Like many organisations and work places over the last few months, our council has had to adapt the way in which we deliver our services in response to the coronavirus pandemic. We have had to do this very quickly. For example, we have developed a centralised administration service, to support our teams, we've introduced new technology to continue to deliver our services. We've also changed some of our working methods such as accepting photographic evidence which has reduced the need for site inspections.

It's extremely important that we learn from the lockdown experience, and so we have identified a number of improvements and ways in which we can make our services more efficient in the future. Each of our teams is now looking at what they have learnt during this unusual period, how they have adapted and how they see their service being delivered in the future.

Working from home has become a feature for many of our staff during the pandemic and so as part of the recovery we are looking at providing more equipment and improving the connection to our IT systems from staff members' homes to make things easier and quicker.

We are expecting social distancing to be a key feature of our lives for some time and therefore there are limits to how many staff we can have in the office at anyone time. However, there is an expectation from September that staff will come to work in the office for part of the week and work from home the rest of the week..

The way we have adapted to the current situation also gives us an opportunity to consider whether we will still need the same size building in the future. We will be reviewing our use of East Pallant House, and also consulting with other organisations that are based within the building, to see what our needs will look like. I must stress that we will not be making any immediate decisions on this, it will take time and a lot of consideration, with input from staff, members and communities.

As part of the recovery process we will be assessing what our communities and businesses need in order to get back on their feet, and we will need to prioritise our services to match these needs. Our statutory services - those that we must provide by law - will be considered first and then we will think about the services that we would like to provide. We will of course involve you, our councillors and staff in this process.

The council needs to do this work because it does not know what level of income it will receive in future years, and it doesn't know how quickly the district will recover economically.

You may be aware that the council's finances have been affected by COVID-19 and although we have healthy levels of reserves that can help us get weather this in the short-term we are legally required to balance our budget. Although we are facing a challenging time, I want to reassure you that we are working hard to support our district and that by adapting and reviewing what we are doing we will ensure that we support our communities in the best way.

Councillor Peter Wilding

Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate Services and Revenues and Benefits