To receive a verbal update on the Council’s ongoing recovery work resulting from the pandemic (Head of Strategy and Innovation) (20 minutes)
The Head of Strategy and Innovation gave an update on Covid-19 recovery and resilience. The recovery plan has evolved during the pandemic and the recovery response has been driven by work through key strategic partnerships through the Test Valley Partnership and through the Hampshire LRF.
It is important to continue work with the ‘Everybody In’ programme which supported homeless people and those at risk of homelessness due to the impact of covid. Continuing to administer track and trace self isolation payments, some 300 cases have been supported and it is anticipated that there will be an increase due to the omicron cases.
With regards to town centres and the local economy Environmental Health Protection Officers are under Plan B playing a supporting role in the enforcement of mask wearing etc in shopping centres and the main role of the Council is to look at recovery and how people can feel confident whilst shopping. The Council are working with the BID in Andover and the Town Centre Manager in Romsey to build confidence and promote events. A key element is the Welcome Back Fund allocated by Government to aid recovery. The parameters to allocate that fund was agreed by Cabinet and £62,000 was allocated to Andover, £30,000 and £20,000 to Stockbridge.
The Community Safety Manager has circulated a briefing note following a request from the Committee for information on the impact on community groups. The Council are not seeing any trends that Community groups are not able to operate or are struggling for volunteers but there will be local issues and the Council can ask partners to help out.
The Head of Strategy and Innovation highlighted the importance of community networks and the benefits from the Community Resilience Partnership.
From a service point of view the Council has continued to deliver all functions throughout the pandemic however there are some challenges around recruitment and skills. Most direct financial losses is recovering however car parking levels have not increased to pre pandemic levels.
The Council has played an important part in supporting the campaign around facilities for vaccinations.
Test Valley isn’t much different from anywhere else in the country. The rises in infections are in line with the national level. There has however been a large gap in the number of infections and hospitalisation. Boosters have been given to around 43% of the population in Test Valley.
The situation is evolving but we are in a better place to respond and support residents and businesses than this time last year. The Community Team are checking up on local support groups to ensure they are still running and available over Christmas with the projection of a high number of infections in the next few weeks.
There is also a targeting campaign around boosters in communities.
The recovery continues to go well and the Council are in a good place to manage the impact of the new variant together with their partners based on lessons learnt and existing networks.
· The Head of Strategy and Innovation will find out how much of the Welcome Back funding has been spent in Andover, Romsey and Stockbridge and how much remains.
· Walk in centres for booster vaccinations.
· The Chantry Centre vaccination centres are opening for longer hours and are doubling up on the number of vaccinations each day.
· Romsey has lost two groups from the support for the elderly and it was suggested that the Community Team can help support.