Instead, we need to continue to closely follow government guidelines, so that we do not risk another peak in coronavirus cases.

Two things are very clear to me. Our focus needs to be on supporting the most vulnerable, and helping our businesses to get back on their feet. What's more, I believe we can all have a role in helping these two groups.

The response we have had from our local communities and parish councils has been astonishing.  So many people are looking out for neighbours, friends, family and those who are vulnerable and I would like to thank you for the role you are playing. It's vital that we pull together at times of crisis, and you have all definitely done that. This has worked brilliantly alongside the support from the community hub, which is has been assisting those who have no one to help them. It is likely that this type of support will be required for some time. The government has said that we will not be completely out of this situation until a vaccine is found, and so your continued support is needed more than ever.

I also want to mention the charities and community groups, such as Stonepillow, Four Streets, Heart and the Chichester Food Bank, who support those who are homeless or struggling. This assistance is so important and these groups and charities rely on public support. So, please continue to support them in whatever way you can. I know that Stonepillow are holding a fundraising event 'the little big sleep out at home' on 16 May, and we know that some of the other charities are not receiving as much food from local suppliers because they are not open. If you are in a position to help in any way, please do. We are very proud to work alongside these charities and are very thankful for the role they play.

Supporting our local businesses is more important than ever - and this is where we all have a role to play. Every time you think of ordering something, please look to see if there is a local option first. Many of our businesses operate online, or are now offering a take away or delivery service. If we all try and buy local first, it will make a big difference and help our businesses to get back on their feet. Our district is renowned for its independent shops and businesses. They need us now more than ever. Our Economic Development and Revenues teams have spoken with hundreds of businesses since this crisis began offering support and guidance, as well as making sure that they are accessing all of the financial help that is on offer. We're also very proud to be sponsoring the 'Open for Business' campaign that the Observer series is running in support of local businesses.

Once we have a clearer picture of the government's plans, we will share with you how we plan to respond to the recovery stage of this crisis. What is vital is that we continue to work together, and by doing this we will get through this.

Finally, I want to thank again our remarkable NHS colleagues - we will be forever indebted to you. I also want to thank all of the key workers, including our own council staff, public sector partners, carers, teachers, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, who are also placing a vital role in this crisis. Thank you!

Best wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council