The Leader explained that the rate of Covid-19 in Bromsgrove District had reached 110 cases per 100,000 by the date of the meeting. By comparison, the average number of cases in Worcestershire was 142 cases per 100,000. The vaccination programme was progressing well, with 30 per cent of residents living in Herefordshire and Worcestershire having received their first vaccination by the date of the meeting. However, the Leader commented that it remained important for people to comply with the lockdown rules and she urged Members and residents to do so in order to remain safe.
Members welcomed the opening of the Artrix as a vaccination Centre since the previous meeting of Council. Questions were raised about the number of people who had been vaccinated at this centre. Council was informed that this data was not available, though the contract would be in place for a significant amount of time in order to enable residents to receive a vaccine over the following months.
During consideration of this item, the Leader led Members in paying tribute to the Senior Democratic Services Officer for Bromsgrove, Amanda Scarce, who was due to retire the following day. Council was informed that Amanda commenced employment with Bromsgrove District Council in September 2009. Initially, she was employed as a Committee Services Officer supporting the then Overview and Scrutiny Officer with the Overview and Scrutiny process at the Council. She subsequently became the lead support officer for Overview and Scrutiny in Bromsgrove and from 2012 worked as part of the Democratic Services team to deliver the shared Democratic Service for Bromsgrove and Redditch. In September 2017, Amanda was promoted to the position of Senior Democratic Services Officer for Bromsgrove and since then had both co-managed the team and co-ordinated the democratic process for Bromsgrove, taking a lead on Cabinet and Council. Over the years Amanda had supported Members and facilitated scrutiny reviews into a range of subjects, from car parking to equalities. As well as being a professional officer, the Leader commented that Amanda was kind, intelligent, had a great sense of humour and had been immensely supportive to both colleagues and Members across all groups and parties. The Leader concluded by noting that Amanda would be missed by all staff, particularly her team, as well as Members, and she wished her well for the future.
A number of Members subsequently commented on the Senior Democratic Services Officer’s departure, starting with the group leaders. Members commented that Amanda had been particularly supportive to new Members, helping to inform them about the democratic process and responding to queries in a timely manner. Reference was made to the Senior Democratic Services Officer’s experience, in terms of facilitating scrutiny reviews and ensuring that these operated effectively. The Senior Democratic Services Officer was cited as being instrumental in the introduction of the Finance and Budget Working Group and Measures Dashboard Working Group and Members agreed that both groups had had a positive impact on the governance arrangements in place at the Council.