Fringe Box



Leader Bigmore Warns of a ‘Long Winter’ as Tier Two Arrives on Borough Border

Published on: 23 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 24 Oct, 2020

Council leader Joss Bigmore has warned fellow councillors “more strict measures seem likely to hit at some point” in the Covid-19 pandemic. At this week’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting (October 20) he said “…it feels like it is going to be a long winter”.

“The council leader, explaining his statement, told The Dragon: “If the infection rate continues to climb, Guildford Borough moving to Tier 2 is possible but the criteria on which such decisions are taken is unclear.

“But if we keep looking after each other we will get through the winter.”

The council was reminded that Elmbridge borough, which borders Guildford borough to the north-east has been moved into Tier Two. Later, James Whiteman, GBC managing director, pointed out that borough boundaries were not barriers to infection.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Cllr Bigmore’s said: “The council’s response to Covid continues to be effective and targeted at our original aims of protecting the NHS, supporting the most vulnerable during this pandemic, playing our part in keeping our community healthy, being an active and supportive partner of the Local Resilience Forum, and supporting and enabling business recovery.

“I think we are all aware of news around the country and certainly more locally in Elmbridge. More strict measures seem to be likely to hit at some point but at the moment we are still at the lowest rating [tier].

“On the positive side, the university has done a great job working with the students to keep the cases relatively low there and I think we can be quite grateful that going back to school has been relatively smooth.

“There have been some incidents but nowhere near as bad as some people feared. So there are some positives out there but it feels like it is going to be a long winter.

“So I think we need to keep focusing and we’ll all get through this working together. The [council] officers continue to do an admirable job and we should be very proud of them.”
Mr Whiteman gave a short slide show listing the key issues faced by the council and the community.

He also listed the measurement indicators that would be included to chart the borough’s recovery, inviting councillors to comment if they felt they should be corrected.

Mr Whiteman added that, sadly: “There have been 97 Covid-related deaths in Guildford borough to date as of October 2.”

The council plan is being updated to incorporate new alert levels, he said.

James Whiteman, managing director GBC

“We are now administering the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme for those on low incomes,” he went on. “If you cannot work from home after being told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you are on benefits and will lose income while self-isolating, you can now apply for a grant of £500.

“We have been awarded £56,000 for Covid Marshals from central government. The funding is to support compliance with social distancing in public places and engage, explain and encourage best practices in businesses.

“The money is to be spent over the next four months. We are planning how to most effectively use the funding and more information will to follow soon.”

GBC continues to deliver Meals on Wheels, food parcels and prescriptions to the very vulnerable. Day centres are open with limited capacity to ensure they are Covid-safe. To complement and support the reduced capacity in the day centres, the council has also started outreach work to provide extra support and contact for residents.

See also: Local Covid-19 Stats

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