Manchester City Council

Covid 1

1 May, 2020

Covid 1      No I haven’t missed a 9 off the end. Thought if I used this imaginative title for a new blog series, later on I could have, for example in October, Covid 22 - Return of the Virus, or sometime next year, Covid 63 -the Vaccine Strikes Back.

Enough of that. For all of us, Covid-19 has dominated our lives for the last three months and it has certainly dominated the work of the City Council. Next week the Council's Executive Committee will be having its first virtual meeting looking at our response to the crisis and looking forward to what we want to come next. 

My working life seems at times to have become an endless stream of video conferences. The lockdown has spawned lots of video con parodies, the funniest being funny because they are so close to the truth. People talking away not realising they're on mute, people not being able to work out how to unmute, speakers suddenly freezing midframe, participants unknowingly disappearing altogether as their wi-fi breaks up. It's a far from ideal way of doing business, ok for transactional stuff, useless for debate, but for the time being it's the best we have got and there are two very important reports on the Executive agenda.

Compared to the usual Executive reports they are quite long reports but given the demands on officer time we have tried to minimise the work required to produce them, with them largely being based on the sitrep reports and working documents that are being produced as a matter of course. They are long but they are not a difficult read, just at times a painful read, and as I said in the previous paragraph, they are important. I will return to the content in subsequent weeks but for today, I want to stick with that demand on Council officers' time.

It's May Day so what better time to celebrate the Council's workers. If one thing the Coronavirus has done it has shown just how essential they are. Care workers still going into people's homes to provide support to the people who need it most, supporting discharge from hospitals to create space for serious Covid cases, organising food deliveries twice a week to over four thousand households, collecting our rubbish, keeping our parks open for safe exercise, staffing the phone lines that allow vulnerable people to ask for help, working weekends to get grants out to small businesses, keeping work places clean for staff who can't work from home, mending our roads, ensuring there are daycare and school places for children of key workers, continuing to check on vulnerable children including home visits were necessary, and let's not forget the back office staff who keep the show on the road, the it staff who have been working tirelessly to provide staff with the equipment so wherever possible people can work from home, the staff helping maintain as much of our economy as we  can and have already started the work on its rebuilding, the libraries and galleries staff innovatively providing a virtual service, the Comms staff providing a stream of vital information for residents, the staff making sure we have additional special school provision built for September - the list could go on and on.

If anybody didn't think Council workers were important, they do now. Let's not forget it when the crisis is over.


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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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