Cambridgeshire County Council update 17th April 2020

Social distancing measures set to continue for a further three weeks

Last night the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced a further three weeks of its social distancing measures.

This follows the news from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that the infection rate appears to be decreasing, but that any change in social distancing now could trigger a second peak, placing further pressure on the NHS and economy.

Today, our council leaders commented on the Government’s announcement and gave these messages to residents in both Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Councillor Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “The Covid-19 virus has made a huge difference to all our lives over the last few weeks, however, the social distancing guidelines do need to continue to prevent a second wave. I’m urging all Cambridgeshire residents to stay patient and continue to follow the Government’s advice.”

Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “Covid-19 is a cruel virus that has taken far too many people from us too soon. By continuing to follow the Government’s social distancing guidelines we can prevent a second wave, protecting both the NHS and the economy. I’m urging all city residents to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Both leaders have also recorded a vlog with these messages included which is on our Peterborough and Cambridgeshire YouTube channels.

Key highlights from the Countywide Coordination Hub

Last month the Countywide Coordination Hub was launched to help those people in our communities who are at the highest risk and shielded during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The hub will help ensure that services provided by key workers, such as care for the elderly, are able to continue through the redeployment of staff and the deployment of volunteers.

It also co-ordinates the distribution of support to the most vulnerable shielded group, whether it is food, medicine or social aspects. In addition, it works closely with the district/city hubs to ensure all vulnerable people are supported.

Here are some key highlights resulting from the work of the hub this week:

Shielded list

We have so far received the details of around 13,000 people who have registered as needing to be shielded.  Of those other residents whom the NHS believe need to shield, the hub has contacted them by letter encouraging them to do so.  The hub has also responded to 1,700 direct requests for help and support.

To ensure we keep in contact with this ever-growing group of people, 150 redeployed staff and volunteers have been identified to make telephone contact with shielded people each week, to check they have what they need and where support needs are identified.

Access to food

As more and more shielded people successfully register, they are given access to supermarket home delivery slots or are registering to receive food parcels arranged through a national scheme.  However, for many, neither option is suitable and so we are also using our volunteers to collect groceries ordered via click and collect and delivering food supplies from our warehouse to residents in emergency situations.  Around 250 emergency deliveries have been made so far and these continue.

PPE delivery to pharmacies

National supplies of PPE were received at our warehouse this week.  The first delivery went to 151 pharmacies across the county.  The Red Cross volunteers are doing an amazing job sorting, organising and delivering supplies.

Offers of mutual aid

The hub continues to receive information about mutual aid offers right across the county.  These offers of support are being added to either the Cambridgeshire Directory or the Peterborough Information Network.

Where possible, we want people to access support from these organisations or groups, or from friends, family and neighbours, to make sure help available from the countywide and district/city hubs is prioritised for those who need them most.

Find out more about our Coordination Hub on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough websites.

Virtual council meetings to begin in Cambridgeshire

Members have agreed a protocol to allow virtual formal meetings to take place at Cambridgeshire County Council during the remainder of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Committee meetings will now be conducted using the Zoom software platform.  They will be livestreamed on the council’s YouTube channel for members of the public and the media to watch – with the exception of confidential items – which will be discussed in private as usual.

Public questions can be submitted in written form and will be published on the council’s website prior to the meeting taking place.  Meetings will be recorded to allow people to watch them afterwards if they can’t log on during the event itself.

This protocol will allow the council to continue to conduct the vast majority of its democratic decisions remotely, while adhering to the Government’s social distancing guidelines – and follows legislation which came into force on 4 April.

A list of decisions to be taken at formal meetings has been prepared for the next three months and the urgency of each decision will be marked as either high, medium or low – only decisions marked as high or medium will be taken to committee.  The list does not include monitoring or information items, as these will be circulated to committees via email.

Training is now taking place with members to help them get used to the new system and the first meeting will be Communities and Partnerships Committee on Wednesday, 22 April.

The protocol will be reviewed after one month of meetings.  For further information on the protocol, visit the council’s website.

A similar process is now being developed at Peterborough City Council.

Fire safety in the home

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service would like to remind residents to follow fire safety guidance in their homes.

As we prepare for at least 3 more weeks of isolation to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, it’s more vital than ever for us to practise sensible habits to help prevent fires.

The service has released a useful online booklet explaining good smoke alarm habits, how to avoid fires in your home, how to avoid electrical fires, how to plan an escape route and the benefits of making a bedtime checklist.

Read the full guidance here.

Help spread sunshine and joy by joining a virtual orchestra

If you fancy making your musical mark on the world from your own home, why not join Cambridgeshire’s online school orchestra?

In the first of a series of online initiatives, Cambridgeshire Music – the county’s music education hub – is inviting our county’s budding musicians to contribute to a virtual performance of the theme tune from the US TV classic, Hawaii-5-0!  Jog your memory of the happy vibes here.  Surfboards and shorts at the ready!

This invitation is open to everyone – regardless of ability, instrument or location.  You don’t need to be an expert.  Simply download your part and guidance sheet from this Dropbox link here and follow the instructions.

You can send a video file (mp4) or an audio file (mp3) via a WeTransfer link to  Remember, if you providing a video clip, you are giving your permission for us to edit and use your contribution in the final performance.

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 24th April, and the final masterpiece will be available on Monday, 27th April.