The Head of Transformation, OD and Digital Services explained that the purpose of the report was to introduce the Council’s approach to recovery and restoration, particularly in light of the current pandemic. It was acknowledged that whilst the pandemic was still on going there was a real need to plan for the future recovery. It was noted that the deliver of services had been maintained it had become clear that both local and national economies had been badly effected by the present situation and lockdown. In order to try and address some of those issues a Bromsgrove Economic Recovery Plan was being developed together with a much wider County focused recovery plan and the intention was that this Recovery and Restoration Plan would sit along side those documents. This document had been built around the Council’s strategic purposes and included some of the priorities in the Council Plan, key recovery actions together with some recommendations from the recent Corporate Peer Challenge Review which had taken place earlier this year. As the council Plan was drafted before the onset of the Pandemic and it is likely that the Council’s priorities will have changed. A review of the Council Plan would therefore take place in early 2021 to ensure that the priorities and focus were relevant to, hopefully the post Covid position. It was noted that all Heads of Services had been involved in the construction of the Recovery and Restoration Plan.
The Leader commented that the report had been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Board on 12th October, with no concerns being raised. It was a good plan and confirmed that the Council Plan would be fully reviewed in 2021.
The Chief Executive thanked the Management Team for work so hard, not just in respect of the Plan but also the work over the last six months. The Plan as it stood at the moment, but as part of the recommendations there was scope for it to be revised and reviewed in the future, which was important in light of the present circumstances. The Plan placed the Council in a good position to move forward and addressed the elements in the Corporate Peer Challenge, which was a far reflection of the Council at that time, but it had already moved on in respect of a number of issues, as would be expected.
The Leader took the opportunity to pay tribute to both Officers and Members for how they had approached the Covid-19 situation. They had been proactive and despite a very stressful time had protected frontline services and been able to support residents.
The Deputy Leader raised a number of points, and made particular reference to the Planning Consultation document, and how the Recovery and Restoration Plan reinforced s common strand through the Council on what it was trying to deliver. He asked for feedback in respect of concerns around people losing their jobs now and ain the future due to the pandemic and support that could be put in place to help sign post them and assist them. It was noted that there was in fact growth in engineering, IT and construction, so opportunities were available.
The Chief Executive responded that affordable housing was important in achieving a balanced community. He was able to share a number of proposals which he had recently discussed with the Leader. The Leader confirmed that the Council was looking to employ a Business Support Officer, to help businesses look to a future vision and an Officer to help particularly the 16-24 years age group who had either lost their jobs or were going into work for the first time in order to enable them to get into the work place. These would be three year fixed term contracts primarily to support the economy of Bromsgrove District. This was welcomed as there were concerns around that age group in particular. It was acknowledged that there were schemes out there but it would be useful to have an officer who was able to sign post people and support them through the process. The Chief Executive reiterated that there was a lot of support available, but it was often difficult to navigate through it, the aim of the posts would be therefore to support people to do this. The skills agenda was huge and further meetings were taking place with the Worcestershire LEP around that agenda. It was explained that the £1m in reserves would not be completed utilised but once the officers were in place the Council would be in a better position to understand what other uses it could be put to in order to provide the necessary support in what was expected to be a very challenging six months.
Members emphasised the need to support local businesses and to shop local in order to support and protect local communities and help them to get through this very difficult time.
Concerns were raised as to whether there was capacity within the NWeDR to support all the tasks allocated to them or whether additional support would be needed. It was explained that whilst these were allocated to NWeDR they would be supported in carrying these through by partners, such as the Events Team would help with the promotion and events work at the Bird Box. This was a very fluid situation, and it would be reviewed regularly, but would very much be a team effort.
1) the proposed Recovery and Restoration Plan 2020 - 2021, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be endorsed;
2) the Cabinet monitor the council’s recovery actions against the plan and the Chief Executive Officer, in consultation with the Leader, be authorised to make amendments to the plan as required; and
3) the Corporate Peer Challenge Report 2020