Councillor Mrs Gabrielle Spray has already commented on the impact of the virus on the District and the magnificent response of the Council staff in her report. The way in which the council finances and services continued to operate so smoothly, and how council staff and officers, and local businesses, institutions and residents, coped with the changes, restrictions and deprivations of lockdown has been nothing short of uplifting. Confirmation that the financial situation at BDC has been so well managed and really was, and remains, in such good shape, was a great comfort in this time of national emergency. The realization that our communities, embodied by the parish councils, local groups and volunteers, are not only alive but so very strong has been genuinely heart warming.
However, as well as the appalling human tragedies, we are all aware of at least some of the devastating social and financial repercussions for so many local charities, businesses, families and individuals.
Many of us, including me, have found virtual meetings deeply unsatisfactory, stifling spontaneity and creativity, as they do, and compromising clarity, empathy and basic human interaction. They make it harder to read the mood of groups and to foster relationships, and they favour the confident and bombastic over the more cautious and considered. I have been disappointed not to have seen more of you in the flesh.
Whenever possible I have tried to physically meet ward members who have contacted me, often in their gardens. Though much, perhaps even the majority, of this contact has been about planning, potholes and traffic, or lockdown, a considerable proportion has related to agricultural entities, particularly the smaller ones, and rural issues, perhaps because I am a partner in a local farm.
I have derived enormous satisfaction from the clear and prompt advice and concrete financial assistance given to many by the Council Officers I was able to direct them towards, and look forward to getting back into Causeway House as soon as possible to thank them in person.
I am also very grateful to have the Councillors’ Community Grant to allocate to specific projects in our ward. To hear the new bell ropes funded in this way and installed in Pebmarsh Church in February, being ‘christened’ during the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral was wonderful.
As a Conservative District Councillor I very much look forward to the return of the old ways over the coming months.
The Colnes ward