Oldham looking to be one of the first authorities to roll out "Track and Trace"
Date published: 21 May 2020
Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding
Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding has said the borough is looking to be one of the first to implement the government's "Track and Trace" initiative.
Track and Trace is a system to be rolled out by government in June, using an app to identify people that the infected person has been in contact with.
Boris Johnson told parliament that 25,000 contact tracers - able to track 10,000 new cases a day - would be in place by 1 June.
The news comes after the number of people tested in the borough rose to 4000, which doesn't include the tests provided at Manchester Airport and the Etihad Stadium.
Cllr Fielding continued "We're ahead of most places on testing - which means we are finding more cases. This makes the data look bad in the short term, but being able to track and trace will benefit our residents on the long term.
The council leader was also cautious about the lockdown advice coming from central government: "We are now past the peak. We think Oldham is about 2 weeks behind London. That's why some of the London-centric directives that have come out around the release of lockdown need to be implemented cautiously in the town.
"We need to move slowly and put the safety of residents at the forefront. On schools, for example, we're supporting oour headteachers towards re-opening only when it's safe to do so.
"I've had lots of emails from concerned parents and staff who have concerns about the pace of the release of lockdown. We will be supporting schools and parents in any way we can to get children back to school, when they feel is it right for them to do so."
In a virtual press conference, Cllr Fielding was scathing about the government funding for local authorities.
"The government assured they would meet any costs associated with the Coronavirus pandemic. Now they appear to be backtracking on those promises. If we're not supported by government, there will be enormous implications for our ability to deliver services in the future.
"Our budgets have been cut by 60% since the beginning of austerity in 2010. We're not in any position to cut any further. And that's the case for many local authorities."
However, he was more upbeat about plans for Oldham's future. "We cannot tone down our ambition for the borough. An ambition to regenerate, to improve the life chances of our young people, and to ensure we equip people with the skills and education to get on"
"We have announced the town centre investment plan just before lockdown, and projects like Northern Roots which has been getting a lot of attention"
"There was a real sense of optimism in the business community. That has continued as local businesses and organisations have got involved with the Coronavirus relief effort. We want to continue that sense of optimism to rebuild Oldham's economy post-crisis."
COVID RELIEF EFFORT IN NUMBERS:
- 3500 people helped with emergency supplies
- Over half a million items of PPE distributed
- Over £36m given out in business grants
- More than 3000 calls to the emergency helpline
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