North Lanarkshire Council chief ‘humbled’ by efforts of staff

The chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council has outlined the response taken by the local authority in connection to the coronavirus pandemic.

North Lanarkshire Council chief executive Des Murray

In a memo to staff, Des Murray said he was “humbled” by the efforts of staff from all services.

He said: “While we are all directly affected by this pandemic, be it our personal health, our loved ones or the economic impacts already being felt across our wider community, we have shown great strength and resilience.

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“Imagine a situation where we do not have enough people to support our waste services and the new public health crisis that would quickly unfold, our school meals, cleaning services, emergency housing repairs, children’s houses, payroll, social care, our cemeteries, our home care teams.

“The list is endless and they are all essential.”

Mr Murray talked about the importance of moving people between services hit by closure and those which need additional staff and resources.

The council has published a list of key workers including those involved in health, logistics, infrastructure and other industries which support North Lanarkshire.

On schools he said: “Our schools are at the frontline of the impacts unfolding across our staff and communities.  They are also essential to providing the supports our communities so desperately need.

“This includes helping key workers being able to sustain their roles in dealing with coronavirus.

“Schools have some of our best digital connectivity. There has been a huge amount of work in progressing work for children who will be at home so that they can continue to access learning. That work must continue.

“Schools will be the focal point for community support in the weeks ahead. They will continue to feed and look after some of our most vulnerable children.

“In the coming weeks we will be able to provide other critical services from these buildings to those most desperately in need.

“Public transport is already limited, and will be even more so. The ability to offer advice, for example benefits and money advice, and support at the heart of communities will be vital.”

All schools will be open to staff on Monday (March 23), although Mr Murray said he expected them to shut down completely during the week.

Mr Murray also said the response from local individuals and companies had been overwhelming.

He said: “Over the last 48 hours, I have been inundated with offers of support. Staff wishing to salary sacrifice, to give to those in desperate need, part-time workers offering to use their free days, unpaid, to come in and support essential service delivery to allow funds to be directed at our most at risk.

“Private businesses, having to close, but wanting to offer their staff and supplies to help feed our communities. It is a privilege to be the chief executive in an organisation and a place filled with such individuals.”

He also highlighted the task facing local managers in the weeks to come.

Mr Murray said: “We need our managers, head teachers and supervisors to lead at a local level like never before.

“They will know best how to maintain critical services within their areas of expertise and responsibility, making best use of our policies and rolling guidance while balancing local staffing circumstances.”

Staff who are due to retire will be asked to stay on if possible and if willing should contact their manager.

The council is also ensuring homeworking is used as much as possible.

Mr Murray said: “Across services, work is going on to ensure that, where it is possible, homeworking will happen. There are challenges around this which we are working through. Telecommunications networks across the country are under strain like never before and that means people will not always be able to log onto our systems as normal.”

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