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West Berkshire's community response to coronavirus praised

Picture credits: Local Democracy Reporter Service

The community response to the Covid-19 crisis has been “tremendously heartening”, the leader of Newbury Town Council said.

Since social distancing rules were introduced, the town council has stopped many of the public services it provides, while keeping open essential services.

Martin Colston, the council leader, said: “We are in unchartered waters right now with the Covid-19 crisis.

“Along with other local councils around the country, we are doing our utmost to maintain as many of our essential services as we can, while at the same time protecting the safety of our residents, officers and members.”

He was updating what work the town council has done in response to the pandemic, at an extraordinary public meeting on March 30.

Cllr Colston thanked the work gone into the new community support hub, which is coordinating the volunteer response to the Covid-19 crisis.

He said: “I have been tremendously heartened with the way our local community has responded to ensure support for the elderly and vulnerable with groups springing up on a district, town, ward and street level.

“We advise any member of the public who wishes to volunteer, to contact the hub or the volunteer centre.”

The council has closed tennis courts, bowls clubs, fenced-in playgrounds and the Newtown Road cemetery. It has also cancelled civic engagements and suspended the Saturday morning surgeries on the steps of the town hall.

The annual town meeting and a community workshop on climate change will both be postponed, as well as the VE day celebrations which could be held on Victory over Japan day, August 15.

While lots has been shut, the council has kept open Shaw cemetery, public open spaces, the market, the public toilets at the wharf, and the allotments.

Cllr Colston said: "None of us know how long this situation will continue, but I feel sure that when we come out at the other end, the strong community spirit that we are witnessing now will stand us in good stead as we move to get things back to normal."

By Local Democracy Reporter Service reporter, Alex Seabrook

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