‘Worse than useless’ - leaders warned of ‘deep dark winter’ as Covid-19 report criticised

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: NCC

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: NCC - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk leaders are being urged to assess the county’s readiness for a “deep dark winter”, after a report praising its coronavirus response was branded “self-congratulatory claptrap”.

Norfolk Liberal Democrat group leader Steffan Aquarone. Picture: Alex Broadway

Norfolk Liberal Democrat group leader Steffan Aquarone. Picture: Alex Broadway - Credit: Alex Broadway

Opposition councillors have called for an inquiry into how rates of the disease were kept low across the summer months, following the release of a report on the county’s “remarkable response” so far.

Norfolk county council leader Andrew Proctor has warned Norfolk “cannot afford to be complacent” about the spread of coronavirus.

His comments came ahead of a discussion at next month’s cabinet meeting on the council’s work to tackle the next phase of the crisis.

Conservative Mr Proctor said: “The response to the crisis across Norfolk continues to be remarkable. Although infection rates in Norfolk have been rising, thankfully they are lower than elsewhere in the country.”

Norfolk Labour County Councillor, Emma Corlett. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk Labour County Councillor, Emma Corlett. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

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And he said while the county was currently in the lowest tier, “this can change rapidly and we cannot afford to be complacent”.

The council’s priorities for the coming months are to manage local outbreaks, provide support, work with district councils and volunteers, revitalise the economy, support businesses and ensure services are prepared for winter and any further peaks of Covid-19.

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But Emma Corlett, from Norfolk Labour, said: “With cases going up and widespread recognition there is a lot worse to come this report is worse than useless. The last thing Norfolk needs is a load of self-congratulatory claptrap.

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“A lessons-learned report that is predominantly platitudes and ego preening is insulting.”

Steffan Aquarone, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, added: “We are really disappointed as the county council continues to do more navel-gazing on Covid-19.

“This is why we have consistently called for an independent local enquiry. We need to act now: these people are exhausted and about to face a deep, dark winter.

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“But with Covid rates rising across the county, the focus must be on keeping infections and deaths as low as possible and it would seem the council’s opportunity to look at all the evidence from across Norfolk to do that has nearly been missed.”

In response, Mr Proctor said: “Neither group seems to want to recognise the work that goes on day in day out responding to Covid-19.

“As a leadership unit we are learning on a daily basis and certainly wouldn’t want to follow the liberal’s time wasting and resource intensive idea of a local enquiry.”

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