Blackpool Council leader reflects on "a year like no other"
Blackpool’s council leader has praised the work of town hall staff and volunteers to protect and support residents during the Covid pandemic.
Coun Lynn Williams reflected on the measures which had been taken in what had been “a year like no other” during her Budget speech at a meeting of the council held on Zoom.
She said: “This has been a year like no other and it is worth taking time to reflect on the extraordinary achievements of the council and community partners in one of the most challenging years in the history of this local authority and our town.
“This time last year no-one could have anticipated what was about to enfold – a global pandemic paralysing normal life, locking down our communities and our economy, and of course the tragedy of so many lost to this awful virus.”
But Coun Williams said in the midst of the crisis there had been cause for optimism with the Corona Kindness team helping thousands of people, and town hall staff deployed into new roles to support residents.
She said at its peak, 19 phonelines were manned taking up to 250 requests a day for assistance.
The council’s food hub had delivered half a million meals to people in need, while finance staff had distributed £70m worth of government grants to 4,900 businesses in the town.
The Blackpool Unlimited support desk handled 3,000 inquiries from businesses, while public protection teams helped 1,500 businesses set up Covid safe measures.
The town was the first to set up a ‘Covid Army’ to reassure the public and this will return as lockdown eases.
Between March and October last year, a total of 1,700 households had approached the council’s Housing Options service for support with 600 households rehoused, many into permanent accommodation.
Around £500,000 had been distributed to families in financial difficult to buy school uniforms, while there had been ongoing advice and support for care homes.
Coun Williams added: “Our efforts have ensured Blackpool’s levels of serious illness and death are lower than the North West average, and we continue to have the highest testing rate of any local authority in Lancashire.”
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