In the speech to Full Council, leader Tim Oliver acknowledged that “we are in the midst of a public health emergency, one that will test our resilience as an organisation and will need strong leadership to guide us through.”
The leader praised the work already taking place in Surrey to deal with the impact of Coronavirus, noting that Surrey having the first confirmed contracted case within the UK “brought public health and communications challenges with it.”
He said: “We put in to immediate action our emergency response, which ensured that any public panic was restricted, that the right information was disseminated and that all our services were well prepared to deal with the ongoing disruption this caused.
The leader also pointed out that “the team remain on high alert.”
“Surrey County Council staff across the board are working tirelessly on this – supporting our schools and care facilities, liaising with our contractors and providers, working with districts and boroughs and health partners and communicating with our residents.
“Obviously, the updated guidance from Government means that society is fundamentally changing, for the short term at least…But essentially, we are a public service and our staff are proud and dedicated public servants.
“Our priorities at this time are to ensure that we do everything we can to reduce the pressure on the NHS, to protect our most vulnerable communities, and support our staff and residents.
“Legislation is being adapted nationally to guide the nation through this crisis, and we are ensuring our constitution here at Surrey County Council is updated to enable us to continue making the required decisions to keep Surrey functioning.”
Cllr Oliver also took the opportunity to thank Interim Director of Public Health, Ruth Hutchinson “for coordinating this work and showing the leadership so required in fast moving situations like this”, whilst also thanking the Communications team “who have been on call 24 hours a day.”