Chairman welcomed everyone present to the second meeting of the
COVID-19 Response and Recovery Scrutiny Panel, including all
members of the Council’s Corporate Leadership Team and the
Chief Executive. The Chairman commented that such attendance proved
testament to the importance the Council had placed on the work of
the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Panel.
Chairman reminded Members of the previous meeting of the Panel, at
which the establishment of a work programme was approved setting out the Panel’s meeting
dates for the remainder of 2020 along with the focus theme of each
3 September 2020
15 September 2020
6 October 2020
Small Business and High Street
Recovery/Local Government Reorganisation
13 October 2020
5 November 2020
Police, NHS, Charities, County
1 December 2020
10 December 2020
20 January 2020
set out within the work programme, the focus of the Panel at this
meeting would be local recovery themes in discussion with the
Corporate Leadership Team.
Vice Chairman provided Members with an update regarding the
‘Key Worker Memorial’ identified as a priority at the
first meeting of the Panel. Reiterating sentiments from the
previous meeting, the Vice Chairman reminded Members that the
memorial would be aimed at all key workers and volunteers, not
strictly NHS workers. The early stages of exploring work
required to support the development of a
permanent memorial took place through initial meetings held with
Council Officers to discuss funding, location, and opportunities
for partnership working.
Vice Chairman assured Members that meetings regarding the memorial
would continue over the coming weeks to establish the appropriate
steps to be made, with updates to be provided to the
Chairman then invited the Chief Executive to address the Panel with
an overview of the Council’s position during the immediate
response to the pandemic.
Chief Executive commented on the difficulty of summarising the past
six months through unprecedented times for communities,
organisationally, and nationally. The Council quickly identified
the primary consideration during the pandemic – the impact on
the people of Ashfield. It was established that the Council would
focus on maintaining vital services throughout the crisis, and
through working as ‘one council’ this was
Employees were quickly redeployed to areas most in need, with
over a hundred volunteers within the Council. Staff had been
exceptional during this period, going above and
beyond to work outside of comfort zones to deliver essential
services. New working conditions had also been embedded that would
have a lasting effect on the organisational culture of the Council
moving forward. Council Offices remained open for employees that
needed to come in with social distancing measures quickly
implemented, such as one-way systems, clear signage, and hand
sanitising stations. Thanks were also extended to Members for the
support they have offered throughout the crisis.
Council led on delivering humanitarian aid in Ashfield, such as
delivering food parcels and prescriptions and making welfare
telephone calls. Close work with the community and voluntary
sectors proved a lifeline for communities in Ashfield and the
Council was thankful for this strong collaboration.
Going forward, the Council would continue to offer support
wherever it could. Strong collaboration with local service
providers would continue as the emphasis shifted from response to
local outbreak control. Services continued to move forward, and
lessons of the pandemic would shape priorities.
Finally, the Chief Executive, on behalf of the Corporate
Leadership Team, affirmed the value of the COVID-19 Response and
Recovery Scrutiny Panel, both as a platform to assess the
Council’s pandemic response and to understand the impact it
would have in years to come.
Following the introductory speech from the Chief Executive, the
meeting followed a question and answer format, featuring
discussions between Panel Members and the Officers in attendance,
as well as numerous questions that had been submitted through
social media by Ashfield residents.
following denotes who responded to the questions asked:
What preparations have been made for a potential
second wave of the virus?
CE: In the event of a second wave, the Council has much more
intelligence regarding the virus and how to
react to it compared to the initial outbreak in March; such as
knowing the most vulnerable residents in Ashfield. An early
warning system is in place from the Director of Public Health with
weekly briefings including figures for the whole of
The Council has recently
appointed Economic Development Officers within an established
Business Support Hub to offer guidance to local businesses
regarding available support and COVID-secure measures. The Council
is aware that outbreaks can happen in a variety of settings and
will be examining figures as they arrive to take appropriate steps.
The Council’s Communications Team will be commencing an
autumn campaign regarding COVID-19 awareness. Collaborative working
will continue to be a key feature of the recovery phase and the
Council is working with the voluntary and community sectors to
prepare for a second wave. Finally, the Council will rely on the
digital relationship with residents to ensure messages can be
Both the voluntary and community sectors were
heavily involved during the initial response; will this be
maintained during the recovery phase?
CE: Collaboration with the voluntary and community sector has been
strong throughout and has led to a stronger relationship between
the Council and the sectors both strategically and
Cllr K Rostance:
How will the Council support residents with
significant circumstance changes and lost jobs?
CE: There are concerns regarding the end of schemes that have helped
reduce job losses and financial hardship. The Council is working
with the DWP to ensure preparations are in place for the end of
these schemes. Efforts will be made to refer residents to the most
appropriate agencies that can help with issues outside of the
There is awareness that many people could lose jobs
in Ashfield, and the Council is working to identify how best to
support them. A piece of work has been commissioned that will
concentrate on the economic recovery of Ashfield, identifying areas
that need to be focused on. Additionally, there has been investment
in the Economic Development Team to enable the Council to provide
further support to residents and businesses.
The effects of the pandemic on employment
particularly devastating for young people. The Government have
launched the Kickstart Scheme, designed
to provide funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to
24 year olds. The Council will be working with the DWP to support
Following initial questions, the Chairman introduced the Service
Manager, Scrutiny and Democratic Services to provide Members with
an overview of the information contained in the report.
Members were presented with a report including up-to-date
guidance from Central Government regarding COVID-19 and details of
Local Outbreak Control Plans.
Government announced that as part of the national strategy to
reduce the infection rates of COVID-19, it would expect every area
in England to create a Local Outbreak Control Plan. The
Nottinghamshire Local Outbreak Plan set out how local government
works with the NHS Test and Trace service, so that the County would
be prepared to contain the virus wherever and if ever it occurs.
The Plan also outlined how lives would be protected using emergency
response systems in partnership with Public Health England, the
NHS, the voluntary sector, and the wider community.
report also presented Panel Members with updates provided by
members of the Corporate Leadership Team relating to the
Council’s Directorates and COVID-19 specific recovery
Chairman put forward questions that had been submitted by Ashfield
residents through social media.
Many thanks to Ashfield
District Council for the support offered during this crisis. What
ongoing support will be provided to local businesses?
DP&C: The Council has carried out
a vast amount of work ensuring grants are delivered to support
businesses in the District, and the Council will continue to work
with and support local business. Measures such as the free parking
scheme have been successful and well received by both customers and
traders. The Business Support Hub has
been established to serve as a contact hub for financial support
and any other issues. The Council is also working to produce an
Economic Recovery Plan to further
understand the recovery landscape where to best use
resources. Huge opportunities are still available through the
Future High Streets and Town Funds.
CFM: The Council has allocated around £19 million in small
business and retail hospitality grants. Recognition is there that
some businesses are falling through the cracks of support and more
work will be carried out to respond to this.
How much revenue did the
Council lose by extending free parking?
CFM: In total, forecast loss from car parking will be approximately
£93,000 - £68,000 anticipated lost income due to free
car parking, £25,000 based on the introduction of 2-hour free
car parking from September to the end of the financial
Reiterated that feedback on the Council’s free
parking initiatives has been overwhelmingly positive, increasing
shopper confidence to go into Town Centres, increasing footfall and
enabling traders to continue trading. The introduction of a period
of free parking has influenced the Council’s thinking on
future changes to parking.
What preparations have been
made for a potential second wave, and what lessons have the Council
On lessons learnt, the relationship the Council has
with the voluntary sector has greatly improved. Preparations for a
second wave – the Council has temporary accommodation on
Biggest lesson learnt is how resilient the Council
is and has been. Moving forward there will be an organisational
culture change, work in different ways to be adopted and embedded.
The Council will continue daily monitoring of the impact of
COVID-19 on employees. Redeployment of employees will reoccur in
the event of a second wave.
In the event of a second wave, structures are in
place that leave the Council better prepared, such as the Local
Resilience Forum and the Strategic Coordinating Group within that.
These groups are focused on outbreak planning. The response to a
potential second wave is being continually fine-tuned.
Have Ashfield District Council
employees been supplied appropriately with PPE?
