WARWICKSHIRE County Council (WCC) and partners’ collaborative approach to ensure Covid-19 regulations were followed by local businesses during the pandemic has been rewarded with a major national honour.
The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has awarded the county and partners Best Collaborative Working Initiative (with other public sector or third sector) 2021 award, in recognition of its successful collaboration with local businesses which successfully responded to the biggest regulatory challenge in decades – ensuring Covid-19 Rrgulations were consistently applied across the county, and that businesses were supported to comply.
The multi-agency approach involved the county’s environmental health, rtading standards and community safety teams; the district and borough councils; Public Health; Warwickshire Police; Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and Coventry City Council.
The collaboration saw 4,300 interactions by the partners with businesses over compliance with Covid regulations since March 2020, with enforcement action only needed on six occasions.
With an emphasis on informal advice and support, rather than enforcement, the partners produced best practice guides and information for staff, operators and senior managers as the regulatory framework and guidance changed throughout the pandemic.
They delivered more than 30 webinars from June 2020 on for every business sector, as well as a diverse range of community and other events, including Remembrance events, religious events and high-profile sporting events.
One of the biggest challenges was the different interpretations of the regulations being taken by businesses in order to stay open. However, the united approach to the application of the Covid regulations ensured a consistent response from all partners.
Regular surveys with partner agencies have revealed how valuable this collaborative approach has been for all parties in their aim of supporting businesses and keeping residents safe.
WCC leader Coun Izzi Seccombe said: “I’m delighted and proud that the county council and our partners have been recognised by receiving this APSE Award.
“As a result of our joined-up working, residents and business have not only seen consistency in terms of advice and support, but also transparency in the way we have applied the Covid-19 regulations.
“While seeking compliance, we have at the same time, placed an emphasis on support and information to businesses, only using enforcement powers on the rare occasions when all other avenues have failed.
“The collaboration and consistency that lies at the heart of this approach provides a long-lasting legacy of co-operation between partners that will last well beyond the pandemic.”
Deputy chief constable of Warwickshire Police, Alex Franklin Smith, added: “I am delighted the force’s contribution has been recognised at a national level and am incredibly proud of how we have adapted our ways of working during a particularly challenging 18 months.
“We have always maintained an emphasis on giving informal advice and support, and engagement rather than enforcement, and along with our partners, have done everything we can to keep the people of Warwickshire protected at all times.
“Collaborating with partner agencies was absolutely key to providing a consistent response to the pandemic across the county.”
The APSE awards recognise the very best in local government frontline services across the UK. To find out the winners of each category in the APSE Service Awards 2021, visit www.apse.org.uk/apse/index.cfm/events/apse-annual-service-awards-2021