A message from Cllr Richard Burton, leader of the council
Fri, 12 Jun 2020

Dear colleague,

On 16 March I published an open letter to the residents of the East Riding as the Government moved into the "delay" phase of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was exactly a week before the country moved into lockdown and, as it was becoming increasingly obvious how much of a challenge was ahead of us, I wanted to assure residents and businesses that the council would do all it could do to support local communities.

Twelve weeks on from that moment, it is remarkable to think about how much has been achieved by the council in the face of such unprecedented adversity.

From the outset, we advised the public that we would need to stop or reduce some services and prioritise our resource on where it would be needed the most.

The biggest priority, of course, was protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, suppressing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping people safe and well.

That remains our number one priority and, despite the Government's easing of lockdown measures, the council's strategy is very much still based on the paramount importance of suppressing COVID-19 and protecting the vulnerable.

We are starting to plan and work towards the council's and the East Riding's recovery from the pandemic while still very much operating in emergency response mode across a number of services, and we have to continue to be prepared for a possible second peak while also supporting some kind of "return to normal" for society and the economy.

It's a tremendously difficult balancing act and one which will need the public to fully support the local Test and Trace work which will be led by our public health experts.

Our public health team has been fantastic during this crisis. We always knew the fight against COVID-19 was going to be a long haul but they have been dealing with this threat for even longer than the rest of us.

Their knowledge, guidance, stamina and dedication has been extraordinary.

Those qualities have been mirrored across the council and the main purpose of this message is to pay tribute to the amazing efforts of the whole council workforce.

I'm sure I speak on behalf of all elected members of East Riding of Yorkshire Council when I say thank you for your efforts, from the bottom of our hearts.

We have been so impressed and proud of your work across so many fields and we know how much the public has also appreciated the support you have provided.

The commitment to keep looking after the frail and elderly across residential and domiciliary care, how we've managed to keep collecting and emptying 50,000 bins every day, the way we have provided an education setting for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers, as well as supporting the home education of thousands of other youngsters, the tens of millions of pounds which has been processed in grants and relief to help keep businesses afloat and the support and advice we have been providing those firms and small traders - it has all been absolutely tremendous, uplifting and heart-warming.

I know from speaking to family and friends, members of the public and managers, and from seeing the superb response on social media, how much our staff in essential, frontline services are appreciated.

However, I want to recognise the contribution of all of you as well who are "behind the scenes" in roles which support the frontline services and without which nothing else can happen.

The ICT response to the COVID-19 crisis has been fantastic, enabling thousands of staff to work from home and ensuring that the democratic process can continue through the use of video conferencing.

Our human resources, finance and legal and democratic processes are also equally important in ensuring the smooth running of all council operations.

Our planning team has processed hundreds of planning applications, social workers continue to carry out their crucial work, public protection has carried out more than 250 visits to support businesses through the crisis, our fleet technicians are keeping vehicles on the roads and staff across numerous departments are working to keep the economy ticking over and infrastructure and regeneration projects progressing.

Leisure centre instructors and other culture and customer services staff have been helping to support people's health and wellbeing through a range of activities and resources on the new Active East Riding website. Their normal way of working may have been disrupted but the creativity they have shown in filming home exercise sessions and all sorts of other physical and mental health activities has been brilliant.

Roads maintenance, housing repairs, road safety, many, many services continue - too many to list in this message but every team in every service have been playing their part and elected members and the public are grateful for it.

I want to also thank all the staff who have stepped up and been redeployed into different roles to help the overall council effort.

The East Riding Community Response Hub has utilised many such staff in the task of supporting the people who need help and have no-one else to turn to. Staff have been manning telephone lines and helping with the logistics around the organisation and delivery of food parcels. The hub has been a massive success story and we have lots of positive feedback from people.

Back in mid-March, I urged everyone across the East Riding to show a collective community spirit, so that we would get through the dark times ahead together, united in a common purpose.

There can be no doubt that the "we're all in it together" spirit has come shining through, loud and clear.

Please continue to hold on to this sentiment in the weeks and months to come because we know COVID-19 isn't going away any time soon.

The council will continue to have a proportionate, flexible and evidence-based approach to the crisis and will continue to follow the advice and guidance of Government and Public Health England.

Please remain as positive as you can and please be proud of what you have achieved so far.

For those of you who have lost loved ones or colleagues, my thoughts and prayers are with you, and I hope you are getting any support you need as the health and wellbeing of all of us will continue to be an absolute priority.

Finally, thank you once again for everything you are doing for the residents, businesses and communities we serve. You are a credit to the council and the East Riding.

Earlier this week, Cabinet approved the council's COVID-19 Recovery Plan and we will all need to continue to be positive, united, determined and resilient as we lead the East Riding out of the crisis and start to shape a "new normal" for the council and our communities.

Staff safe and well.



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