There has been a lot of discussion and debate recently about what is deemed an "essential" worker or service, and Swale Borough Council have confirmed that the same has been happening with their operations in an official statement issued today.
They say that they have been following government guidance and where possible their staff have been working from home. However, they say that "certain jobs and services simply can't be done from home and in these cases we have been adhering to social distancing guidelines as much as we can. We have been working with our contractors and have received assurances that they are assessing the risks and providing staff with the right level of protection, so in many cases we feel it is right to continue with our key services".
Some examples of contractors continuing council work have been confirmed as:
Waste collections - their contractors are following government guidelines and the recently issued Waste Industry Safety and Health principles.
They are prioritising waste collection services to ensure every household continues to get a basic collection service.
Public toilets - While footfall is reduced they feel it is vital to continue to offer this service for those that need it, especially key workers that need to be out and about. The cleansing contractor Monitor is taking the precautions needed and "doing a great job with increased cleansing regimes" they say.
Grounds maintenance - Grass cutting or tree work may not seem essential to some, but the council feel it is important that they keep on top of this health and safety work, especially in areas where people will be doing their daily exercise or in their cemeteries, which remain in operation.
Along with their own staff, grounds maintenance teams are also keeping an eye on the closed playgrounds and fitness equipment troughout the borough.
Parking enforcement - Despite the changes to parking restrictions which has seen reduced enforcement, the council feel it is important that they maintain safety and clear traffic flow for emergency vehicles and waste collection vehicles especially in the main town centre areas. They say they have reduced staff patrolling and are focussing on double yellow lines, school keep clear zones and loading bays to allow for critical food deliveries.
The Swale Borough Council spokesperson told SFM News "we know everybody is working hard to get through this situation and we are especially proud of our staff and contractors that continue to deliver key functions for everybody in the borough".
For the latest information please visit: https://www.swale.gov.uk/coronavirus/.