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Swale council reveals plan to recover from coronavirus pandemic

Returning staff to work in phases, encouraging working from home and assessing the impact on affordable homes are all points of focus in a council's recovery plan.

Officers at Swale council have published a report setting out its priorities and how it plans to get back on its feet after disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Swale council's HQ, Swale House, in East Street, Sittingbourne
Swale council's HQ, Swale House, in East Street, Sittingbourne

Councillors will discuss the papers at this week's cabinet meeting of top members on Wednesday evening.

Director of regeneration, Emma Wiggins, is managing the roll-out of the scheme.

In a report due to be considered by councillors she said: "As the government eases the country out of lockdown, attention has been turned from emergency response to the ‘recovery phase’.

"This is not a normal recovery due to the scale of the Covid-19 impact - we are in uncharted waters.

"Recovery may require some form of realignment of services and processes of the council with short, medium and long-term choices to make.

"A plan is being developed for recovery which will evolve over time."

"This is not a normal recovery."

It splits actions into three stages, between June and September, October and next March and beyond then.

The categories it looks at are economic improvement, affordable housing, climate and environmental emergency, communities and social inclusion and renewing local democracy and making the council fit for the future.

As part of the plan the council wants to focus on delivering a "rough sleeping and hidden homelessness" package, bring in a plan for staff using environmentally friendly transport, develop a health and wellbeing recovery plan and look at bringing staff back into the council's office in phases.

Before September it wants to encourage people who volunteered at the community hub to help out more in the community and carry on handing out grants to businesses.

The report also reveals the council is working with police to ensure public places stay safe.

"A plan is being developed for recovery which will evolve over time."

It is also bracing for a financial impact of £4.1 million of additional costs and lost income, as a result of the health emergency.

To date, the council has had £1.576 million of additional government funding paid towards the deficit.

The report said there may be no further funding made available to the authority.

"This is an extremely serious position for the council not just for this year but beyond given the likelihood of longer term shortfalls in council tax, business rates and other income," it added.

An earlier report, published in June revealed how the council plans to balance its budget.

The meeting will take place at 8pm on Wednesday via the online conferencing app, Skype.

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