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No. Item


Declarations of Interest

To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any personal, disclosable pecuniary or other registrable interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.


There were no declarations of interest received.


Review of the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic pdf icon PDF 822 KB

Purpose: To provide an overarching summary of West Berkshire Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic for the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission (OSMC) to consider.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 3) concerning the Review of the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor Lee Dillon advised that Officers had been asked to provide a review of the Council’s response to the pandemic, to look at what had been exposed by the pandemic, the lessons learned, and changes that had been put in place, or were planned. The review would not take account of the response by health commissioners or providers since health scrutiny fell under the remit of the Health Scrutiny Committee.

Joseph Holmes provided a summary of the report, which highlighted the key areas of the response, based around the timeline of the pandemic and the various schemes, projects and actions that took place across the Council. The report was structured to look at those actions delivered for: residents; service users and businesses. He noted that Covid was still prevalent and so the response was ongoing.

The report highlighted some of the impact of the pandemic by numbers from March 2020 to September 2021, including:

1.     Over 11,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases (as of 7 September 2021)

2.     256 residents had died due to Covid-19 (i.e. within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test), including two members of the Council’s staff

3.     17,900 residents’ wages were funded through the furlough scheme at the peak of the take-up (Jun 2020)

4.     4,190 people contacted the Community Hub for support between 23 March 2020 and the beginning of July 2021

5.     Approximately 90 community groups, representing 2,000 local volunteers, assisted in the response – this included pre-existing community groups, as well as Town and Parish Councils, which also responded to provide practical support for members of their community.

6.     A number of asymptomatic, mobile testing and vaccination sites were established, providing ‘community collect’ and assisted testing.

7.     In excess of £100m of business rate relief and grants had been distributed

A video had been produced, which set out how the Council supported residents, service users and businesses in their response to the pandemic. Unfortunately, this could not be played at the meeting due to technical issues. [The video has  since been put on YouTube:] Joseph Holmes indicated that the video included commentary from the Leader and colleagues and focused on the human story. Councillor Lynne Doherty said the video showed how the Council’s role was to try to mitigate against the most serious aspects of the pandemic within the community. She was proud of the response, but was keen to hear feedback and acknowledged that there were always lessons to be learned. She noted that the Council was still responding and continued to work jointly with partners.

Councillor Dillon invited comments from Members of the Commission. He noted that there was lots of data in the report, but little about the quality of the response, the experience of customers, or what had been done with funds allocated. He proposed that a task group be set up to examine in detail the quality of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.