West Norfolk Council to cancel meetings due to increased pressure on resources during the pandemic
Increasing pressure on council resources has led to the decision to suspend some meetings at the West Norfolk Council for all February and provisionally for March 2021.
Meetings that will be cancelled are:
• Corporate Performance Panel
• Regeneration & Development Panel
• Environment & Community Panel – meeting on 26 January 2021 will be held
• King's Lynn Area Consultative Committee – meeting cancelled on 28 January
• Local Plan Task Group
• Member Major Projects – meeting cancelled on 27 January 2021
• Audit cross party working group – meeting cancelled on 27 January 2021
Lorraine Gore, Chief Executive of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, explained: "The council is providing a large-scale response to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Cases in west Norfolk are considerably higher than in the first wave last spring, due to the new variant of the virus spreading much more quickly.
"We are carrying out a wide range of tasks which are significantly challenging our available resources. These include, but are not limited to, enhanced contact tracing, Covid marshals visits, regular patrols to monitor adherence to the rules and provide support and advice to businesses, assessing, processing and paying 19 different types of covid-related grants, additional communications working with school, parishes and other partners, support for the vulnerable through our LILY team, and delivering on the homelessness ‘everyone in’ scheme.
"We are also responding to requests for assistance from other partners, including involvement in a public health pilot for asymptomatic testing, supporting the CCG with the vaccination programme and responding to requests for support from the QEH.
"These activities have necessitated the redeployment of staff whilst attempting to maintain our frontline services.We also have to manage self-isolation of our own staff.
"In addition to this response work we are at this time still having to prepare for elections on the 6 May 2021. Preparation work for an election at any time is resource intensive, but to prepare for an election during a pandemic is a whole different challenge. Until or unless the Government decide that the elections will be deferred until later, we will have to continue the preparation work, with the consequent impact on staffing resources."
Group leaders at the council have supported the Chief Executive's request to suspend some meetings in order to release additional resources to focus on the response to the pandemic.The Leader of the council has agreed to accept and respond to questions at Cabinet from Members attending under Standing Order 34 for any reports that need to go to Cabinet during this period and this has been agreed.
The following meetings will continue as timetabled:
• Audit Committee
• Planning Committee
• KLACC planning sub-group which comment on major planning applications
Lorraine Gore, added: "This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I have to balance the demands on our limited resources as we continue to respond in the battle against the pandemic and support our west Norfolk communities and businesses.
"We all have a joint ambition for west Norfolk to be in the best possible position at the end of this current national lockdown and for Norfolk to exit into a lower tier than when we entered lockdown.
"I would also like to thank all staff and our contracted waste management crew for their continued effort in response to the pandemic and for keeping day-to-day services operating where possible.It really has been a Herculean effort."
During the first wave of the pandemic, no meetings were held.