Hull City Council leader Steve Brady says he is "immensely proud" of the way people in Hull have responded to the coronavirus crisis.

As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, the council is gradually returning to a 'business as normal' mode.

A number of libraries re-opened this week while the government has now signalled that indoor leisure centres and swimming pools can re-open from July 25.

However other council-owned facilities, including the New Theatre and the City Hall, have yet to be given the go-ahead to welcome back customers.

For the last four months Guildhall officials have dealt with a range of issues arising from the emergency, from co-ordinating local pubic health teams and working with schools to organising temporary accommodation for homeless people unable to stay in cramped hostels.

They have also had to cope with an unprecedented squeeze on finance, from a sharp slump in income from car parking to a marked reduction in the number of people paying council tax and business rates.

On top of that, the cancellation of big council-run events, including Hull Fair, have added to the gloom.

A report published earlier this week said possible job losses and cuts to services at the council were likely unless further government funding support was forthcoming.

Hull Fair
Hull Fair

Current estimates forecast a £70m shortfall in funding at the council over the next four years as a result of the impact of Covid-19 - assuming the virus continues to be present well into 2021.

Councillor Brady said managing the next phase of dealing with the emergency would be crucial.

He said: "These are incredibly difficult and challenging times but I am immensely proud of the council's work in reponding to the pandemic along with how our residents, businesses, voluntary and community sectors and pubic sector partners have all come together during the crisis to support each other.

"As we move into a new phase and look towards the future, it is vitally important that we continue to take a precautionary approach to the delivery of services within the new socially-distanced guidelines set by the government.

"The council, like all organisations, will face significant social and financial challenges as a consequence of the pandemic, whether that is through the impact of business closures or on unemployment, children and families affected through the closure of schools and health inequalities."

He said plans now being drawn up by the council to identify the help needed to support people and the city's economy as a whole were a vital step in the recovery process.

Issues being looked at include increased school cleaning regimes, extra support for patients discharged from hospitals and offering grants to hard-hit business sectors.

The council is also implementing social-distancing measures in the city centre and working out how to safely bring back thousands of its own staff into buildings and offices.

Cllr Brady said: "These plans, together with longer-term strategies to take the city forward will undoubtedly need to be reviewed as things develop over the coming weeks and months.

"It will be important for the council, together with our partners, to continue to listen to our communities in order to monitor, understand and respond efficiently to all of the challenges that we still face as a result of the pandemic."