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Group leaders: "coronavirus response is extraordinary"

Group leaders from all three political parties on Rugby Borough Council have thanked staff for their hard work and dedication, as letters to all households have started arriving through letter boxes.

Cllr Seb Lowe, Leader of Rugby Borough Council and leader of the Conservative Group, has been joined by Cllr Maggie O'Rourke, Leader of the Labour Group, and Cllr Jerry Roodhouse, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, in a cross-party show of support for the work of the council to support the borough's most vulnerable residents.

Since the nation has been subject to restrictions on movement and on social distancing, many council staff have been re-deployed from non-urgent roles to support the council's response to coronavirus. While essential services such as waste collections and the Lifeline service continue, other staff have transferred to help run the Foodbank, set up and operate the council's Community Hub, and provide back up to telephone or other support services.

Meanwhile, support staff have sent out more than 48,000 letters via Royal Mail to every household in the borough. The letters explain how residents can get help if they need it during the current restrictions.

The group leaders said: "The dedication of the council's staff over the last few weeks has been nothing short of extraordinary. Whilst continuing with statutory responsibilities such as planning and environmental health, staff have completely reorganised council services to support people in financial difficulties, pay business support grants, house rough sleepers and homeless residents, and of course run the Foodbank and create the Community Hub to support the most vulnerable with food and emotional support.

Across all services, including back-office support services, staff have shown flexibility and creativity, all whilst also dealing with their own personal circumstances. We would like to acknowledge their effort and thank them, on behalf of all our communities."

While the most important council services are continuing, some non-essential services have been stopped, either to support social distancing or to provide extra cover for other services.

The group leaders continued: "The tremendous efforts to support our most vulnerable residents and keep essential services going mean that other work must stop for now.

We would like to thank residents for their patience and understanding as services like grass cutting, gardening and leisure services are suspended. We hope that everyone will agree with us that these services can wait while staff support other parts of the council."

In acknowledging the work done so far the leaders also identified more work that would need to be done. They said: "Whilst much of the work to set up new systems and processes has been done, the hard work will continue over the coming weeks.

"So far only half of the businesses that are eligible for small business grants have come forward and completed their Confirmation Statement, so we will need to contact the remaining businesses to make sure they get their payment.

"And as people's circumstances change, we will need to support neighbourhoods and communities as they help each other, and provide financial or practical support to the residents for whom no-one else can help.

As group leaders, we are jointly committed to doing what is right for Rugby: we will help the residents who need us the most."

Information on financial support, support for businesses, the foodbank, community hub and changes to council services can all be accessed from www.rugby.gov.uk/coronavirus. Residents without access to the internet can call the council on (01788) 533533.

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