By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones
During a Leicester City Council meeting dominated by Covid-19 yesterday (MAR19), Leicester City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, outlined emergency proposals and funding to address the outbreak.
In his opening address to the half-full council meeting, the City Mayor stated that council tax arrears would not be pursued, evictions from council properties would be stopped and in a “significant step”, the uncapped hardship fund would be utilised for those put into financial difficulty due to the crisis.
The fund is currently set at £27 million, but it could be increased “if necessary”.
“The council will be severely tested, there are going to be some very difficult times ahead,” said Sir Peter, regarding the ongoing commitment of Leicester City Council to support vital services and the public.
In a rare circumstance, the council accepted formal apologies from members who were self-isolating as a result of the virus.
18 councillors sent apologies for being unable to attend.
Sir Peter reassured the people of Leicester that forward planning meant that the council could immediately take steps to begin implementing procedures to reduce the potential damage to the city because of the disease.
“We might need to stop seeing each other, but we don’t need to stop talking to each other,” said Sir Peter.
“In fact, now it is more important than ever that we talk to one another during this difficult time.”
At a daily briefing on Thursday morning (MAR19) the City Mayor was informed that there were five confirmed cases in Leicester.
He conceded that the real figures were likely to be much higher, reiterating the need to continue to follow guidelines from the government on social distancing.
Sir Peter also paid tribute to local media, including BBC Leicester and the Leicester Mercury, for their ongoing commitment to providing “balanced news against a backdrop of misinformation”.