Agenda item

To Announce any Urgent Business Agreed by the Chair


There was none.


The Chair used this opportunity to read out the following statement:


‘Good evening.  I would like to make a statement about the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our community and our Council, and on the Council’s approach to it. 

Cllr Richard Samuel will provide further detail shortly, but at a time when Central Government’s messaging is all about freedom and an end to the dark days, I have to warn you that we are far from through the worst of the effects of this crisis, and, indeed, I expect things to get significantly worse before we can expect to see any real signs of improvement.

As you know, the level of infections within the Bath & North East Somerset area is continuing to rise and is now higher than the general rate in England or within the South West Region.  The impacts of this, and the associated strain from the number of local people receiving messages from the NHS App to self-isolate are adding intense pressure to the essential services provided by the Council and by our partners.  All of our key services are now under unprecedented strain, and some – I must be honest – are close to breaking point. 

And I want to pay tribute here to our wonderful staff, who are facing immense challenges every day, who are going about their jobs with calm professionalism and incredible dedication, and who continue to deliver awesome levels of service in our communities.  Will Godfrey and his team are doing a magnificent job, and we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.  I couldn’t be prouder to be Leader of this council at this time.  Thank you all for what you do.

I can’t promise that we will be able to maintain all our services at regular levels through the months to come.  Some of our neighbouring councils are already suspending some refuse and other services in the face of the difficulties we are all encountering.  But I can promise you this: the commitment of this council to deliver for its residents – whatever the challenges – remains undimmed.  Our team remains determined to continue to deliver to the very best of its ability.

Yesterday, as you know, the Government dropped the final rules and controls it had imposed to keep people safe in the face of the dangers of the Covid 19 pandemic.  We, as a council, have reviewed the situation carefully – driven by the Public Health advice, by the wishes of our staff and by sound common sense.

We have decided that it is both prudent and proper to keep some measures in place on Council properties, such as the Guildhall, our offices and our visitor attractions.  We ask people coming to these premises to continue to wear masks or other face coverings – unless for medical reasons they are unable to do so – and to continue to wear them when moving around within the buildings.

We want people – whether colleagues or visitors - to feel both safe and confident in our places of work, and to show each other the respect and consideration which the last sixteen months have shown us is both effective and wise. 

So I ask everyone, please, to continue to make these small sacrifices for the common good of us all.  I will wear a mask to keep you safe, and I ask that you extend that same courtesy and care to others, so that we, as a community, can come through these dark days together, and look forward with confidence to better times and to soundly and scientifically-based freedoms in the future.

Thank you. ‘


Councillor Dine Romero – Cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, read out the following statement:


‘Like it or not COVID restrictions have been lifted by Government.

This Lib Dem administration and our residents are very worried that the end of most restrictions has come in now, while case rates are rising, and the RUH is receiving more serious cases.

Remember that we are not allowed by law to hold these meetings in any other way than as a physical meeting.

Government guidance is not being driven by the science. Data has been thrown to the wind and our residents are now more at risk than ever before with the onus now resting on us to use our personal judgement to protect ourselves but with no directive to protect others.

Infection rates are now over 1000 in Bath & North East Somerset which is above both the SW and English average.

We in this council will be encouraging our staff to remain cautious and to look out for each other. We will be encouraging all to wear masks when entering and moving about council buildings and maintaining a metres distance wherever possible. We will continue with our regime of cleaning, of wiping down surfaces after use, washing hands and following one-way systems.

These expectations are for our staff and for everyone who accesses our buildings. These measures are being followed for all those attending this meeting.

We will continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, and to take lateral flow tests twice a week, 3-5 days apart. And to self-isolate if the test is positive, or if they are asked to do so due to close contact with a positive case.

The key messages we are giving, are for all to remain responsible, COVID has not gone away, we are still in a global pandemic.

I wanted also to take this opportunity to speak of the challenges that our schools and early years settings have faced. And would like to express my thanks, and the thanks of the DPH, and Director of education, and indeed of the whole council, to leaders and staff for their continued hard work support, and dedication to our CYP. We recognise that the past 18 months have been extremely difficult, and many have had to make sacrifices.

Staff have risen to every challenge that has come their way, including responding to the continuous and rapidly changing guidance and national policy.  And indeed, to the many times when there hasn’t been adequate guidance.

Schools have had to change how they operate, to running combinations of on-line and physical classrooms, to never knowing whether there will enough staff or how many children would be in any one setting from day to day.

We are acutely aware this has had, and still has, an unbearable toll on school leaders, teachers, support staff, and on our CYP themselves.

The guidance for schools came to a muddled stop at the end of last week. Our PH and schools teams have worked amazingly hard to ensure that all schools have some clarity on how to work in this last week of term, and what to expect from September onwards.

I would like to end by thanking again but no less sincerely our schools and early years staff, and all those in the council who supports our education settings and wish everyone a much needed and well-earned break over the summer holidays.’  


Councillor Alison Born – Cabinet Member for Adult Services, read out the following statement:


‘The health and social care system have been experiencing significant pressures for several months as demand increases and all areas suffer staff shortages.

Mental health services have been particularly badly affected with a significant increase in demand and people experiencing greater complexity in their conditions. This includes an increase in the number of young people experiencing mental health problems, particularly eating disorders.

There has been a rise in s136 detentions (Police detention in a public place) for young people and adults, with delays to admission due to a shortage of in-patient beds for these very vulnerable people.

In addition, there are significant delays in discharging people from the RUH into reablement services. People being discharged have increasingly complex needs and staffing shortages in reablement are resulting in long delays. There is also a shortage of capacity within the home care market which is compounding the issue.

Adult Social Care have seen an increase in those waiting for an assessment, with 50 people waiting more than 28 days for an urgent assessment.

Demand continues to increase and the rise in Covid rates over the last three weeks has exacerbated the staffing crisis. Our Community Resource Centres have been impacted by staff needing to self-isolate and we have struggled to secure agency staff. We are seeing a small but rising rate of Covid infections amongst staff in the independent care home sector which if it continues to rise will impact on their ability to care for their residents.

Staff continue to work hard to mitigate the risks across the system, including risk assessing those waiting and prioritising those most at risk. They are also focusing on recruitment and retention of staff and working to increase home care capacity.

Adult social care provision has been precarious for a number of years and successive governments have promised to fix it, but action has not been taken. Those long-standing problems have been exacerbated by the twin challenges of Covid which has increased demand and Brexit which has significantly reduced the availability of staff in the sector.

Speculation that the government is planning to raise additional funds for adult social care through national insurance payments provides some hope but it appears that this funding may be used to bring down hospital waiting lists in the short term (how long will that be for) and will then be targeted on capping individual liability to social care costs rather than on developing robust, resilient services that can be relied on to meet need in a timely manner. The pressures faced in BANES are being experienced across the Country and we are in contact with colleagues to support and learn from other systems but these services cannot be fixed without significant investment across the system and a recognition that urgent action is needed to address staff shortages.’