Cabinet has this week welcomed the latest findings from the Local Government Association (LGA) on the council's response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and progress on the Recovery and Renewal plan for Barnsley.
Barnsley Council undertook an LGA recovery and renew panel session which provided an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and learning in their response to the crisis and consider steps to take towards the borough's recovery.
The LGA highlighted the council's hard work to support local communities and businesses through the pandemic, which it noted, has often involved going 'above' and beyond' what might be expected of a council in more 'normal' times. The panel also said that the council had demonstrated clear and determined leadership of place and noted many examples of good practice including early payment of business grants and comprehensive support to care homes.
Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: "We are grateful from the support and guidance of the LGA as we work on the recovery of our borough, and the renewal of our ways of working and delivery of services and are very pleased that they have recognised all the efforts the council have gone to support businesses and residents.”
"Our response has been thoughtful, strategic and focused on supporting our residents, businesses and communities and protect lives. This has been made possible by our strong partnership working with our neighbouring councils, health partners, Sheffield City Region and South Yorkshire Police, and pre-existing neighbourhood working and the effective involvement of Area Teams and Barnsley CVS. The focus on effective partnership working arrangements proved their worth, particularly with our ability to work closely with schools to ensure they were opened on time and in line with government timeframes. We are committed to managing vulnerability risks and supporting children and young people's lost learning. We intend to build on our partnership approach's success and be even stronger through coordinated ways of working with volunteers beyond the crisis.
Cllr Alan Gardiner, Cabinet Spokesperson for Core Services added: "Through our excellent track record for sound financial management, we've been able to use our resources to support thousands of businesses and our economy ahead of government allocations - with early business grant payments and essential advice through Enterprising Barnsley. Despite the pandemic's financial impact, we have achieved a balanced budget for this year and the next. As part of this, we continue to look towards the future and are firmly committed to maintaining services and supporting our businesses, ensuring that our town centres and high streets thrive as part of our borough's recovery.
"The benefits of our 'One Council' approach enabled us to accelerate our plans, providing our flexible workforce opportunities to home-work and be redeployed, where possible, to support vulnerable members of the community and maintain key services. The findings of the report also highlight our rapid movement to virtual delivery of all statutory meetings, all of which is an exceptional recognition of our capable and committed workforce.”
The council recognises the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has on the wellbeing, economic and health of the communities and will continue to incorporate this into the recovery work across the borough and South Yorkshire. The LGA also highlighted that the council has reacted to make changes and quickly implement new ways of working in order to deliver vital services. It is extremely positive that this has been thoroughly reflected in this review and the council is focused on providing continued support to meet the borough's needs.