A statement of thanks from Councillor Heather Scott
“As cabinet prepares to meet and things start to get back to somewhat normal, I wanted to take the time to pass on my heartfelt thanks to the people of Darlington for the resilience and strength they have shown through these difficult few months.
“The pandemic and its effects will go down in history as a global event, but behind the headlines we all know there are individual stories of kindness, bravery and hope.
“Firstly, I’d like to pay tribute to those who have sadly lost their lives to this dreadful illness – some 84 Darlington families have lost a loved one in the most difficult circumstances and my thoughts are with all of them.
“To our NHS staff and our care workers on the frontline we say – thank you. You have faced the worst in recent weeks and helped some of the most vulnerable people in our society at often great personal sacrifice.
“Thanks to all of our keyworkers, who kept us going during the tightest days of lockdown. The refuse collectors who never missed a day of collections, the delivery drivers and postal workers keeping us connected, the social workers supporting the vulnerable. The teachers who continued to teach, those unsung heroes who kept food on our tables, the lights on and that all important internet working!
“As leader of Darlington Borough Council, the way our staff responded and adapted to the many changes and risks placed on them makes me extremely proud. The Community Hub, staffed by team members from across the council, stepped up in days to create a service that made sure food and medical supplies were delivered to Shielding and vulnerable people as they need it.
“To date, the Hub has taken more than 7,000 calls from local people and worked with local businesses, charities, NHS services to ensure no-one was left behind.
“As lockdown eases, the majority of council services are now back up and running and we are determined to support the long term recovery of our local economy and the businesses that make Darlington what it is.
“We would encourage people to support our local businesses as much as possible in the coming weeks and months, all the while remembering that Covid-19 has not gone away – it’s just as important as it always was to follow social distancing guidance. The very last thing we want is to be forced back into lockdown as we’re seeing in other parts of the country.
“The impacts of the pandemic will undoubtedly loom large for a long time to come, both socially and financially.
“As a council we have seen a great impact on our finances – a mixture of increased spending on social care for both adults and children during lockdown, the loss of income from services such as car parking and our leisure and culture facilities and the council tax and business rate reductions.
“I can reassure people that we are in a good position to weather the storm at the moment but in the long term there will be discussions to be had, depending on the strength of the recovery and what level of support we might receive from central Government.
“I have seen the very best of Darlington and its residents during the pandemic and I urge you all to remain strong and say safe as we move forward together in this period of recovery. The future is unclear but by working together, we can make the best of it.”