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 19 August 2020, and actions arising pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Additional documents:


The minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting held on 19 August 2020.


The Board noted the updates in the action log.


Sharon Stoltz, the Director of Public Health for the City of York, gave an update on the response from the letter sent to Jane Russell at the Department of Health and Social Care. Further explorative work was needed to identify potential sites for a walk-in testing centre. The earliest this would be in operation was October, as it usually took around 4 weeks to establish.



Current Situation in York pdf icon PDF 408 KB


Fiona Phillips, the Assistant Director of Public Health, gave an update on the current situation in York. It was a similar picture to what had previously been reported, but was still lower than national and regional rates of transmission. On average there were currently around 14 new cases a week which was an increase from what was seen in July and August. The increase of cases had not transferred over to deaths or hospital admissions.


Phil Cain, the North Yorkshire Police representative, gave a brief update on the restrictions that would starting on Monday 14 September 2020. The maximum amount of people allowed to socialise together had gone from 30 people to a maximum of 6. The ‘Four Es’ approach (engage, explain, encourage, enforce) would be taken by the police. Enforcement would only be used if  required; this entailed a £100 fine that doubled after each offence. It was also now a legal requirement to gather contact details from customers in restaurants and bars. Since positive cases had increased nationally, Phil informed the Board that the plans to re-open stadiums had had to be reviewed.


James Farrar, the Local Enterprise Partnership representative reported that anxieties were high in the business community, especially with the potential of a second lockdown. Businesses wanted certainty in order to plan procedures to overcome restrictions. Footfall in the city centre was decreasing. Coupled with furlough costs increasing, this could lead to a rise in redundancies.


The Board discussed what was to be done when the public saw groups of more than six. Phil Cain thought that it should be reported to the police since it was a Public Health issue during a pandemic. Julia Mulligan, the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, queried whether there was a time lag between the younger cohort being infected and infecting the rest of the community, as they currently had the highest rates of positive cases. The Director of Public Health stated that both France and Spain had seen an initial spike in the younger cohort which then led to a spike in the wider community. It was thought this would be seen in the UK later on this year. Dr Andrew Lee agreed, stating that a recent study found that 20-25% of people with Covid-19 symptoms didn’t comply with guidance. Some work needed to be developed to change the culture and thinking around this.


The Board noted the report.



Communications and Engagement pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Claire Foale gave a presentation on the various ways the council was helping to keep the community Covid-19 safe through communications and engagement. Another city wide consultation was being organised through the newsletter that is delivered to every household. Temperature Checks had also continued to be maintained in the community to determine how guidance was being received. The Facebook live Q&A session had reached over 10,000 people, with good engagement through comments and questions. Claire thanked the Public Health and Education teams as well as everyone else involved, including the residents who took part.


The Face Covering Task and Finish group, which involved both further education and higher education partners, had responded to the new guidance that came into play on the 28th August 2020.


The Lets Be York campaign had been extended to work with universities and colleges to help welcome students back into the education setting. Claire added that the communications sent out needed to be mindful of students coming from areas of concern where the rules may be different from those in York. The annual Flu Campaign was also being developed to ensure the city was prepared for an increase in both flu and Covid-19.


Dr Sally Tyrer, a GP from the North Yorkshire Local Medical Committee, expected to see a rise in mental health issues due to the anticipated rise in financial problems. Julia Mulligan added that this could potentially cause a rise in domestic abuse and family tension. Sian Balsom, the Manager at Healthwatch York, expressed concerns around the divisive narrative of some of the social media comments and felt this should addressed through positive communications.


Action 012: The Board suggested that a Task and Finish Group should be established to tackle some of the issues raised above, including an increase in mental health problems attributed to Covid-19.




Update from Sub Group: Universities and Higher Education Establishments (verbal update)


Both the higher education and further education institutions had expressed concerns around testing capability. They had agreed to use their available resources to bridge the gap until a walk-in centre had been established in the city. All institutions had progressed an enormous amount of work to mitigate the risk of transmission for when students return to campus. York University had led a scenario exercise which had provided assurance to partners as to what had been put in place before the students return.


Amanda Hatton, the Corporate Director of Children, Education and Communities at City of York Council, stated that it was great to see partnership working that mirrored what had been happening across the whole education system.


The Board noted the update and agreed that this should be a standing item on the agenda.  



Theme 2 in the Outbreak Control Plan: High Risk Places, Locations and Communities pdf icon PDF 342 KB


Sharon Stoltz presented the COVID-19: Theme Two high risk places, locations and communities report. The purpose of the report was to update the Board about Theme Two of the Outbreak Management Plan: COVID 19, Management of outbreaks in identified high risk communities or settings. A standard operating procedure had been developed with partners to address particular themes. Businesses of higher risk had been emphasised, with site visits being organised to ensure risk assessments were being followed. The report had a focus on immigrants and refugees, and also highlighted the work that had been started to engage with the Traveller community.


Julia Mulligan queried how the homeless community were being protected against Covid-19. Sharon assured the Board that the council was working to make sure all homeless people were housed. The Public Health Team were working closely with the community, hostels and housing teams to achieve this. Places for the homeless community to self-isolate if needed were also being identified.


The Board noted the report. 



Testing Policy pdf icon PDF 18 KB

Additional documents:


Sharon Stoltz asked the Board to sign off the testing policy that she presented at the meeting. She added the caveat that, since the papers had only been circulated the day before the meeting, email feedback would be welcomed.


The Board was happy to approve the Testing Policy, with the proviso that it could come back if any significant changes were needed.



COVID 19 Contain Framework: National and Local Powers to Contain Outbreaks pdf icon PDF 127 KB


Fiona Phillips presented a report which outlined the powers that both the national and local government had at their disposal. If these powers needed to be exercised in order to restrict access or close a premises, it would have to be justified through evidence. Fiona asked the Board for approval to amend the Outbreak Control Plan with the changes that were outlined in the report.


Action 013: Update the Outbreak Control Plan.


The Board noted the report and accepted the amendments. 



Agenda Items for the next meeting


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

·        Current Situation in York

·        Communications and engagement

·        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:

·        21st October 2020 – 17.30


The Chair advised the Board that they should continue to meet on a monthly basis. The Board accepted this suggestion.


Action 014: Tracy Wallis agreed to schedule future meetings for November and December, at which point the frequency can be reviewed.



Any Other Business


The Board had no other business to discuss.



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