The Chairman delivered an update to the Committee in relation to key developments that have taken place between Committee meetings from services within the Committee remit.
Needless to say, the response to COVID-19 has dominated developments to a large extent this year and some of our services have been on the frontline in terms of the Council’s operational response. As members will recall all too vividly, a range of measures were introduced in March which we had to respond to. And indeed, the March committee of Leisure & Environment was stood down as a result. Update reports and communications have been sent to members on the changes that took place so I don’t propose to repeat what has already gone before.
But I do, however, want to pay tribute to all those who had the arduous task of interpreting rapidly moving guidance from the Government, to ensure Newark & Sherwood was able to help with mitigating the spread of Covid 19 and ensuring our staff who had to maintain critical services were able to do so safely. Only one recycling round per household was lost as the Council made the shift from three refuse collectors in a cab to two in order to comply with the two metre social distancing rule.
And whilst there was a knock on effect to garden recycling and bulky waste services as residual waste was prioritised, all services were reinstated by June 1. Indeed, I’m pleased to be able to inform members of the Committee that since the reinstatement of the garden recycling service, the Council has managed to generate an additional 1,400 customers to the service which is hugely positive in the circumstances.
As members will be aware, the Council’s leisure centres were closed from March until August as part of the response to mitigating the spread of Covid-19. And there is a report later on the agenda in relation to Active4Today and what the impact has been so I won’t go into any more detail now. But I do want to update members on the positive news that proposals for the new pool at the Dukeries Leisure Centre were approved by the Police and Finance Committee in June with planning permission for the development being granted in August. I’m delighted to inform you that work on the pool began in early September with the completed facility due for handover to Active4Today in the summer of next year. This is a hugely positive outcome for the people of Ollerton and its surrounds, and finds a much-needed solution to swimming pool access which this Committee is all too aware of.
I also want to update the Committee on the work that colleagues in Environmental Health have been playing in trying to prevent Newark going into a local lockdown which was a real possibility in early August. Members will be aware that the town was put on the Government watchlist as the number of cases per 100,000 over a seven day period exceeded 20 for a consistent period of time. Officers in environmental health worked with colleagues in public health to track and trace cases, as part of a major effort to prevent a wider community outbreak. As a result of their efforts, the community and local businesses, Newark saw a significant reduction in cases and came off the Government watchlist earlier this month.
As a result of Covid, however, some plans have not been able to progress as we would have liked or were anticipating. So, for example, the very much valued Days of Action programme has not been able to progress this year as planned. Days were due to take place in Southwell, Bilsthorpe and Clipstone, but these have had to be put on hold and I’m sure Committee members will understand why.
However, I’m assured by officers that Days of Action in those communities will be honoured as soon as the circumstances allow. Similarly, progress with the Council’s anti-flytipping campaign, Not in Newark & Sherwood, has not progressed as was anticipated, as resources were diverted to prioritising the delivery of critical residual waste services and mitigating the local outbreak of Covid-19. But again, the plans have only been paused and a report updating members more fully on a revised programme will be brought to the committee cycle in November.
Finally, a financial report setting out how the budget has been affected by Covid is contained on the agenda so I won’t go into any more detail here. I hope this update has been helpful and unless there are any questions, I would propose we move on to the next item on the agenda.