IN JANUARY, we launched our first edition of Wareham Tower Chimes. Never for a moment would I have believed that the second publication would be under such circumstances.
The first quarter of the year is always a busy time for Clerks and their Councils as we set the precept, monitor the budgets and prepare for the financial year-end and a new municipal year. I had a raft of policies to review and all manner of projects to outline for consideration by Council and all of that has been put aside whilst we concentrate on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, pandemics are not covered in our professional qualification. This has been a steep learning curve for every Town and Parish Clerk and local authority officer.
At Wareham Town Council we have a very small, but extremely dedicated, staff team; there are 4 office based, including me, and 3 operational staff. 3 of our staff are part-time. All office staff are currently working from home and I’m very grateful that we were able to update our antiquated IT equipment just 2 working days before the lockdown which has enabled us to continue to work as an effective team. We have daily video conference meetings and I’ve just introduced our Councillors to this technology in order that, should the legislative changes permit, we can hold virtual Council meetings in order to meet our statutory obligations regarding audit and Annual Council Meeting.
Our main concern at present is working with Dorset Council in order to coordinate a COVID-19 response as well as working with other Town and Parish Councils to ensure a consensus in our approach to our own responsibilities. To this extent the Town and Parish Clerks of Dorset enjoy regular conference calls with Dorset Council’s Chief Executive, and I would like to update you on the Dorset Council’s Coordinated COVID-19 Response and issues faced.
Your Town Council continues to work to coordinate and support Dorset Council in its initiatives. I will try to keep you informed of local developments as I believe that communication with our residents is key. To this effect you can expect to see a Wareham Tower Chimes newsletter in supermarkets more regularly during this crisis.