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Keeping it Local

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s response to provide support to our most vulnerable residents has been wanton, claims Councillor

In an open letter circulated to all members of the council, local Labour leader Cllr Carl Quartermain, has today spoken of his displeasure of the Coronavirus response from both Redcar and Cleveland Council and the Government. Hes calls for an urgent action plan, that should of been in place weeks ago, as per his and his groups requests.

The letter reads as,

“With the increasing health issues created by the Corona Virus pandemic and the unfair inconsistencies and piecemeal advice from government, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s response to provide support to our most vulnerable residents, support groups and businesses has also been wanton.”

“While the Corona Virus spreads and affects normal life and with these concerns having been raised for the past two weeks there has seemingly been a lack of action by this council other than reading off government statements. Even the most simplest request of providing hand sanitisers at the entrances of our own council owned public buildings, has not been adhered to. There has been no obvious changes to services or collective statements from a joined up council. 

“This crisis seems to be happening without changes to practices and without intervention from this administration who keep citing out-of-date advice while not changing practices to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“I can only hope the meetings taking place today deliver some action because advice has not been sought from outside the administration. The administration should engage in a collective action plan by seeking support from all representatives across this borough. The lack of two way communication means we are reduced to emailing our concerns and questions.

“The best I’ve seen so far is coming from individuals and community activists who are amazing and have our sincere thanks and support. Groups such as Teesside Community Action Group (Covid-19 support) are popping up but is there support from the local or national government to aid them?

“Vital supplies including baby formula, toiletries and medication are becoming increasingly hard to get hold of due to panic buying. How do those self isolating receive supplies? How will local businesses continue training? How will they stay solvent while their customers are advised to stay away but are still expected to continue paying rents and rates?

“I am advised food banks will shortly be only able to provide a basic service to their users to limit access to central points. This means that food parcels will be created but will require delivering. How do these people receive food?

“Many residents require their medication. Whilst the government are advising self isolation, local hospitals and doctor surgeries are diverting people to pharmacies which as a consequence are becoming extremely busy. The council continue to facility the gathering of our elderly. How can these people self isolate without a change to practice?

“Whilst the government advises self isolation and social distancing, schools, clubs, and day centres continue to be aided by the council to group residents together. Residents who may thereafter carry the virus without knowledge, can unwittingly take this back to family and friends who may be more susceptible to the very worst symptoms.

“The advice is currently so inconsistent and contradictory because the govt has been so weak with decision making and it’s piecemeal advice. Business, employees, schools, clubs and organisations are naturally all concerned about staff, income, rents, rates and mortgages. Aside relying on the good nature of others what choice do people have other than to leave their homes anyway if support to isolate isn’t provided?

“If the government does give the go ahead to shut down, then the onus will surely be on them to provide financial support to all communities, charities and partnerships. We are aware now that many insurance companies would contest that their policies do not extend to this type of crisis. 

“While many will be self isolating for  7-14 days there is contradictory action from this council that is facilitating attendance to public buildings, community centres, pharmacies and schools, for activity, support and welfare? Those coming out of isolation will still be at risk after this time due to inaction.

“Please can this council advise our residents and businesses;

“What extra support is being developed and provided by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council over and above the government’s advice to support the most vulnerable, businesses, renters and homeowners to isolate? Will residents unable to work be able to apply for emergency universal credit or income support to help them with provisions, utilities and rents?

“Is the government providing funding for local organisations, credit unions, charities and partnerships to support those most vulnerable? Has support been requested from this administration? Has this administration in turn requested government support?

“Will businesses whose customers are being advised to stay away by the government, receive business relief or are they expected to stay open with the fear of no custom, continued rents and a fear of invalidating their insurance?

“Finally, I appreciate that the government have not made decision making easy for councils across the country but as the authority we need to act quickly, decisively, consistently and collectively for the health and well being of our residents and for the health of our local businesses.”


Cllr Carl Quartermain 

Leader of the Labour Group  Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council