Conservatives and Lib Dems at East Cambs Council unite to help with recovery of the district post Covid-19

Lib Deb Charlotte Cane and Conservative Anna Bailey bring both their parties together on East Cambs

Lib Deb Charlotte Cane and Conservative Anna Bailey bring both their parties together on East Cambs District Council to form a working group to help recovery from Covid-19. Picture; ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A working party is being set by East Cambridgeshire District Council to help speed recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cross party membership of the new group will work with businesses, community groups, parishes through to central Government to help drive the recovery.

Emma Grima, commercial director of East Cambs Council, says it will focus on “an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable recovery”.

The council is looking at initiatives it could help with including a business survey to identify needs and concerns and look way to change/improve the district.

Ms Grima says the draft terms of reference also include a possible parish council and community groups survey “to fully understand their needs and concerns and their capacity to assist with the recovery”.

The group will also look at the bus, walk and cycle consultation and to work with both the combined authority and the county council for “ speedy implementation to privilege promote active modes of travel to and within economic centres within the district”.

The working group will also look at the post Covid-19 housing market to see if there are better opportunities to build more affordable and social housing.

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Other initiatives will be to see how the council can speed up ultrafast broadband and 5G to help those working from home or in remote locations.

The setting up of the working group followed a decision by the council when both main parties, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, put aside their differences to agree a way forward.

Cllr Charlotte Cane said all had been affected by Covid-19 and sympathy was offered to those who had lost family, friends or their livelihood because of it.

She said thanks were given to those people who had offered services during the pandemic, including the vouncil staff and the parishes.

Businesses were facing their toughest challenge and the council should ensure community hubs survived. Some pubs had offered take-aways, some delivered and there had been one ‘pop-up’ shop to aid their communities.

She said the council also needed to ensure that quality housing was provided, so it must now invest in, and increase the amount of, social housing in the district to attract new businesses to the area.

The environment also had to be protected and enhanced, by encouraging cycling and walking schemes in consultation with disabled groups.

Cllr Cane felt the council had to capture all the benefits it could, including the community spirit engendered during this time.

She said the council must help that continue. The working party and council had to come up with answers and must work cross-party for a sustainable area.

Council leader Anna Bailey applauded the spirit of co-operation. A lot of work was already going on to aid the recovery from this pandemic.

She said that social recovery was being led by the county council and the economic recovery led by the combined authority. Positives had emerged and the council had to enhance these.

Cllr Bailey said that it would be good to build on the community spirit, including a co-ordinated response from parish councils and community groups, which had to be supported.

She felt there was a massive opportunity to do something and the council should endeavour to utilise this impetus to continue the good work done.

A great deal of energy at grass roots level had been generated in the midst of this crisis, which could last a long time, she added.

Bus services were already being looked at and some had already adapted to the current situation. The council was keen to recognise what had been done and to build on it for the future.

Cllr Bailey said that caution was urged when requesting information on this issue, so council officers did not get swamped. The bus working party was a good example of how the different political groups should work together to better good results.

Cllr Mark Inskip, said that it was important to look ahead so the council could help deal with the worst world health emergency in living memory and its impact on the economy.

He agreed the council needed to work together to make a difference; there would be more challenges ahead for housing and the rural area.