BRADFORD Council’s Executive today discussed the district’s continuing response to the Covid-19 emergency to ensure people continue to get the support and services they need.

A report providing an update on the fast-changing situation was tabled at an unusual meeting of the Executive, which was conducted by telephone between the portfolio holders and senior officers given the need to ensure physical distancing.

Even overnight the report, which had been completed the evening before, became out of date with the Prime Minister’s announcement at 8.30pm the previous evening that there should be a 'lockdown' and that people should leave their houses for just once a day for exercise or essential groceries.

Executive members asked questions of the Chief Executive Kersten England as they sought assurances across the areas they are responsible for that the comprehensive plans which have been put in place are being successfully implemented, and that the response is being continually adjusted to meet changing circumstances.

CORONAVIRUS: Visiting stopped at Bradford hospitals

Council Leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe thanked the general public, volunteers, Council staff, charities and partner organisations for the huge district-wide effort.

She repeated that the Council’s priority is to protect the most vulnerable and to ensure everyone has the support they need, as the Executive received updates on how essential Council services are being kept running, and that support for the vulnerable is the key priority.

The Executive members were briefed on the latest situation, including looking after older people, including those in care homes, child safeguarding, schools and meals provision, food banks, homeless people, community hubs, business grants and key workers who are putting themselves on the front line of the response.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, received assurances that the authority is working with care homes to protect older and vulnerable people and she requested that everything possible is done to ensure health and care staff have the right personal protective equipment needed to do their jobs safely, given the difficulties currently faced by every local authority in the country in sourcing it.

Councillors Imran Khan and Adrian Farley repeated their insistence that the safety of children and young people across the district be maintained and that those children and families who need food are getting it.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Executive for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, pressed on measures in place for the support of homeless people in Bradford.

He also received assurances that the business support announced by Government will be paid in to businesses’ bank accounts at the earliest possible opportunity.

Councillor Abdul Jabar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, set out the plans for a well co-ordinated volunteer response with a new council-led network of community hubs which will act as a base to serve each area of the district.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “I want to say thank you to the people and organisations of the district for doing all they can to rise to this unprecedented challenge.

"The resolve, determination and kindness of the people of this district is what will get us through.

“Now more than ever we need to listen to the strong Public Health messages about this virus. We must all stay at home as much as possible. Only venture out if you are a key worker who can’t work from home or if you need food or essentials, but do so as infrequently as possible and stay at least two metres from anyone else.

“The Council is working round the clock as part of a mammoth team effort with partners to provide essential services and get support out to those who need it most. We are continually adjusting and co-ordinating this response so that all communities get the support they need.”

Councillor Imran Khan, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “I want to thank teachers and school staff who are doing a fantastic job at this incredibly challenging time by looking after vulnerable children and the children of key workers. 205 schools and maintained nurseries in the district opened yesterday and although it will be an ever changing picture people can be reassured that we have sufficient flexibility and capacity in the system for that invaluable service to continue.”