Coronavirus update from Nicolas Heslop, Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council

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Last Updated: 09 Apr 2020 4:35pm

As we head into an Easter weekend like no other any of us has ever experienced, I wanted to express my thanks to everyone in our borough who is contributing to the huge national effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.

While normal life has ground to a halt for most of us, frontline workers are continuing to operate, often in the most difficult of circumstances. Health service professionals, in particular, are at the forefront of this crisis and deserve enormous credit for their professionalism and courage in the face of a grave threat. Many other key workers are also helping us continue to function through the lockdown, including shop staff, food producers, delivery drivers and of course council staff. They too deserve our appreciation for the huge efforts being made to enable the rest of us stay home and stay safe.

For many other businesses, the lockdown is imposing massive financial pressures. Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council has this week made the first grant payments to 200 firms across the borough totalling more than £3 million to help keep them afloat. We are processing applications as fast as we can and will be using the rest of the £18 million provided by government to mitigate the impact of the measures that have had to be put in place.

I’m also incredibly proud of the continuing efforts of local groups, parish councils and the council’s Community Hub team who together have been supporting the most vulnerable with food and other essentials. In the last two weeks we’ve taken more than 350 calls for information or assistance and delivered more than 100 boxes of supplies. Anyone who needs help or who would like to volunteer can do so via our website or by calling 01732 876152.

Finally, I’m conscious that for many people, being confined to home especially as the weather improves will become a strain. Unfortunately, we are still in the relatively early stages of the battle to defeat coronavirus and no one should expect all the restrictions to be lifted any time soon. As is becoming clear, the virus does not discriminate. Everyone, regardless of age and physical health, is potentially vulnerable. I make no apology therefore for repeating the reminder from my last update that we all observe the social distancing rules and keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe. So over this bank holiday and in the difficult weeks ahead, please remember that the sacrifices we make now are saving lives and bringing forward the day when we can once again enjoy everyday life in our great borough.