Coronavirus update from Jeff Harris – Surrey County Council

If all the scientific and medical advice and guidance is correct, and I’ve no reason to disbelieve anything they say, then we are approaching a significant point in the Pandemic, sadly, with many more deaths, but possibly slightly fewer people contracting the disease. This is quite frightening to see and read and sounds strange, but that’s the way pandemics work. It doesn’t mean we’re ‘out of the woods’ any time soon.

That means simply, for all of us, the guidance still stands – social isolation, wash hands-20 seconds at least, and if you really have to go out and its ‘essential’, 2 metres distancing, and above all, shielding the most vulnerable in our communities (the people who are the most at risk of dying if they contract the disease)…that’s several hundred, just in my ‘patch’.

So for everyone’s sake, please listen to the real experts, not some pseudo-intellectual expert or media commentators or even entertainer who wants the limelight.

At Surrey County Council (like Reigate and Banstead) the ‘Business’ continues as much as possible, with most staff, where they can, working from home. This slows things down a shade, but our staff have responded magnificently to the challenge and will do their best…

Helplines: Surrey: 0300 200 1008 and Reigate and Banstead 01737 276 000

But, in addition and behind the scenes is something called the Local Resilience Forum-a Partnership at strategic level trying to get us all through the pandemic. Its headed up by the senior managers of Surrey County Council, Surrey Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, and the liaise with Districts and Boroughs and many other organisations, such as the Army, Voluntary and Faith Sector and Central Government 24/7, responding to all sorts of challenges across the County. (All in addition to their ‘day jobs’). It worked magnificently during the flooding a few years ago. But because its behind the scenes few know of its existence.

A flavour of just some of the sub groups they are working on is here:

  • Welfare (Volunteers and Vulnerable People coordination)
  • Excess Death Planning Group
  • Key/Critical Workers
  • Infrastructure (waste, water, power, critical infrastructure, roads and buildings etc)
  • Multi-Information Group (communications)
  • Staffing, Skills and Workforce Group
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Community Care Settings
  • Surge Capacity (across the health and social care system)
  • Recovery coordinating group (return to normality planning)

Each of these work streams has a dedicated project team working 24/7 made up of professionals across all partner organisations, with the support of the private sector, volunteers, central government department representatives and military planners from the Ministry of Defence. These workstreams feed into daily Tactical and Strategic coordination groups.

Some of the words are a bit jargonistic, but I’m sure you get the flavour of how complex the situation is, and how fast moving-on your behalf.

I’ll finish tonight with a plea – Do you know you neighbours? If not, how about a quick call, shout out, etc to see if they are ok or need something…..

Don’t forget – We’re all neighbours.

My best wishes,

Jeff. Harris

Surrey County Councillor

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