‘Emergency powers’ handed to council Chief Executive

Emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus crisis have been handed to Coventry City Council’s Chief Executive.

The new powers will enable Martin Reeves to make quick decisions at the authority on issues and funding during the crisis.

Council leader George Duggins as well as the senior cabinet members will also be consulted on making the decisions.

The move could be in place for “weeks, potentially months” while the country battles the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Executive of Coventry City Council Martin Reeves attends Holocaust Day in the Lower Precinct, Coventry.
Chief Executive of Coventry City Council Martin Reeves attends Holocaust Day in the Lower Precinct, Coventry.

Mr Reeves said: “We have emergency powers which means on a daily basis, as Chief Executive, I am able to accept advice from senior colleagues, the leader of the council and senior cabinet leaders to effect change.

“That will work for the next few weeks and potentially months.

“Because of the way in which we are able to do this on a daily rhythm all of these decisions are made jointly by the political leadership.

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“This is standard practice up and down local government, not just on decisions but emergency cash handed down by government.

“All of these decisions on funding, what is right for us to do, is checked in with the leader of the council.

“That is a much faster process but it has to be.”

Regular public council meetings where decisions would have otherwise been made by councillors have also been cancelled.

The only meeting taking place in the next three weeks at present is cabinet on April 7.

However this could be a “remote meeting” over a computer, a method which is already being used for council officers and leaders.

Many staff are also delivering services whilst working from home, in line with government advice.

Mr Reeves added: “All of our staff who are able to work from home to carry on delivering services – which excludes social care, waste services and children’s services and school workers – with the exception of all of those key frontline services everyone else is working from home.

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“It is absolutely critical to ensure we are keeping staff safe.

“Our face-to-face services are run to ensure the personal protective equipment is there such as the gloves, the masks and hygiene products.”

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