Being a year on from the first lockdown gives pause for reflection and I want to start by offering my condolences to those who have lost loved ones to Covid.
As council leader at the time, I vividly recall the various stages of the pandemic.
As a council we shifted into emergency mode. My most shocking recollection was a meeting where we had to talk about setting up a field hospital at the Brighton Centre, securing additional mortuary space and more body bags.
With a lockdown imminent, panic-buying began, with pictures of empty shelves seen all over social media.
I urged the council to write to supermarket managers asking them to take action to stop people stockpiling.
Local shops and communities became the heroes of the hour as they began co-ordinating a grassroots response. They secured food for the vulnerable and organised volunteers to deliver it.
Meanwhile, the weather was getting warmer and I spent several days doing back-to-back interviews as the “Killjoy Councillor” telling everyone not to come to Brighton and Hove.
I spoke to the police about turning people back from Brighton station. But still they came. Social distancing was pretty much being ignored as our beaches filled up.
It became obvious many simply did not understand how serious this was. I called for powers to introduce a local lockdown but the government refused.
Many councillors visited businesses to ensure they were receiving government support but some were falling through the gaps.
The grant scheme was vastly oversubscribed and local enterprises were hit when government refused our pleas to transfer money from another funding pot to help them survive.
The pandemic highlighted the inequalities in our city, devastating lives and livelihoods. It also showed the best of our city, with a huge voluntary effort by our communities to support one another.
The people we must thank the most are the NHS, who have been there for us 24/7. NHS staff have risked their lives to be by our side when we need them.
Please support them in the future and back their claim for a decent pay rise so they are properly rewarded for their hard work.
We don’t want to find ourselves here again so please book your vaccine when it’s your turn. Don’t let Covid take back control.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.