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Covid-19 'biggest thing' West Norfolk Council has dealt with, says leader as authority looks to recovery plans

The leader of West Norfolk Council has said Covid-19 is the “single biggest and most difficult thing” the authority has had to deal with, as their recovery plans were discussed this week.

Brian Long made the comments at the council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday, when members agreed that the authority’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy should be recommended to full council for approval.

Honor Howell, assistant director at the council, told the meeting that they had been focusing on their response to the pandemic in the past few months, and they now “need to look at how we move forward into a future and the areas that we need to focus on”.

King's Court. Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk.. (37640532)
King's Court. Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk.. (37640532)

Ms Howell said the work would be linked with their corporate plan which was signed off in January.

“I think most of the work in it is still very relevant, but of course it could be affected greatly by different things within the authority such as finances, resources and priorities following the Covid outbreak,” she said.

She added that it is a “moving feast” due to the possibility of Government guidelines changing, and she said there are two “streams” to the work – one focusing on the council itself and how it recovers, and the other on how to help businesses, communities and visitors “get back on track”.

Alexandra Kemp told the meeting that she felt the health side of things was important, in particular due to how the Covid-19 outbreak affected people in West Norfolk, which had a higher infection rate compared to other districts in the county.

“I do think that we need to take responsibility for health,” she said.

“I understand there is a sub-committee which has been set up by the health and wellbeing board for districts and I think that needs to take a leading role in this and we need to look at how we address the underlying causes of Covid deaths in this area, which we know were diabetes, obesity and lung disease because we are a very deprived area, and we need to really focus on this as a council.”

Richard Blunt, cabinet member for development, said the council “must get to the bottom of deprivation issues and how we can tackle them”.

He said: “We need to ensure this sort of thing can’t happen again and one of the ways to do that is to improve our deprivation level across all the aspects.”

Chris Morley added that he wished to see a focus on learning opportunities and aspirations.

Ms Howell said the council had already been working on these matters prior to Covid-19, and that they will be included in the strategy.

And Adrian Lawrence, cabinet member for housing, said the authority would “continue to work with partners and learn from events”.

The cabinet agreed to recommend to full council that the strategy be adopted.

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