‘We can’t suddenly give up on social distancing,’ says Ipswich council leader

People queue up to get into a Tesco store. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

People queue up to get into a Tesco store. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

In his latest column, Ipswich Borough Council leader DAVID ELLESMERE looks at how changes to the current coronavirus restrictions might affect the town.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

I am writing this ahead of Sunday’s statement by the prime minister but it seems clear that, whatever he announces, the current situation will not change radically in the short term.

And whatever loosening of the lockdown there may be, that does not mean we can suddenly give up on social distancing. Ipswich Borough Council will have to continue supporting the most vulnerable in our society.

It is also clear that it will be some time before council revenue-generating services like sports centres, the Regent and Corn Exchange will be able to re-open.

The government has allocated Ipswich an extra £1.4million to cover losses in income and extra costs, but this only met April’s financial impact. So, we are having to look at other actions to save money such as the furloughing over 200 employees for an initial three-week period which will save £100,000.

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Friday saw the celebrations of 75 years since VE Day. While we should be careful about overplaying historical comparisons, one of the things that has always impressed me is how much planning the wartime Government did for what should happen after the war, long before the fighting had ended and victory was secured.

That is what we need to do now.

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We are slowly reintroducing services where safe to do so. This week we will resume Ipswich’s garden waste collections. Construction work on council projects such as the new houses at Old Norwich Road has also resumed.

And we are working with our partners to plan for how we might help – when the government gives us the OK – to re-start something like ‘normal’ life in our town centre.

However, we will do nothing that risks efforts to turn back the tide of coronavirus.

This pandemic has brought tragedy to many thousands of families – including well over 50 in Ipswich – and it is not over yet. The loss of life has been shocking and our hearts go out to those who grieve and also to those in the NHS and the care sector who are in the frontline.

Whatever happens, we will continue to be careful as we begin to move forward.

We will come through this but there is still much to be done.

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