Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 18th March 2020

With the gradual escalation in Government advice around tackling Covid-19, the council has been stepping up work with partners to tackle the outbreak.

On the ground, crisis response is controlled by Local Resilience Forums (LRFs), comprised of local authorities, the NHS, and emergency services, in addition to other public bodies and companies regulating the national infrastructure. Due to its contagiousness, LRFs have been required to maintain plans for dealing with a serious influenza epidemic for some time and earlier this week I was on a conference call with ministers to ensure a joined up approach between national and local government for dealing with the spread of coronavirus.

With a public health system which is free at the point of use and a strong transport logistics, the UK is well-placed to weather the storm and, as ever, people panicking is always the greater problem than the issue they are panicking over. It is good to see that panic buying appears to have now come to an end, even if that is due to the intervention of supermarket bosses rather than the Government.

However, to protect vulnerable groups and limit the pressure on the health system, keeping person-to-person contact to an absolute minimum and ensuring strict adherence to rules around personal hygiene are vital. We all have direct personal responsibility for dealing with this crisis.

We are asking people to only visit the Town Hall in the event of an actual emergency and we will be cancelling council events for the time-being. The community’s reaction has been fantastic and we will be looking to work with volunteers and community groups to ensure that provision is put in place across Crawley to support those who required to self-isolate, particularly vulnerable adults.

I am also aware large numbers of residents face serious financial difficulties as a result of the epidemic, particularly those working in aviation, and I have raised with the Government and will continue to raise the importance of financial support being made available. We will also be looking to see what limited amount we can do locally to help provide such support.

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