make revisions to the Recovery Plan as required during the recovery phase.
4. That, in relation to the proposed reopening of Stevenage Old Town:
(i) Working co-operatively with Stevenage Old Town Business Partnership, the following locations be considered for additional outdoor space and pavement seating:
· Space outside Lavish / Angelic
· Around Costa Coffee / Ice Cream area;
· Middle Row (car park North of Middle Row);
· Northern part of the High Street.
(ii) Suitable barriers be provided between the highway and those additional outdoor space and pavement seating areas referred to in (i) above;
(iii) Appropriate wheelchair/pushchair access be maintained;
(iv) Disabled parking facilities be protected; and
(v) In order to replace lost parking capacity in the Old Town area, 3 hours free car parking be offered in the former Waitrose Car Park for the next six months, and reviewed thereafter.
5. That the Council’s formal thanks be conveyed to the North & East Hertfordshire Hospital Trust for all that the Trust’s staff had done to support Stevenage residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reason for Decision: As contained in report; and 4. To support the proposed reopening of Stevenage Old Town; and 5. To place on record the Council’s thanks to the Trust.
Other Options considered: As contained in report.