Posted: Thu 9th Jul 2020

Council start to ‘unlock’ services in a careful return to a ‘new normal’ for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

Wrexham Council has begun “unlocking” services that be can be provided safely during the the pandemic.

In March 2020 the local authority announced that it would suspend all but essential services while lockdown was enforced.

A report before councillors next week states ” The general principle is that unlocking of services at this time is on an exception basis, following national guidance, industry guidance and our own assessment of the changing circumstances and the safe opportunity to unlock a service.”

Although many staff employed continue to work from home, a number of services that the council say be carried out safely – most of which relate to the construction sector, the town centre and housing – have been “unlocked”. This also includes major capital works involving schools and Crown Buildings in Wrexham town centre.

Other ‘unlocked’ areas noted by the council included repair and maintenance in schools/corporate buildings as well as emergency work to complete roof repairs on council houses.

Earlier this week we asked Chief Executive Ian Bancroft and Council Leader Mark Pritchard what risk assessments have been carried out to ensure social distancing and health and safety for council staff.

Mr Bancroft said that due to the restrictions on travelling to work, the local authority would not be “unlocking individual buildings and saying they’re open for business.”

He added: “There is a whole series of risk assessments that we go through in terms of staff going back, social distancing taking place, buildings being appropriately signed and hand sanitisers being available at building entrances. All of those are part of our risk assessments.”

“Clearly in relation to testing, then there’s some quite strict criteria still about who should be tested. Clearly, if somebody has come into contact with somebody with COVID, they will get picked up through the test, trace and protect program.

“I know at the moment, antibody testing is going on for school staff, in terms of them being put forward for the antibody. So clearly we are making sure that our staff where it’s appropriate, go forward for the appropriate testing as well.”

Earlier today we reported the Welsh Government is set to release a revised testing strategy by the end of next week amid calls for a relaxing of ‘tight’ criteria for testing.

We also asked if there would be an increase in testing of those staff who have returned back to work. Something which Mr Bancroft indicated it would be ‘lovely’ to dip in to more testing capacity as an authority if the criteria loosened.

He said: “The criteria is very tight, so it would be lovely to dip into those tests, we can’t if the staff don’t meet the criteria.

“What we do raise, is if the fact we feel there should be changes to testing regimes, we obviously pick that up through our Local Government Association and with Welsh Government.

“If it loosened and that’s a Welsh Government decision, then we would obviously put staff forward within light of those criteria.”

A range of services are listed as ‘unlocked’ in the report before councillors next week:

  • construction – major capital works (schools, Crown Buildings) and repair
    and maintenance in our schools/corporate buildings
  • emergency work to complete roof repairs on Council houses
  • order and collect Library Service
  • Wrexham Town Centre
  • Water Main Replacement contract and planned maintenance
  • cleaning in schools
  • void clearances and cleaning
  • asbestos surveys and removal
  • DLO to work on Council housing voids and step up general repairs
  • Public Toilets
  • Bryn Lane Shop Nightingale House (no WCBC staff)
  • Business Support and Land charges, Planning
  •  Committee Services for Planning Committees
  • Youth Justice Service extension from lock down
  • Country Parks.

It is noted, “Each service has a recovery plan which will be implemented in phases and aim to reflect the new modern ways of working. The three core principles which all services will follow are: is it essential, is it safe and is it mutually agreed – before unlocking”.

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