Devon County Council leader John Hart today pledged the authority will do whatever it can to support residents and communities through the Coronavirus outbreak.
“This is an unprecedented situation and many residents will be deeply worried about themselves, their families and how they are going to cope over the coming weeks,” he said.
“I want to assure everyone that the whole council is working flat out alongside our partners in the NHS, districts and others to make sure we put everything we can in place to help people through this.
“We will do everything it takes to keep our care system fully functioning and ease the immense pressure our hospitals are facing.
“We are working with schools, nurseries and colleges to provide the care and support our key workers need to continue in their vital roles.
“We will redeploy our own staff and resources as necessary to help keep essential services up and running.
“And we will work with the Local Enterprise Partnership to support and advise local businesses via the Growth Hub as best we can.
“Our people and communities are already demonstrating the strong community spirit which has helped us through previous crises.
“All across the County, town and parish councils and community groups are setting up volunteer schemes to keep an eye on their more vulnerable neighbours.
“I know many of us who remain healthy and mobile are already offering our support and I urge more people to do the same.
“I am happy to pledge that Devon County Council will work alongside districts, towns and parishes, the voluntary sector and local businesses to help build on and support this emerging community response to help those people who are vulnerable, housebound or self-isolating.
“Devon has a strong community spirit and by pulling together and supporting one another we will overcome this crisis – however long it takes.”
Other actions include:
- A suspension of non-urgent council meetings (pending a relaxation of government rules on democratic processes)
- A move to digital invoicing for the council’s suppliers to ensure quick payment and help cash flow for local businesses.
- The physical closure of library buildings to the public and suspension of mobile library services and events. Loan periods are being relaxed and access to digital books is being extended.
- A relaxation of rules relating to bus passes to enable older people to access shops before 9.30 and enable people to take advantage of dedicated shopping times for older people being offered by some supermarkets.
Details of other specific actions and changes to services will be announced over the coming days and weeks.