Council appoints cabinet member for coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 17:37 29 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:37 29 March 2020
A council has appointed a cabinet member for emergency planning to oversee its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
West Norfolk council leader Brian Long said Stuart Dark, ward councillor for Heacham, had “a strong background in civil emergency response work”.
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Mr Dark has worked for the police service and been involved in the response to the Tsunami, London bombings and other major incidents.
Mr Long said: “He’s the right person to be liaising with borough, town and parish councils to ensure they have the information they need about the borough council’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak and to feedback information to cabinet so that we can ensure our staff are supported to deliver the services that are needed.”
Mr Dark said: “The council is doing a good job getting messages into the media and on social media. However, some people are isolated and don’t have access to these channels, so I want to ensure that representatives at a really local level are able to reassure people and provide advice.
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“This is a very worrying time for everyone, but it can be especially frightening for vulnerable and isolated people who maybe don’t have friends or family to turn to. By ensuring that there is a network of people on the ground with up-to-date information hopefully we can reassure people and reduce their anxiety.”
Mr Dark said council workers were setting up community hubs to support the vulnerable and isolated.
“All households will be receiving letters over the next few days detailing how they can access help or how they can provide support to these hubs,” he said.
“I know we have a team of people working on the business rates and hardship relief announced by the government. I want to reassure businesses, that as long as you are registered we know who you are and will be issuing revised business rates bills - you don’t need to do anything.”
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He added council open spaces and allotments remained open for people to take exercise, but said they should observe social distancing and hygiene measures.
“We are asking people not to ring or come into the office if it can be avoided,” he added. “This means we can keep the phone lines open for those who are seriously in need, protect you and protect our staff.”
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