St Albans council outlines ‘robust’ action taken in coronavirus crisis

St Albans District Council discusses its coronavrius action at online cabinet meeting. Picture: St A

St Albans District Council discusses its coronavrius action at online cabinet meeting. Picture: St Albans District Council - Credit: Archant

“Robust” action taken by the district council in response to the coronavirus outbreak over the last few weeks has been debated in an online cabinet meeting.

Councillor Chris White, leader and portfolio holder for climate and emergency, said the council had worked with partner organisations to help residents and businesses.

He gave an update on the council’s efforts at an online meeting of the cabinet last Thursday.

“This has been an unprecedented challenge that has placed huge demands on all our public services and the key workers that maintain them,” he said.

“As a council, we have taken a number of robust and effective measures to help combat the impact of COVID-19. We have also worked closely with other local authorities, public agencies, charities and community groups as we are all in this together.”

The council is a category one responder, tasked by the government to carry out a number of civil protection duties.

During the past few weeks, the council has distributed around £17 million of government grants to 1,100 qualifying businesses in the district, including pubs and restaurants, with a further £6 million due to be sent out shortly. The money is non-repayable and intended to help the companies survive the crisis.

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It has also secured accommodation, with the help of Hightown Housing Association and charities, for all the district’s rough sleepers, ensuring they have somewhere safe to go.

Waste collection, recycling and street cleaning services have been maintain to ensure rubbish does not pile up at homes or on the streets.

A high number of new claims for Council Tax support, increased Housing Benefit payments for some claimants in privately rented accommodation and provided advice on other benefits like Job Seekers Allowance and Universal Credit.

Other actions from the council include free parking at its car parks to NHS staff and key workers, and helping with the administration of volunteer scheme run by Communities 1st.

Councillor White said: “I have been impressed with the support that the public has shown. Our bin crews, for instance, have been overwhelmed by the many thank-you messages they have received from people isolated at home.”

“They have come across countless notes left on bins while other residents have even put up homemade posters of support in their windows.

“That is that sort of community spirit, combined with the heroic efforts of those on the frontline, that will eventually get the district through this crisis.”