A STRATEGY to help “people, communities and businesses” in Buckinghamshire emerge from lockdown was given majority approval during a cabinet meeting.

The Recovery Framework Report, Buckinghamshire Council’s most recent phase in response to the coronavirus pandemic, was carried by councillors on Tuesday morning.

It was set up in response to the UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy and coordinates members of the public, business leaders and keyworkers in public, private and voluntary sectors.

Its aim is to provide a structured, “place-based” approach to life in Buckinghamshire returning to “normal” since lockdown was enforced on March 23.

Its scope during the crisis has been broad and complex, attempting to preserve economic and social infrastructures on a local level, while also addressing residents’ social, economic, and physical and emotional well-being.

It has also fundamentally been about controlling and mitigating the virus itself.

Read more: Pandemic is ‘new normal’ as Buckinghamshire Council moves forward with local plan

One such measure taken by the council was to establish 16 Community Boards to unite councillors and the community in solving local issues and to allocate £3.9 million to support projects under the new scheme.

Cabinet met yesterday morning (Tuesday) to review the Recovery Framework Report in light of easing restrictions and to endorse the alignment of a new unitary council (formed on April 1) with recovery from Covid.

Buckinghamshire Council adopted a ‘3 Rs’ policy in its recovery plan:

  • Reset – to “reimagine and reform” old ways and carry them into the future
  • Resilience – an ability to “respond to increases and decreases in infection rates”
  • Restoration – restarting society at an “appropriate time” in an “appropriate way”

It has also identified four strategic priority areas:

  • Health and Wellbeing Impact – for those affected by coronavirus
  • Direct Hardship Impact – for those whose livelihoods and careers have been disrupted
  • Structural Economic Impact – to reignite economic activity across Buckinghamshire
  • Building resilience and seizing the positives – capitalising on societal changes

“As we now move from Response to Recovery as a place, it is important to establish clear coordination and governance arrangements for recovery planning across Buckinghamshire,” the Recovery Framework Report states.

“In order for partners to focus our resources, we have agreed to put in place formal place-based governance arrangements which will be sustainable in the longer term.”

It also says: “Recovery in this case will need to enable people to develop a new ‘normal’ state until the risk of further Covid-19 outbreaks is mitigated. However unlike with a traditional disaster, the coronavirus situation will not have an easily defined move from the emergency response phase into recovery phase.”

Buckinghamshire’s recovery activity, as set out in the framework report, is led by four thematic partnerships. They are:

  • Health and Wellbeing Board – leading on population health
  • Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board – leading on economic recovery (turning the Local Industrial Strategy into a Local Industrial and Recovery Strategy)
  • Buckinghamshire Growth Board – leading on public realm, environment and infrastructure
  • Voluntary and Community sector Board – leading on community resilience

Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Acute Trust are also key in the council’s Covid recovery.

Council leader Martin Tett said the work carried out by the voluntary and community sector during lockdown had been “so important” in “helping to sustain residents and businesses across Buckinghamshire”.

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Each of the four thematic partnerships is currently reviewing data accrued during lockdown to refine their individual “recovery plans” for agreement in September – and the Health and Wellbeing Board is still running a live survey online, in conjunction with Community Boards.

“We are a relatively new (unitary) council,” said chief executive of Buckinghamshire Council, Rachael Shimmin. “And this approach to recovery allows us to make sure we align the work we’re doing in building the new council, so we don’t do the recovery from Covid quite aside from the work we do around restructuring and rethinking our offer to the public.

“We’ve been careful to combine those things so that we can, wherever possible, use this dreadful experience… to really learn how we might interact differently with the public and further improve our services in the context of unitarisation.”

Important notice: Free parking in the county’s council sites to support high street shopping will end July 31.