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Coronavirus information

Coronavirus: Leader's message

Stephen Atkinson
Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Stephen Atkinson.
Published Monday, 23 March 2020

Leader's message on the Council's response to the Coronavirus pandemic

I am sure like everyone else in the country you are listening to the regular updates from the Prime Minister on how, as a country, we are responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  The Prime Minister has explained to me, as Leader of the Council, and our Chief Executive that he expects local authorities to provide leadership to our communities and to support the challenge of beating this disease.

Just as the government says it will do what it takes to beat this crisis he made it clear that local government had to do what it takes.  He said he will back us to be creative, to be inventive and to provide the energy needed to beat this crisis in every street in our country.

The Prime Minister explained that the aim is to flatten the curve so the NHS can treat as many people as possible.  “Local government is in the lead” he said. “Resources would follow.  Our task and mission is identify the people with the right skill set for harnessing community effort and volunteers as part of a nationally integrated plan with the NHS.”

He sees District Councils like Ribble Valley as being responsible for the ‘last mile’.  If deaths are to be minimised, the NHS must be able to cope and local government must help enormously in achieving that objective.  It is a crucial mission and success will mean many fewer lives will be lost and the economy will be more able to bounce back.

We are currently working on a plan of how we can do what the Prime Minister asks, this plan may mean some of our services may have to change or be suspended in the short term and council staff being diverted from the tasks and work they normally do.

I know our staff won’t let the Prime Minister, Government and our communities down.

At the moment we are working hard to ensure that we continue to empty your bins, clean your streets, deal with benefit payments, and run our priority services and will do all we can to minimise any impact on your day-to-day lives.

We are also are establishing a community hub that will help support our communities, particularly the vulnerable and elderly and those without a network of friends or family.  I know many villages already have arrangements in place and have been in touch with us.  I would like to thank those involved and offer the Council’s full support.

Finally the Government has announced a package of business support measures, including a 12-month business rates “holiday” for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, small business grant funding of £10,000 for most businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, and grants of £10,000 for small and £25,000 for medium sized businesses in the retail hospitality and leisure sectors.  We hope to be able to pay those grants next week once we have details and funding from the Government.

Further information regarding Coronavirus is available elsewhere on our website and will be regularly updated as new information becomes available.

Stephen Atkinson, Leader
Ribble Valley Borough Counci
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