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The LibDem Perspective

May 12, 2020 4:05 PM
By Cllr Kathryn Field

Let's face it, two months in to COVID 19 and we are all thoroughly fed up with this nightmare. We
yearn to get back to 'normal', even if 'normal' didn't seem all that great at the time. The Prime
Minister's confusing 'stay alert' instruction earlier this week offered some tentative glimpses of
hope, but raised more issues than it answered. We all want to see major areas such as construction
and manufacturing returning to work but without safe access to public transport, a return to school
or playgroup for our children, and clear instructions to employers about health and safety standards
this will simply put more workers at risk. Many of those under greatest financial pressure cannot
drive to work and not every household has the technology to support home learning or working.
Disparities in home schooling support will reinforce social inequalities for years to come. The
random nature of the instructions around social distancing, sports, and inward travel do not inspire
confidence. Their mantra 'we'll do the right thing, at the right time' rings hollow when it becomes
increasingly clear that large numbers of care workers and care home residents are paying with their
lives for the Government's failure to implement the lessons from its own disaster planning.

Amidst the gloom we have to hope that some of the more positive changes forced upon us will
continue when the nightmare eventually ends. Around the world pollution levels have been
dropping albeit temporarily and must offer welcome relief to those with non-COVID respiratory
conditions. It seems likely the enforced reliance on home working will create a permanent legacy, as
will the explosive growth in 'virtual' conferencing. My own daily routine of travelling to meetings in
Lewes, Bexhill, or parish council meetings has been almost completely replaced by talking to
disembodied faces appearing on my ipad, saving travel time and pollution.

Many people have discovered their local network of footpaths, learned the joys of vegetable gardening,

exercising the dog, or have rescued bikes from the back of their sheds.

Conversely the attractions of confinement in town-sized cruise liners or on long distance holiday

flights have seldom seemed less alluring. COVID 19 is horrific, but eventually the pandemic will pass.

Climate change, pushed out of the headlines for now, remains a critical and very long term issue.

So at Rother, we are working to ensure we retain what benefits we can from the pandemic.
Many staff are working from home and it is hoped that some of the enforced operational 'work-arounds'

staff are developing will enable this to continue for part of their working week. We are actively

encouraging cycling, especially in and around Bexhill, under the enthusiastic direction of Cllrs Richard

Thomas and Polly Gray, and welcome the Government's commitment to provide £2 billion of funding to

expand cycling; even though this is not 'new money' it suggests an encouraging commitment to more

environmentally friendly modes of travel. Our declaration of a Climate Emergency commits us to

becoming 'noxious gas neutral' by 2030 and to take the lead by making all our own premises and
working practices as 'green' as possible, as well as making it easy for residents to do the same.
We need help and supportfrom everyone if this is to succeed and if you've not already had your say
you have just this weekend to log on to the consultation page on Rother District Council's website.
Please do.

Cllr Kathryn Field


Bikes can help reduce pollution and save parking costs