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Coronavirus: Emergency response chief steps down as West Norfolk Council announces move into 'recovery'

A West Norfolk councillor who was appointed to head the authority's response to the coronavirus crisis is stepping down as the authority moves into a new 'recovery' phase.

Stuart Dark says the move is the right one as council activity stabilises following the initial phase of the pandemic.

The announcement came as the authority revealed it was turning its focus towards recovery from the impact of the virus and after a further easing of lockdown restrictions was outlined.

King's Court. Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk.. (34663046)
King's Court. Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk.. (34663046)

Mr Dark was appointed to a temporary role as a cabinet member for emergency planning and Covid-19 response in April, around the peak of the outbreak.

He paid tribute to senior officers and council staff and contractors, 80 per cent of whom are classed as key workers, for their response to the crisis.

He added: “I have discussed with the leader of the council that as we move from our emergency response into the recovery phase, now is the right time for me to step back from my temporary cabinet position as places are opening up, council activity is stabilising and infection rates are low.”

Stuart Dark
Stuart Dark

Council leader Brian Long thanked Mr Dark for his "tireless" work and said his experience had been vital during the crisis.

He confirmed that a community messaging platform set up by Mr Dark to inform councillors and parish councils of key developments will remain in place.

And he added: “The road to recovery in west Norfolk may take some time as we all adapt to the new normal and Cllr Dark will continue to give his valuable input into that.

"But it is right that as we now move out of the ‘emergency’ and into ‘recovery’, that cabinet members and the Chief Executive lead the ‘recovery’ of respective portfolios.

"I would also like to thank all the community groups, businesses and individual volunteers for the community spirit they have shown in supporting the people of west Norfolk during the emergency phase it has been truly staggering and heartwarming.”

North West Norfolk MP James Wild also paid tribute to Mr Dark's contribution.

He said: "There has been a huge effort across the Council and I pay tribute to everyone for all the work they have done to support vulnerable individuals and ensure that businesses got the grants they needed.

"As we continue on the road to recovery, the Council has a vital role to play and it is crucial that we all remain vigilant and follow the social distancing guidance and rules as we re-open the economy.”

The authority has also confirmed that the current limits on bin collections, which saw food caddy collections suspended in April, will remain in place until social distancing measures are relaxed.

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