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Agenda item

Making a Change to Improve the Borough as a Lasting Consequence of the COVID-19 Emergency

Councillor Munro will propose, and Councillor Jordan will second:

 

The COVID-19 emergency has been a difficult time for our country and our residents in Tewkesbury Borough. The Council has risen to the challenge and the officers are thanked for their hard work and determination to make services work as well as possible for local residents.

 

While life has been difficult, it is suggested that we use the opportunity to make a change to improve our Borough as a lasting consequence of the emergency. This does not have to be expensive but creative and beneficial to residents to make a change that matters for the future. Some years ago this Borough instigated a daffodil planting scheme and this could be built on to commemorate those in our Borough who died and other ideas could include increased tree planting, increased wildflower planting across our Borough or installing electric charging points in Borough owned car parks.

 

These are only examples and it suggested that the Council’s Recovery Plan includes costed proposals for a tribute and memorial to mark the COVID-19 emergency for Members to approve.

 

The Council is asked to:

 

1)     Issue a statement of intent to make one significant change post emergency for the benefit of its local residents.

2)     Include in its Recovery Plan, proposals for Members to support as a memorial to the COVID-19 emergency.

Minutes:

20.3          The Worshipful the Mayor referred to the Notice of Motion set out on the Agenda and indicated that, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure, it was necessary for the Council firstly to decide whether it wished to debate and determine the Motion at this evening’s meeting, or whether it wished to refer the Motion, without debate, to a Committee for consideration with authority either to make a decision on the matter or to bring a recommendation back to Council.

20.4          A recorded vote was requested and, upon receiving the appropriate level of support, voting was recorded as follows: 

For

Against

Abstain

Absent

R A Bird

 

 

P E Smith

G F Blackwell

 

 

C Softley

G J Bocking

 

 

S A T Stevens

C L J Carter

 

 

 

C M Cody

K J Cromwell

 

M Dean

 

 

 

R D East

 

 

 

J H Evetts

 

 

 

L A Gerrard

 

P A Godwin

 

 

 

M A Gore

 

 

 

D W Gray

 

 

 

D J Harwood

 

 

A Hollaway

 

 

 

M L Jordan

 

 

E J MacTiernan

 

 

J R Mason

 

 

 

H C McLain

 

 

 

P D McLain

 

 

 

H S Munro

 

 

 

J W Murphy

 

 

 

P W Ockelton

 

 

A S Reece

 

 

 

C Reid

 

 

 

J K Smith

 

 

 

R J G Smith

 

 

V D Smith

 

 

 

R J Stanley

 

 

 

P D Surman

 

 

 

M G Sztymiak

 

 

 

S Thomson

 

 

R J E Vines

 

 

 

M J Williams

 

 

 

P N Workman

 

 

20.5          With 35 votes in favour it was unanimously agreed that the Motion would be discussed at this evening’s Council meeting.

20.6          The Motion, as set out on the Agenda, was proposed and seconded. The proposer of the Motion felt that the world was currently living through the greatest health and economic crisis of a lifetime. As of 25 July, there had been 255 COVID-19 cases in Tewkesbury Borough and 580 deaths in the county and, nationally, over 45,000 people had lost their lives. Every citizen had been affected whether by lockdown, restricted travel, furlough, loss of jobs, self-isolation etc. Many had made resolutions on how to change their lives in the future and numerous great volunteer groups had been set up. She thanked volunteers and Officers for their hard work during this turbulent time and felt it was right to take the opportunity to make a change to improve the borough so that something positive could come from the pandemic and to commemorate the people who had lost their lives as well as celebrating the people who had done great things. The proposal was not for an expensive or elaborate scheme - ideas included planting wildflower seeds, providing certificates to businesses to show how they had been champions in their area or writing letters of thanks to those individuals involved - but it was felt appropriate to include something in the Council’s recovery plan to mark the pandemic. In seconding the Motion, a Member indicated that he had been struck by how everyone in the communities had come together in a way that was rarely seen in any other situation. The community spirit had been amazing and she felt it was right to have a tangible memorial of some description, possibly a memorial garden or space in each town/village in the borough for people to sit and reflect, this would fit into the recovery plan as well and it was hoped the Council could collectively pass the Motion as proposed.

20.7          In supporting the Motion, a Member noted that there were several different ideas, but the Motion asked the Council to explore what could be achieved. He strongly felt that something needed to be done in recognition of the efforts made by so many keyworkers. In offering an alternative view, another Member indicated that he could not support the Motion as it stood. He explained that the country was still amidst the emergency and it was therefore not appropriate to celebrate at this stage. He also expressed concern that there had already been different suggestions on how to fulfil the Motion and he felt it would be more helpful to have one idea. He suggested that a conversation about the way to commemorate the pandemic could be held when the recovery plan actions were considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Another Member agreed that excellent work had been undertaken across the borough and he commiserated with those that had lost loved ones; however, the recovery plan would look to make things better and learn lessons which was the reason it would be monitored by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

20.8          It was agreed that the crisis was ongoing, and a Member pointed out that no one was talking about celebrating but rather marking, respecting and building goodwill for those who had gone above and beyond. That could be done at any point so there was no need to wait until the crisis was over. In response to a query regarding point 1 of the Motion, the proposer explained that the Council would put out a press release to the effect that it intended to make one significant change post-emergency for the benefit of its local residents. The County Council had recently unanimously approved a similar Motion and it was hoped the Borough Council could do the same. The Motion had deliberately not been made prescriptive in terms of the memorial as this was felt to be something the Council should agree together. Supporters of the Motion expressed concern at some of the comments that had been made and felt that parts of the discussion and debate had been offensive in terms of the Motion being ‘a waste of time’ and other Members felt they could not see any issue with the Motion as it stood as it was asking to make a change post-emergency and to support the idea of some kind of memorial. A suggestion was made that Parish/Town Councils were in a much better position to send letters to community volunteers and it was noted that some Parishes had already started to work on this by sending letters and flowers or putting memorial benches in place; however, others were not in a position to organise those kind of things. A Member indicated that people had worked really hard throughout the crisis and they deserved recognition from their elected representatives – it was not suggested the Borough Council would replace the work being done by Parishes but that, as the lead authority, it could do something positive for its communities in this difficult time.

20.9          A recorded vote was requested and, upon receiving the appropriate level of support, voting was recorded as follows: 

For

Against

Abstain

Absent

G F Blackwell

R A Bird

M Dean

P E Smith

C L J Carter

G J Bocking

C Softley

C M Cody

K J Cromwell

 

S A T Stevens

L A Gerrard

R D East

 

D J Harwood

J H Evetts

 

 

M L Jordan

P A Godwin

 

 

E J MacTiernan

M A Gore

 

 

H S Munro

D W Gray

 

 

P W Ockelton

A Hollaway

 

 

R J G Smith

J R Mason

 

 

R J Stanley

H C McLain

 

 

M G Sztymiak

P D McLain

 

 

S Thomson

J W Murphy

 

 

P N Workman

A S Reece

 

 

 

C Reid

 

 

J K Smith

 

 

 

V D Smith

 

 

 

P D Surman

 

 

 

R J E Vines

 

 

 

M J Williams

 

20.10        With 14 votes in favour, 20 against and one abstention, the Motion was lost.

20.11        Accordingly, it was

                 RESOLVED           That the Motion not be approved.