Leader's column: Action on coronavirus and domestic abuse

In her latest column, Tameside Council leader Cllr Brenda Warrington discusses two motions raised in the recent Full Council meeting - on the next steps to tackle coronavirus and domestic abuse.

Last Tuesday we held our summer meeting of Full Council. This is the second of these meetings to be held completely virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

I think it would be fair to say that when we made our plans for 2020, nobody would have expected things to turn out as they have.

But once again, the solidarity and courage of Tameside’s communities has shone through. I only wish that this had been matched by a helping hand from central government. In comparison to other countries in Europe and Asia, our response too has often fallen short. The cost may end up being counted in thousands of lives in our hospitals, in our care homes and in our communities.

The motions discussed in the meeting largely focused on the next steps to rebuild our economy and society after the coronavirus pandemic. 

The first, moved by Cllr Oliver Ryan, re-emphasised the financial challenges faced by councils up and down the country. 

The motion calls upon the government to provide the necessary funding not just to close the funding gap faced by councils, estimated by the Local Government Association to reach as high as £6 billion, but to also provide our key workers with the improvements in pay and working conditions that they deserve.

The second motion, moved powerfully by Cllr Eleanor Wills, committed us to cracking down on this scourge of domestic abuse in Tameside. 

One of the most troubling consequences of the lockdown is that the police in England and Wales have recorded an eight per cent increase in these crimes compared with the same period last year. There are a wide range of organisations and council services that work with local residents affected by domestic abuse, and we have called upon the government to build on the recent passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill through Parliament by providing the sustainable funding that they need to keep doing this vital work.

Finally, while our monitoring data suggests that the spread of coronavirus has been contained for the moment, the threat of infection, and even death, remains very real. 

I would ask you to keep taking all necessary precautions, including wearing face coverings in public and in shops, avoiding large crowds of people and practicing good hygiene at all times, as well as maintaining social distances. 

Rest assured that we will not hesitate to take whatever action is necessary to keep protecting residents and businesses in the borough.

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