As shown in the picture, this was the first virtual Council meeting and only Council Officers and the Mayor were present in the Chamber
The full report can be found here: https://democracy.spelthorne.gov.uk/documents/s27114/Report%20on%20emergency%20response%20to%20COVID-19.pdf
Thank you - Madam Mayor.
In this current emergency, I would like to give a formal response to the report on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group. We want to record our appreciation of all that the Council has done and recognise the exceptional efforts that have been made. We have nothing but admiration for what the Officers of the Council have achieved, and it would be unfair to single out individuals when so many deserve recognition of their contributions.
We have heard of so many examples of exceptional team efforts and of individuals going the extra mile. We have been told about how flexible people have been in response to exceptional circumstances. You have demonstrated what genuine public service means - it means doing everything you can, not just what you have to do. The effect of all this has been that the Council's response to the emergency has made a genuine difference to many, many people.
We recognise the need to make budgetary provision to cover both the additional costs and reductions in revenue and we are supportive of the recommendation to approve the supplementary estimate of £2.2m. However, we also understand that Spelthorne will be hoping to receive further grants from the government and in the short term need funds to maintain a balanced budget. As with all Council expenditure, it is important that we, as members, make sure that all spending represents best value for money and close attention must be paid to the sources and application of funds.
We also recognise that the Council continues to have obligations to business, as usual, and this work remains important. We understand that after this epidemic we will have to adjust to a new normal way of life, and we, as members, must have a role in defining the future operations and priorities of the Council.
Turning to the five recommendations we have been asked to consider. I feel that I have covered the first two items.
I have indicated our acceptance of the need for budgetary provision to cover the emergency, but we are looking for reassurance that members will be given the opportunity for proper scrutiny of the finances and, not just once, but on an ongoing basis.
We are also supportive of amendment of Standing Orders for the six month rule as at this difficult time it is essential that no one falls foul of this.
We are strongly in favour of holding the Annual Council Meeting on the 18th June. We also regard it as essential that as well as the traditional activities mandated for the Annual Meeting, there is the opportunity to consider other important items. We have a duty, as members, to ensure that there is accountability. We must restore normal member activities and provide opportunities to challenge and scrutinize what is being done, not because of any lack of trust but because that is our duty.
In conclusion, I would like to re-iterate that in times of crisis we all have a right to turn to our government and public services for support, and in this emergency Spelthorne has not let its residents down. To all our Officers we say a huge "Thank You".