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Leader provides an update from Council

Posted on 9 Apr 2020

It has now been over two weeks since we were put into ‘lockdown’.

We’ve all had to change the way we live our lives and the Council has also had to change the way in which we operate and deliver services to communities.

I know its been a hugely challenging time for everyone. It is difficult not being able to do the things we normally take for granted. It’s particularly difficult being unable to spend time with loved ones and we’re now approaching the Easter weekend which is usually a time to get together with family and friends.

But we are all part of a societal effort to keep people safe and to beat this virus. And beat it we will, together.

It is also a hugely challenging time for the Council. Resources are stretched,  tough decisions have had to be made but underpinning all of them was a need to prioritise our most vulnerable residents and maintain our key services.

 North Ayrshire Council recognises that people are struggling with the changes this virus has brought, both in terms of being able to afford essentials such as food but also in accessing essential items like food and prescriptions.

 Our holiday schools meal programme, delivered in normal times, has always been a source of huge pride for myself and every one at the Council and it was important that vulnerable families continued to be supported during this unprecedented crisis - and I couldn’t be prouder of the work that’s being carried out.

 We are delivering free food packs to families in need and will now reach almost 4,000 households each week. That’s an incredible achievement.

 Having already launched a service for families whose children receive free school meals and/or clothing grants, the scheme has been widened to include more people.

 The expansion will see food packages delivered to those homes most in need and means the Council will now reach almost double the number of households. This is an incredible response and effort from staff. There are clearly huge logistical challenges to overcome but we are working extremely hard to provide an invaluable service.

 What I would say to people is this a huge undertaking so we might not get everything out on time. But please be patient as the staff have absolutely thrown themselves into making this work.

 Every single member of staff involved in delivering this service is a hero and I am indebted for their dedication to public services and supporting our communities, something they do everyday of the year but illustrated even more in these times. They are an outstanding team.

 The Covid-19 crisis is affecting all of us. The only way we can overcome it is we work together and follow the guidelines.

 We don’t always like making the decisions we do. But sometimes we simply have to look at the wider public health imperative in this fight.

 That’s why we decided to close a lot of our car parks last weekend.  We understand that a minority of people may have been unhappy with the decision but we felt it was absolutely the right thing to do.

 We said last week we would keep the use of these car parks under review but the feedback from Police Scotland of people travelling from far and was simply too worrying to ignore. We will keep these car park closures under constant review, with a view to re-opening car parks as soon as it is safe to do so. But for the moment the overriding priority for everybody is people’s health and we will take no chances with that.

 We appreciate that life is difficult just now but I would just like to say a huge thanks to all those who are volunteering or helping to make a difference. Kindness can go an awful long way, particularly during times likes these. Keep looking out for each other.