Local democracy during coronavirus

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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


No interests were declared.


Minutes of the Meeting held on 13 July 2020, and actions arising pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Additional documents:


The minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting held on 17 July 2020.


The Board noted the updates in the action log.


Current Situation in York pdf icon PDF 420 KB


Fiona Philips, the Assistant Director of Public Health (ADPH) at the City of York Council, presented a snapshot of the current situation in York. There had been 938 lab confirmed cases in York. The cumulative rate of cases in York was lower than regional and national averages.


As more data was received, the impact felt by some demographics in the city would be better understood. This information had only recently been received, meaning further data was needed to identify any trends or patterns. This could prove difficult however as an estimated 25% of case records did not determine the ethnicity of the individual. The ADPH was escalating this.


Ian Floyd, the Interim Head of Paid Service for the City of York Council, noted that even with strong footfall in the city, there hadn’t been a noticeable increase in positive cases.


Alison Semmence, the Chief Executive of York CVS, asked if there was any specific plan to reach the BAME communities, who had been shown to be impacted disproportionately by Covid-19.  Fiona Phillips assured Alison that there had been a standard operating procedure developed for vulnerable people in complex settings. Work around making information accessible to all groups had been progressed. Support for those people who are self-isolating had also been established. 


The Board discussed the idea of having a localised track and trace system as it was thought that this would yield more data much faster for the local authority to develop plans accordingly.  This was currently being piloted by both the Calderdale and Bradford Councils.


The Board noted the report on the current situation in York.


Communications and Engagement pdf icon PDF 939 KB


Claire Foale, Head of Communications, Customer Services and Digital at the City of York Council, presented on the Outbreak Control Communication Plan. She outlined the various means of communicating the government’s guidelines.


A ‘temperature check’ to see how York residents were feeling with the guidance they are receiving was collated on a quarterly basis. Most people knew what to do when they had symptoms and where to go.  54% people were less confident on who they were allowed to socialise with.  It was also found that residents were less confident on the rules around returning to work as well as which journeys they could make safely.


The Regional Head of Communications group would be reviewing the communications plan in September. 


A Facebook Live Q&A event took place on Tuesday 18th August 2020.  It received a lot of questions based around confusion over the use of face coverings.  There was particular confusion over the use of face coverings in the education setting.  Another meeting to discuss face covering guidance was set to happen on 20th August 2020.  This would make sure we had strong recommendations of what to do and when to do it.


The issue of people with hidden disabilities receiving abuse for not wearing masks was raised to the Board. Claire agreed to bring this to the Face Covering Task and Finish Group.


Action 009: The Face Covering Task and Finish to clarify guidance around face coverings in schools and for those not able wear a face covering.


The Board noted the communications update.


Update from Sub-Group: Universities and Higher Education Establishments pdf icon PDF 403 KB


Charlie Jeffery, the Vice Chancellor and President at the University of York, resolved to establish a sub-group made up of representatives from both Universities and Higher Education institutions.  The group had met three times on a weekly basis with colleagues from the NHS and City of York Council Public Health team.


The report had a particular focus on testing, detailing concerns around capacity in the scenarios set out in the paper.  Getting the results fast in the student context was important due to the complex social relationships they had.  Concerns were also expressed around the often inconclusive self-administered tests and also around students’ access to testing hubs.  The institutions thought that they could easily absorb all 500 tests that the council had available each day.  Fiona Phillips agreed, stating that we should be exploring all testing options to make sure we had capacity to deal with increased testing.  She supported the idea of having a testing facility on campus as well as collaborative working with the hospital to ensure this is achieved successfully.   Lee, the Executive Director Primary Care and Population Health NHS CCG, also agreed; however, he thought that the current NHS testing process shouldn’t be undermined.


The recommendation was for the Board to ask the Council to write to the Department of Health to increase the amount of swabs available.  The draft was to be sent to Charlie Jeffery, Fiona Phillips and Andrew Lee prior to the Chair of Outbreak Management Advisory Board.


Action 010: The Chair to write to the Department of Health suggesting an increase in the amount of swabs available.



Update from Covid-19 Health Protection Board (verbal update)


Fiona Phillips gave an update on the Covid-19 Health Protection Board.  This group was still in the process of being set up.  The Covid-19 Health Protection Board sat below this Board as outlined in the Outbreak Management Plan.


As the operational response was run by the Covid-19 Outbreak Preventive and Response (COPR) Group, the strategic overview would be given in the Covid-19 Heath Protection Board.  Since students would be returning to school soon, the first meeting was scheduled for the end of September.


The Board noted the update on the Covid-19 Health Protection Board.          


Theme 1 in the Outbreak Control Plan: Safe Opening of Schools and Early Years Settings pdf icon PDF 423 KB


Amanda Hatton, the Corporate Director of Children, Education and Communities at the City of York Council gave an update on the themes and work which schools were involved in.  Even though schools hadn’t closed in York throughout the pandemic, there had been no outbreaks in any education setting.  By taking an individual school approach, each institution had been working on detailed risk assessments.


Work was being progressed to get students back into learning and not just back into schools safely.  All schools were working to reopen in the first week of September.  Communications were being developed to help students and their parents feel safe to come into school.


Councillor Myers queried the bubble system with the mild symptoms/asymptomatic nature of Covid-19 in young people. Amanda Hatton assured the Board that the standard operating procedure had been developed alongside national guidance which dealt with issues raised around vulnerable people and testing within the school context.  The powers of policing this did not sit with the local authority but with the Head Teachers and Governing Bodies.


The Board noted the assurance report on the safe opening of schools and early years settings.  It was agreed that there would be another update to the Board after schools had returned.


Theme 1 in the Outbreak Control Plan: Care Homes pdf icon PDF 193 KB


Sharon Houlden, the Corporate Director of Health, Housing & Adult Social Care at the City of York Council, updated the Board on theconsiderable work that had been going on in care homes since the start of the pandemic.  Currently, there had been no positive cases in care homes since 17th July.  This was through daily liaison and collaborative working with Adult Social Care, the CCG and Public Health to achieve the objectives outlined in the Care Home Support Plan.


There had been additional care home support commissioned.  A newly developed recruitment line had been put in place in order to remain safe.  Enhanced community-led support was enabling people to remain independent in their own homes wherever it was not necessary to be admitted to a care home.


The Board noted the paper and welcomed any future reports.


The Covid-19 Contain Framework: A Guide for Local Decision Makers


Fiona Phillips outlined which decisions could be made by the local authority.  The council had powers to close premises, restrict certain events or restrict access to an outdoor place or type of place.  In order to do this, the necessity needed to be demonstrated.  Both the Police and the Director of Public Health had to be consulted, with communications sent to the Secretary of State explaining why this recourse had been taken.


Action 011: The ADPH to provide a written analysis report on the Covid-19 Contain Framework.


Agenda Items for the next meeting


The Chair confirmed that there were three standing items for all future agendas:

o   Current Situation in York

o   Communications and engagement

o   Updates from Sub-Group/ Task and Finish Groups


The Chair asked Board members to send any other potential agenda items to Tracy Wallis.


Dates of future meetings


The agreed dates of future meetings were as follows:

·        9th September 2020 – 17.30

·        21st October 2020 – 17.30



Any Other Business


The Board had no other business to discuss.


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