Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor: ‘Together we can and will get through this’

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor has appealed to residents amid the current crisis. Pi

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor has appealed to residents amid the current crisis. Picture: SBC - Credit: Archant

In the midst of the current coronavirus crisis, our motto ‘the heart of a town lies in its people’ has never been more important than it is now.

We can and will get through this by supporting each other, helping the vulnerable to stay safe, and doing all we can to protect our local economy. Together we can and will do this.

Our approach has been to work across the political parties. Our Stevenage Borough Council executive and our opposition leaders have been meeting as the Emergency Planning Committee, to receive updates on plans to make sure we are responding effectively. We have also been hearing from our contacts within the community and businesses.

Unfortunately, we have already had to make some tough decisions regarding stopping some of our non-essential services to help us focus on those that are essential.

We know for instance that Stevenage community centres are at the very heart of community life in our neighbourhoods but, sadly, we had to close them as it would simply not be responsible to allow communal activities to continue during the current pandemic.

We will be working with our community centres to assess how the council can support them through this difficult period, including financially. We want to help them to be ready to come back quickly as soon as it is safe to do so.

I want to reassure you that Stevenage Borough Council will do everything it can to support its residents and businesses who are struggling with their finances due to the problems caused by this worldwide crisis.

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Please call the council as soon as you know you will have a problem, whether that is with your rent, council tax or other costs – and we will help with advice, benefits checks and discretionary relief where appropriate.

Our Stevenage Helps number for our residents to call if they need help with shopping, medicines collection, advice or support is 01438 242453. Thank you to all our partners who are working with us on this project.

No one should find themselves homeless, particularly at this difficult time, and there will be no evictions from council properties over at least the next three months as we tackle the public health crisis together. We have been able to find accommodation for most of our rough sleepers in Stevenage but if you are worried about someone, please let us know.

Lastly, I would like to say a big thank you to all our staff for continuing to maintain vital services during this difficult time. It hasn’t been easy and we do appreciate the public’s patience and understanding as we work our way through it.

Thank you to all those of you who have taken the advice to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. As ever, our priority is to keep safe the people who are always the heart of our town.

Be careful, stay safe and let’s all work cooperatively to get through this together.