I would like to thank everyone for playing their part. The last four months have been difficult.
We have had one of the highest rates of positive Coronavirus tests in the country, but Public Health England believes new infections have started to plateau and are hopeful they may be starting to decline. We need to see more data before we can be sure.
That is not to say we should be complacent. We have only got to this stage because so many local residents have been sensible and worked hard to not put others at risk.
As we have seen in Leicester, a spike can suddenly appear and there is a significant chance of a second wave of infections in the future. As a result we are not in a position to reopen play parks, libraries, The Higgins Bedford or provide all of our services yet.
I would like to thank everyone who has stayed at home, worn a face covering while out in public or on public transport and stuck to the social distancing advice.
I would like to thank all the businesses, and from this last weekend, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers who have all worked so hard to ensure their premises have been safe for us to use.
I would like to thank all the NHS staff, all our carers and council staff, police and other emergency services who have been working hard to protect us all during this pandemic.
This week the Council adopted our Local Outbreak Control Plan.
The Plan details what we will do if there is a new spike in cases or a localised outbreak, for instance in a school or place of work. I hope we do not have to use it frequently, and not on a wide scale, but it is better to be prepared.
The Government has now published all the ‘pillar 2’ test result data which is good news. I am continuing to press for better and more detailed data. We should have the interim report of the Public Health England and Joint Biosecurity Centre’s ‘deep dive’ this week and that will help us ensure we are able to make the best decisions locally.
As you will be aware the Council is now facing a large budget deficit – larger than we have seen even through the last decade.
Back in March, the Local Government Secretary said, “The government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to support councils in their response to coronavirus”.
It is time for the Government to stand by those words.
I have set up a petition calling on the Government to fund all councils properly to prevent massive increases in Council Tax and cuts to services – please sign it at https://bedfordlibdems.org.uk/support and encourage your friends and family to do so too.
This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mayor Dave Hodgson and published unedited.