AFTER three months of lockdown, Gillingham Town Council has reflected on what the authority and community have done to support the town through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heard during the online full council meeting Monday night, the response in Gillingham started around the time lockdown was first announced, through the council sourcing volunteers and later launching a community engagement management team.

More than 100 volunteers were then stationed across 240 areas of Gillingham, tasked with supporting vulnerable residents through helping with shopping, delivering more than 120 prescriptions, walking dogs and just being there as someone to talk to.

The Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund awarded £2,425 to the council, to enable the volunteer scheme to be set up.

As well as offering a town-wide volunteer service, as lockdown measures started to relax the council implemented signage and visuals to advise residents - reminding them of social distancing measures in force.

With footfall recently increasing, the council has urged the public to ‘shop local’ and has also addressed problems including flytipping, BBQs leading to fire, vandalism, graffiti and littering.

At the beginning of the meeting’s coronavirus discussion, Councillor Barry von Clemens thanked the community leaders, deputy mayor Paul Harris, town council staff, councillors and volunteers for their response to the pandemic.

He said: “I’d like to just thank absolutely everybody, this town’s response to this crisis has been absolutely amazing.”

At the end of the item it was approved that a community volunteer task and finish group would be formed to manage an ‘exit strategy and contingency plan’, made up of Cllrs Weeks, Cullen, Harris and Toye and project administrator Serena Burgess.

It was also supported by the council that eating-out licences and a street closure should be in place from 4pm on Fridays to 10pm on Sundays at The Square, subject to consultation with businesses and residents.

During the meeting Cllr Val Pothecary said: “I know each one of us is very proud of our town, but what has been achieved by the whole community including councillors and workforce has been totally amazing.

“I must say as a Dorset councillor I have bragged about how successfully Gillingham has handled the Covid-19 crisis, and everyone seems to know about it anyway.

“I think you’ve done just a brilliant job - well done Gillingham.”