This update introduces a recent interview with LGIU Australia content commissioner Merle Zierke and Councillor Chapman-Allen, Leader of the Breckland District Council in England, to understand just how COVID-19 has impacted local government in England, and how local governments have responded thereby.
Across England, local governments have proactively supported their local communities: organising food and medicine deliveries, sourcing personal protective equipment, co-ordinating mutual aid groups, shifting to virtual workflows, and setting up befriending groups (to name a few). In the words of Jonathan Carr-West, LGIU Global CEO, “across the country, it’s been an astonishing effort and one that many in the sector are rightly proud of”.
To better understand just how COVID-19 has impacted local government operations in England and how they have responded to these new challenges, I recently interviewed Sam Chapman-Allen of Breckland District Council in England.
Leader of the Breckland District Council since May 2019, Councillor Chapman-Allen also sits on the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) Board and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Board, and is a Local Government Peer – a role which involves providing support to other local governments throughout the country.
Councillor Chapman-Allen shared experiences and insights that many Australian councils can relate to, starting with the fact that, although “residents don’t come into contact with their local councils until they need something or need some support”, COVID-19 has seen local governments proactively intervene to support constituent residents and businesses in unprecedented ways.
Much like in Australia, English local authorities had hoped for a quick economic bounce back; however, as we mark six months since the Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared a coronavirus pandemic, it looks like both countries are facing a longer, slower recovery stretching out to the latter part of 2021. For local economies in both England and Australia, that is a long time for businesses to weather the storm.
Although the road ahead will be a difficult one, bringing local governments together – both within Australia and across the LGiU platform – presents an opportunity to share ideas and find ways to build back better.
In the words of Councillor Chapman-Allen:
“Such a Herculean effort across the country and the rest of the world, if it has taught us anything, it is that our communities still do care about each other, and our communities are therefore at the heart of everything that we do”
Watch the interview to learn more about: how local authorities have been impacted, how they are responding, what recovery looks like, and what lessons or insights these cases might offer to the Australian context.
LGiU Australia in conversation with Councillor Samuel Chapman-Allen from SGS Economics and Planning on Vimeo.
The briefings below provide more information on how the local government’s are responding to COVID-19:
- How are local government budgets responding to COVID-19?
- Were public services fit enough for coronavirus?
- Public libraries and leisure services: survival and mapping out their role in recovery
- The role of active travel in our recovery from COVID-19
- Future towns – what will our town centres and high streets look like after COVID-19?
- Post-COVID cities: how might the pandemic change urban areas?
- Urban density and pandemics: lessons from global COVID-19 experiences
- The short and long term economic consequences of COVID-19.
For more information visit the Global-Local Bulletin Archive: International COVID-19 and Recovery news for local government.