Risk of more coronavirus spikes prompts call to learn lessons from Norfolk response

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (righ

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (right). Picture: Neil Perry/Norfolk County Council/Denise Bradley - Credit: Neil Perry/Norfolk County Counci

The way Norfolk County Council responded to the coronavirus pandemic is to be investigated, with councillors saying lessons must be learned ahead of potential further spikes.

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The county council has played a key role in trying to deal with the effects of the pandemic in the county - including efforts to source enough protective personal equipment for the council and care homes.

The council worked with district councils, the NHS, police and other public sector partners to help get systems set up to support people and organisations and to encourage volunteers to help the vulnerable.

A public sector leaders’ board has been set up to keep the efforts going and county council leader Andrew Proctor praised the “magnificent” response to the pandemic.

However, the opposition Labour group had asked a string of questions about the response, raising concerns about difficulties in getting hold of protective personal equipment and problems with the national school meals voucher scheme.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry - Credit: Archant

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And the council’s scrutiny committee will focus on investigating the council’s COVID-19 response at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 27.

The committee will receive presentations from director of public health Dr Louise Smith and the county council’s head of paid service, Tom McCabe.

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Labour group leader Steve Morphew, chair of the scrutiny committee, said: ‘The amazing work done by so many to protect us deserves all the praise we can give.

“Now we owe it to those heroes to make sure we learn the lessons, embed the good practice and great ideas, and also fill the gaps and speed up our capacity to respond to future emergencies.

“There is a real risk of more spikes so I want to prioritise those things that could make a difference - helping prevent a second spike and reducing the impact if it comes.

“We have seen enough loss, suffering and damage already and we’re not out of it yet.

“Now we need to work together quickly to look at where things were done well and could have been done better.”

The opposition Liberal Democrat group has previously called for an independent inquiry into the county’s response to the virus.

The scrutiny meeting includes up to 15 minutes for questions from members of the public of which due notice has been given.

Questions must be received by the committee team via committees@norfolk.gov.uk by 5pm on Wednesday, May 20.

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