Column by the leader of Stroud District Council, Doina Cornell.

Following the government’s announcements on Monday and a briefing from the local government minister we have had more of a steer as to what local government needs to be doing to meet the challenge of COVID-19.

All SDC council meetings have been cancelled so officers can focus on the most urgent services, supporting the community and our most vulnerable residents. A great deal of preparation is going on by our local frontline services and has been for some time. I can only speak for what SDC has been doing but this includes, making preparations for as many officers as needed to be able to work from home, so phones and online systems can keep functioning, mapping out which staff have caring responsibilities, with plans to ensure the most important council services keep running. SDC is an active member of the Local Resilience Forum, the main coordinating group which brings together our key frontline public services and emergency services. A top priority is putting in provisions to support our most vulnerable residents. SDC is also working now to ensure we have this in place: support for businesses around the government proposals on rates relief and grants; support for our tenants and for people on benefits.

We need national and local government and grassroots all working together to help. Government has asked local councils and LRFs specifically to help coordinate all the new community groups so that we have a hub which brings everyone together in one place (not literally of course!). Importantly, we need mapping of all the local efforts to ensure no one is missed, and make sure safeguarding is in place for our most vulnerable people. It is heartening to see how so many people are stepping up to help their neighbours. Thank you all for all you are doing.