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Norfolk County Council coronavirus row rumbles on

A row over councillors being accused of taking credit for Norfolk's low rates of coronavirus shows little sign of letting up.

The county council’s ruling cabinet discussed a report about the “initial lessons learned” from the authority’s response to the Covid-19 crisis on Monday.

But last week, opposition group leaders accused the council’s Conservative-led administration of “backslapping” and deflecting scrutiny- which council leader Andrew Proctor strongly denied.

Norfolk County Council headquarters (3027764)
Norfolk County Council headquarters (3027764)

At yesterday's cabinet meeting, Mr Proctor said: “Let’s get away from this term. This is not about backslapping – it’s an appraisal of what’s been done and the learning which will continue.

“There’s no complacency. If we accept that Covid is going to be with us for some time, its a good point now to start the review.”

Deputy leader Graham Plant praised staff for their work procuring PPE and said: “I’ll do a bit of backslapping in this case. The suffering of people in Norfolk and in care homes was a priority so we made sure we got that PPE.”

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “I’m very proud of what’s been achieved.

And Greg Peck, member for assets, said: “We all deserve credit as do the people of Norfolk.”

But following the meeting, opposition leaders reiterated their criticisms of the cabinet report.

Liberal Democrat leader Steffan Aquarone said: “The council is set on marking its own homework when it comes to Covid.

"We must give a voice to residents, groups, and the community who stepped up to the mark – instead of the council operating in its own echo chamber. The time is now.”

And Labour leader Steve Morphew added: “There was no provision for school closures, no plans for widespread lockdown, no food resilience plans, no register of vulnerable people, inadequate plans for PPE, no structure for keeping in touch with care homes, and no access to detailed outbreak data.

"The best they can come up with is another report in three months by which time we could well be facing a second spike?”

Mr Proctor said: “The council responded as promptly and efficiently as it could to this fast-moving and unprecedented situation and has learnt lessons as we have gone along.

"The test is – did we work with our partners to keep the people of Norfolk as safe and supported as we could? And all the evidence, regardless of my own views, is that we did.

"I would rather keep this positive momentum going and be ready for any second wave or spikes in cases, rather than provide a political running commentary.”

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