Daily monitoring of PPE began in March at the onset
of the pandemic, with any issues identified and PPE distributed to
areas of greatest need. The Council never ran out of PPE or were
unable to provide appropriate PPE to employees.
Will the Council buildings be
open to the public?
Access to certain Council buildings will be
available on an appointment only basis. Risk assessments will be
carried out appropriately for the Council’s office spaces.
The priority will be to provide a safe environment for visitors and
Following the discussion of questions submitted by Ashfield
residents, the Chairman invited further questions from Panel
Cllr K Rostance:
There have been difficulties ensuring social
distancing measures are adhered to in public houses. Has the
Council’s Licensing Team been able to maintain control of
CE: The Council has been and will continue to work collaboratively
with pubs in the District. Licensing are working with the Police
and meeting breweries to ensure measures are implemented to combat
any lack of social distancing.
Cllr D Shaw:
Has there been an upsurge in
Homelessness referrals have reduced due to the
imposed ban on evictions. Although it is difficult to know who is
threatened with rough sleeping, The Council will continue working
with key partners to monitor homelessness in the District. Known
homeless are being housed in temporary accommodation and will be
offered support. The Council continue to apply for grants to
support temporary accommodation.
Cllr C Wilkinson:
With the potential end of the eviction ban and
furlough schemes, does the Council anticipate an influx of
The Council will try to accommodate families in
collaboration with other housing providers. Officers will liaise
with landlords and property developers
to support a potential influx. The Council is aiming to increase
the capacity of temporary accommodation available.
Panel acknowledged the vast amount of work the Council had
undertaken both in response to the pandemic and throughout the
early stages of recovery, with thanks extended to the dedication of
the Place and Wellbeing, Environmental Health, and Private Sector
Enforcement Teams. The Panel recognised that these teams had done
remarkable work ensuring businesses were aware of and complying
with COVID-secure measures. Members discussed a potential
recognition scheme for businesses that have gone above and beyond adapting to new guidelines, with
the Director for Place and Communities in agreement.
Panel also discussed the valuable work of charities throughout the
crisis, with recognition given to the efforts of food banks in
Ashfield. Members agreed with the sentiments put forward by the
Chief Executive earlier in the meeting of collaborative working
being a key priority throughout recovery. The Director of Place and
Communities assured Members that the Community Engagement Team
would continue working with the voluntary and charity
Discussion then moved to the topic of local government
reorganisation, in accordance with the remit of the Panel set
within the established terms of reference. The Vice Chairman
requested an update on the Council’s position regarding local
Director of Resources and Business Transformation explained to
Members that the Council was awaiting the publication of a white
paper from the Government regarding local government
reorganisation, and that the Council’s position would become
much clearer following this. The awaited white paper would outline
plans for local government reorganisation including an increase in
unitary authorities, empowering parish councils, mayoral
requirements, and further devolution to unitary authorities.
Communication with Nottinghamshire County Council and Government
had been limited up to this point, but the Council would be
undertaking considerable work to establish a position in response
to the proposals.
Members agreed that an item relating to local government
reorganisation, with any updates on the anticipated white paper and
proposals within, would be placed on the agenda for the meeting
scheduled for October.
Following the discussion, the Chairman and Service Manager,
Scrutiny and Democratic Services summarised the views, comments,
and suggestions arising from the meeting. The Chairman again
reminded Members that the Panel’s work programme would remain
fluid to enable the Panel to respond and prioritise issues as they
arise. On behalf of the Panel, the Chairman thanked the Corporate
Leadership Team for their attendance and participation, noting that
it demonstrates the importance the Council places on the work of
the updates provided by the Corporate Leadership
Team relating to the Council’s Directorates and COVID-19
specific recovery themes, as outlined in the report, be received
an item be placed on the agenda for the Panel
meeting scheduled for 6 October 2020 focusing on Small Business
Recovery in Ashfield;
the Service Manager, Scrutiny and Democratic
Services be requested to extend invitations to business
representatives from a variety of sectors and areas across the
District to attend the next meeting of the Panel and participate in
the discussion relating to Small Business Recovery;
an item be placed on the agenda for the Panel meeting scheduled for
6 October 2020 to enable Members to consider in more detail the
proposals for local government reorganisation.