Cllr Susan Dungworth
Cllr Susan Dungworth

As a second wave of Covid threatens, Labour is pleading with the leaders of Northumberland County Council to listen to its officers to help them tackle the pandemic.

Leader of the Labour group Susan Dungworth said: “It’s pretty clear that we’re not out of the woods with Covid-19 and we could even be facing a second wave of the pandemic.

“We have paid tribute to the officers of the council who responded magnificently to the many demands from national government and worked tirelessly in the interests of Northumberland people.

“In our view there was far too much national guidance and far too little reliance on the people who know their areas the best; our local council officers and workforce.

“Nationally the government seems to be handing over the handling of the pandemic to local councils. We wish they had done this in the first place because this is where the knowledge lies.

Unfortunately, although the responsibility for managing local lockdowns has been passed to councils, they are still being involved in the decisions too late.  Only last night we saw Directors of Public Health learning of lockdown in their areas by Twitter, with less than 3 hours before the changes came into force. They, along with the local councils, were then responsible for implementing these changes and communication them to their residents.  This is not acceptable.

“Public health teams already have effective track and trace in place; it’s part of the bread and butter of a public health service. However, austerity cuts have put enormous pressure on the service. This needs to be addressed.

“We’re asking council leaders to ensure they draw on the expertise available at a local level when drawing up plans to make sure they are well prepared for whatever comes our way.”

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