In a Full Council meeting, York councillors have backed Lib Dem calls for cross-party lobbying efforts to take place to secure additional testing facilities together with improved testing capacity, as well as crucial financial support to support city’s residents and businesses
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented our city with an unprecedented challenge, with residents, businesses and key workers having to work hard to adapt to public health guidance and new ways of life. Since the pandemic was declared, the Council has prioritised resources to deliver crucial and urgent support to communities and businesses across the city.
As demand for services has increased, income has considerably fallen, leaving the Council with an estimated budget shortfall of £20 million, which like all local authorities across the country, puts important services at risk. Despite promises from government ministers in March to cover expenditure, central government continues to fall short of delivering financial support to local authorities.
On top of this, the national Test, Trace and Isolate system is failing to provide the capacity, agility and accessibility promised and required. This is leaving local public health teams to deal with the consequences of national failures, delivering crucial local support without the necessary funding in place.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Council, commented:
“The last 6 months has been an unprecedented challenge for our city. Despite this, we have seen the very best brought out in people, as countless amazing volunteers have stepped up and communities have come together to support each other.
“The ongoing efforts displayed by residents and businesses to keep each other safe are truly incredible. Whilst as a council we have done all we can to help those struggling throughout this challenging time, in order to ensure that residents and businesses are protected and supported in the second wave of the pandemic, further urgent government support is required to help keep our city and each other safe.
“Having been promised the financial support and a ‘world-beating’ Test and Trace system, this Government continues to fail to deliver. Whilst significant lobbying has taken place throughout the pandemic, I'm glad to see councillors from across the political spectrum backing our calls for a truly cross-party effort to make it clear that our local communities urgently need the support promised months ago.”
Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, added:
“The selflessness and community spirit we have witnessed over these last months has been wonderful to see. Sadly, the pandemic is not over and we have to continue in our efforts to protect each other.
“An effective Test and Trace system is crucial to slow the spread of the virus and protect our health and livelihoods. However, after months of promises, we continue to see the system fall short of expectations. Increased testing capacity, more local cooperation and comprehensive investment in local public health teams is crucial to our local efforts.
“This winter will see our city face further challenges, the Government must finally work with local public health teams to deliver a system, which will protect our city as well as the local NHS.”
Full Council meeting took place on the 29th October. For more information, please visit: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=331&MId=12406