The Panel are to receive the Recovery Report.
Contact:J Lancaster 01480 388300
With the aid of a report by the Managing Director (a copy of which has been appended in the Minute Book) the impact of Covid-19 on Huntingdonshire and the recovery planning was presented to the Panel.
After a presentation by the Managing Director, Councillor Giles asked what the current situation regarding rough sleepers was. In response it was explained that the Government have extended the funding and that the latest efforts would be focused on stabilising the lives of the homeless and finding permanent solutions.
The second question asked by Councillor Giles was whether the District Council could collaborate with local schools and provide empty rooms for classes so that pupils could be taught in safe socially distant settings. Members were reminded that education and schools is primarily the remit of Cambridgeshire County Council but also a high number of schools are academies and are part of academy networks which have their own solutions.
Following a query from Councillor Wakeford, it was confirmed that the Community Impact Assessment, which is an appendix of the Recovery Report, is an evolving document that will assist Officers when assessing how to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and the necessary steps that need to be taken.
Councillor Roberts asked about mobile phone coverage and stated that is has to be a priority as mobile phones are important for some businesses to function and, for others residents, during lockdown has been sometimes the only connection to the outside world. The Panel was informed that there is a project called Connecting Cambridgeshire and that Officers know where the areas of poor signals are. This in turn is important in addressing if Huntingdonshire is to become a digital economy.
Councillor Alban asked what preparations the Council has made with the Parish Councils in order to get them prepared for a second wave. In response the Managing Director stated that building relationships with Parish Councils is an activity that the Council have spent a lot of time on but there is further consideration to be done on how the broader parish base feeds into the recovery.
Councillor Tysoe questioned what the timescales for the recovery plan are and how will it be put together. Members were informed that the recovery plan is currently being drafted and a proactive stance is being taken. Officers will work on the draft recovery plan and one will be ready in the autumn but that this will be caveated under the assumption there aren’t local spikes or lockdowns.
The confidence of the data was questioned by Councillor Wakeford, however the Panel was reassured that they could have the highest confidence in the data. In addition, the Managing Director added that there are not many gaps but where there are is because the data hasn’t been prepared prior to the publication of the report. The aim of the data is to get it in the lowest units possible so that the Council can understand how Covid-19 has affected each town and village and form recovery plans based on the data.
A discussion ensued regarding broadband provision within Huntingdonshire and Councillor Chapman stated that if the District was to differentiate itself from other areas then it would need to become more technologically advanced and install full fibre broadband. Councillor Chapman argued that this, in turn, would attract more people and businesses to the District.
Following a query from Councillor Gardener on micro businesses, Members were informed that all information and assistance for businesses can be found at the WeAreHuntingdonshire website.
Councillor Gaskin commended Officers on the communication the Council has had with residents during the Covid-19 pandemic and has encouraged Officers to continue to explore all avenues of communication with all residents.
1) to accept the Community Impact Assessment as a comprehensive summary of the impacts of Covid-19 on Huntingdonshire, and
2) to support the Council in the construction of recovery plans based on the themes of economy, environment, social and community.