Southwark Council to move to ‘critical services’ amid coronavirus pandemic

Josh Salisbury (03 April, 2020)

“I hope residents understand why we have to do this,” he said

35496Southwark Council leader Peter John

Council leader Peter John says the town hall will have to move to critical services only from next week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He told the News this will mean a reduction from around two hundred council services to only twenty or thirty.

Those needed for the coronavirus response will continue, with the biggest change for council tenants being the lack of non-essential repairs being carried out.

“I hope residents understand why we have to do this,” he said, adding that he expected other London boroughs to soon make the move.

Local authorities across the country have raised concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff battling the coronavirus, including care workers.

The nature of the profession means carers cannot follow two metres social distancing at all times – raising concerns about their safety as they carry out the vital job.

“I’m hoping that our PPE is sufficient at this time for our home care workers,” said Cllr John. He appealed: “Please, if any of our care workers are missing personal protective equipment that they need, please let us know so that we can action it.”

Cllr John said he was sickened by a report by this newspaper of a Camberwell church selling an oil which it claimed would protect from coronavirus.

“It’s nonsense and it’s dangerous,” he said. “Anyone making a profit on the back of this crisis should be ashamed, it’s unacceptable and you are not welcome in our borough.”

The council’s top boss said he was not aware of any reports of businesses in the borough making their employees work in unsafe ways amid the coronavirus, despite reports of instances happening across the country.

“I’m not aware of any such reports,” he said. “No employer should be hassling their employees to come into work if it’s not essential work at this time.”

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