Feedback from Council survey helping Covid response and recovery

Published Monday 4 January 2021

Valuable feedback from residents and businesses is helping shape the ongoing district-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic and the steps to recovery.

More than 230 people shared their views, in October 2020, when Harborough District Council asked residents and local businesses about their experiences during the first coronavirus lockdown from March 2020 to June 2020 and the period following this.

The aim was to develop a good understanding of how people have been accessing Council information and services during this time, what they thought of the Council's response to the crisis, and how communication and support could be improved across the district.

People told the Council that their biggest concern during lockdown was family health and welfare.

Shoppers said that they did generally feel safe returning to the high streets, but nearly 75 per cent of people said their biggest concern was that people would not maintain 2m social distance.

Earlier this year, the Council put measures in place to create a safer environment for shoppers for the reopening of town centres including suspended parking charges, street stenciling to help people queue safely, hand sanitizer stations, High street helpers to offer guidance and support to shoppers, and some temporary road changes in Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Kibworth and Broughton Astley.

Hand sanitiser station

At the start of lockdown, the Council created dedicated coronavirus web pages to provide up-to-date support and guidance and information about any changes to Council services as a result of the pandemic. A letter was also sent to every household in the district with support information.

A community hub was set up which has dealt with 1,700 requests for support from residents across the district, with many more requests handled directly by community groups.

More than £21m in Government grants were also distributed to local businesses in need by a special Council team.

The coronavirus response survey found that more than half (55 per cent) of respondents said they were happy the Council did enough to protect and support them during lockdown, with 30 per cent of people saying they felt the Council could have done more. The other 15 per cent of respondents mostly said they had not required support from the Council, had been helped by local volunteers, or were not aware of what support was available.

Cllr Phil King, Leader of Harborough District Council, said: "I'd like to give thanks to the hundreds of residents and business for their valuable feedback which is helping shape our continuing work to recover from the impact of this devastating pandemic. Whilst I am hugely proud of the Council and the way colleagues worked in partnership with volunteer and community groups across the district to help those residents and businesses in urgent need of support; we wanted to seek the views of our communities to identify opportunities to bolster our efforts."

Going forward, 60 per cent of respondents want to hear more information via the Council's Facebook page, with 45 per cent wanting to have information via our online residents' newsletter and 43 per cent wanting news via the Council's website. Other ways residents wanted updates were via direct email, local publications, and Instagram.

The survey asked if people knew that the Council continued to run key services during the lockdown period. Bin collections, customer services, and environmental health were well-known to be running, but other services such as safeguarding protection, Lifeline, Active Harborough, and licensing processing and support were not.

Following the survey feedback, the Council has already started putting in place a number of suggestions made by residents and businesses.

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