Published: 08:12, 22 May 2020
| Updated: 08:16, 22 May 2020
Swale council's leader Roger Truelove says the coronavirus pandemic will leave a £4 million hole in the council's budget.
In an update on life during lockdown in Sittingbourne, Sheppey and Faversham, he took a line from Charles Dickens's novel A Tale of Two Cities and admitted: "This is the worst of times - and the best of times."
He said: "It is two months now since the council closed its offices and councillors and staff took their laptops and set up office in their homes.
"Since then the work has continued, with normal services maintained and a whole set of new responsibilities carried out at the request of Government.
"We have run community support hubs, supported food banks, distributed government business grants and found accommodation for rough sleepers and a growing number of homeless people.
"We have worked with the government, the county council, the NHS and the police. We have had officers out at weekends monitoring the public response to social distancing.
"Like other councils we have fought to maintain as high a level of waste collection as possible.
"We now estimate the extra responsibilities and the loss of normal income will leave with us a shortfall of £4 million on our basic budget. This will be hard but I believe we will manage.
"This is the worst of times. The isolation forced on so many, especially frail and vulnerable people is difficult to maintain.
"It is hard for all of us to be cut off from family and friends and to be denied those things that we enjoy in life, such as going to a football match, the cinema, to restaurants or meeting friends in a pub.
"It is asking much of faith groups not to attend church, mosque or synagogue.
"Above all, and dependent on our different temperaments, we share an underlying anxiety, about health, jobs, the economy and of course our children.
"We want to see an end but we don’t know when that end will be.
"Ironically, there are some ways that this has been the best of times.
"We have seen an outburst of decency, of community support, of care for others, of courage and selflessness.
"We have seen an improvement in our environment, cleaner air and quiet only broken by the sound of birds.
"The advice to take daily exercise has enabled people to discover peaceful walks into our countryside.
"We have discovered just how important our frontline workers are.
"Let us hope that when we get back to watching football and eating out, that we retain this sense of community and mutual regard.
"This is a time for wisdom, not foolishness. We have seen how important our public services are and how important it is to work together.
"I am conscious that as a council we must play our part in building a recovery. There will be a legacy that goes beyond the need for health care. We already see a rise in unemployment.
"But we must not be overcome with anxieties.
"We will continue with our determined aim of improving our public spaces, our town centres and our coast.
"We will work with others to build a stronger local economy.
"We will continue work to improve our environment and we will create stronger links between our council and voluntary and charitable groups in the community.
"We have worked well remotely. Meetings are held through Skype, within Swale and with others across the county and the country.
"It has been very hard for everyone but we will learn lessons and build a strong recovery."
More by this authorJohn Nurden