Agenda item

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

(a)   To receive and note all decisions made by Council between 20 March 2020 – 30 June 2020 (attached) in accordance with the resolution made by Council on 20 March 2020. 

 

(b)   To receive a report regarding the financial impact of the pandemic on the Council’s income (attached) and to consider the recommendation/s contained therein.

 

(c)    To receive a report regarding the Leighton-Linslade COVID-19 Task Force (attached) and to consider the recommendation/s contained therein.

 

 

Minutes:

(a)          Members received and noted all decisions made by Council between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, i.e. the period of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions during which no physical meetings could take place. Decisions had been made in accordance with the emergency decision making process agreed by Council on 20 March 2020.

 

RESOLVED to note all decisions made by Council between 20 March and 20 June 2020, in accordance with the emergency decision making procedure agreed by Council on 20 March 2020.

 

(b)          Members received a report regarding the financial impact of the pandemic on the Council’s income. Even in a worst-case scenario, the Town Council was well positioned to meet the income shortfall caused by the Pandemic in 2020-2021. A COVID Support Fund earmarked reserve had been created and a full financial breakdown was provided to show where the fund total of £128,010 had come from (revenue budget underspend and additional income).

 

It was noted that income forecasting for 2021-2022 might prove difficult due to the changing situation with the pandemic.

On being proposed and seconded, the recommendations in the report were approved unanimously.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1)    to note the report.

2)    to endorse the creation of an Earmarked Reserve (from the 2019/20
revenue underspend) to the sum of £128,010 for the purposes of meeting
the anticipated shortfall in income caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

3)    that any remaining income shortfall be drawn down from:
i) general reserves and/or

ii) revenue budget savings

4)    to agree that the projects identified in the
Town Council’s 5 Year Financial Plan continue as soon as is practicable to do so.

 

(c)          Council received and considered a report regarding the COVID-19 Task Force, along with an appendix providing a range of figures on the help given since March as well as testimonials from recipients of help.

 

Graham Mountford, BLEVEC Silver Commander and June Tobin, lead of the Leighton-Linslade Helpers (one of the organisations forming the Leighton-Linslade COVID-19 Task Force) both gave a verbal presentation of their work within the voluntary sector during the pandemic.  It was felt that the Leighton-Linslade response to the pandemic had been exemplary and felt it was very important to continue this, as people affected by COVID would continue to require support even after the initial emergency phase was over. The services provided included food parcels, counselling, listening, collection and delivery of prescriptions as well as other help to individuals and families in the area. Over 1000 families had been given assistance since March.  

 

Both representatives of the Task Force were thanked for their presentation and for attending the meeting.

 

It was noted that the Leighton-Linslade Helpers, as one of the groups under the Task Force umbrella, was about to become registered as a charity and this would enable it to seek funding.

 

It was proposed and seconded that in order to continue the meeting past 2200 hours, Standing Order 3(x) be suspended for a maximum of thirty minutes.

 

RESOLVED to suspend Standing Order 3(x) for a maximum of thirty minutes.

 

The Chair invited comment and two amendments were proposed by Councillor Owen and seconded by Councillor Goodchild; one to add to the recommendation in the report presented to Council and one to replace it, by requesting that a more detailed review take place at the next Council meeting rather than waiting until January 2021.

 

Debate took place regarding the original report and the proposed amendments. Several members of the Council reiterated their thanks to, appreciation of and admiration for all the volunteers who had set aside their personal circumstances to work so hard for others during the pandemic.

 

Councillor D Scott left the meeting.

 

Differing views were expressed regarding the second amendment, with several councillors of the view that increased clarity was needed to improve the current structure and others of the view that any additional layer of bureaucracy would be unnecessary and possibly hamper the Task Force’s ability to respond quickly and flexibly to the local demands of the pandemic.

 

A further suspension of Standing Order 3(x) was proposed and seconded in order to continue the meeting past 2230 hours, Standing Order 3(x) be suspended for a maximum of five minutes.

 

RESOLVED to suspend Standing Order 3(x) for a maximum of five minutes.

 

The two amendments proposedwere seconded by Councillor R Goodchild andput to the vote with 9 in favour, 7 against and 1 abstention.  One Councillor did not participate in the vote. The motion was carried.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

1.            That this Council places on record its appreciation of the organisations and individuals, whether members of the COVID Task Group or not, who have carried out such selfless work on behalf of the community of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade during the Coronavirus pandemic over the past four months.

 

2.            That the Council wishes to review its role going forward in dealing with the pandemic, and instructs the Town Clerk to bring a paper to the Council meeting on 24 August that gives options on how best to continue that work including –

 

(a)      which organisations and individuals to partner with, rather than assuming that the present COVID Task Group is the best available going forward.

(b)      how the democratic involvement of councillors can best be achieved.

(c)      the objectives and terms of engagement with those groups/individuals.

(d)      the funding needed for this continuing work.

(e)      how the Town Council could be involved in a future lock-down if that happened.

 

Supporting documents: