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Pandemic actions discussed as Cornwall Council's cabinet meets online for the first time

Cornwall Council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial pressures caused by the crisis were discussed as Cornwall Council’s cabinet committee met today.

The historic event, the first cabinet meeting to take place online, was held virtually, and broadcast to the public to ensure open democracy.

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At the start of the meeting, Cllr Julian German, leader of the council, outlined some of the global challenges facing Cornwall, including the effects of the pandemic, the ongoing fight against climate change, and the societal problems highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

He said:  “These past few months have been intense and challenging. However, they have also been inspiring and, despite the difficulties we have faced, I believe will offer an opportunity to build a better and stronger Cornwall for One and All.”

After questions from the public, the first major item for discussion was on the council’s response to the pandemic.  Each cabinet member ran through the actions taken within their individual portfolios, all thanking staff, residents, partners and community groups for their efforts during the crisis.

 

Cllr German told the meeting: “Leading at this time has been intense, hard and sometimes sleepless but it has been a privilege”.

“The potential for large scale loss of life focussed minds and I knew that there were going to be many tough decisions to take”.

“It was important to me that we had sound values upon which to take these decisions. We used the three values that have guided us throughout this administration:

  1. We listen: we will work with the people of Cornwall
  2. We are responsible: we will use resources wisely
  3. We act in the best interests of Cornwall: putting people first”

“Today’s meeting will reflect our response to the situation as it has unfolded which has indeed been unprecedented.”

He added:  “The challenges have been huge, and the pressure on the council as a whole has been intense.  However, I am proud of the way both Councillors and officers have risen to each and every challenge we have faced”.

"We reached out to partners early through the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board to establish strong collective leadership and one public voice for Cornwall – and I want to thank all the members of that board for their work and collaboration.

“Our work with them has shown how Cornwall is stronger together.”

Questions from councillors included widespread acknowledgement of the efforts of the community, volunteers, key workers and Council staff during the crisis, as well as specific queries over discretionary grants, Cornwall Airport Newquay and the effect of the pandemic on the council’s finances.

The council’s financial and performance report for the year 2019/20 was also discussed, which highlighted some of the initial pressures placed on the authority from the start of the pandemic.

Deputy leader, Cllr Adam Paynter, explained to the meeting that the authority will continue to lobby the Government for additional support as the economic impact of the lockdown continues to hit the local economy and negatively impact on the Council’s finances.

The cabinet also discussed the Capital Programme Outturn for 2019/20.

Cllr German closed the meeting, saying:  “I would like to thank councillors for following the new protocols and helping us hold a successful meeting.  Likewise, I would like to say thank you to the officers who have supported us today to ensure it all went smoothly.”