Sheffield NHS worker urges council to close buildings with concern for friends

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An NHS worker has urged Sheffield Council to close its buildings after her friends raised concerns about leaving their home to go to work.

Amanda Cotton, who works for the NHS in Sheffield, sent an email to all local MPs and chiefs at the council including leader Julie Dore, deputy leader Terry Fox and Lord Mayor Tony Downing.

In her message she asked them to "do the right thing" and close all council buildings to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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She said: "I'm sure I don't need to explain the deep fears I have for the coming months. It is absolutely vital that everyone - without exception - follows government advice about social distancing if we are to stand the slightest chance of beating the virus.

Sheffield Town Hall. Picture: Marie CaleySheffield Town Hall. Picture: Marie Caley
Sheffield Town Hall. Picture: Marie Caley | JPIMedia Resell

"Sheffield City Council, as the leading employer in the city and the body responsible for the welfare of the city's citizens, MUST lead by example and do the right thing through this difficult time.

"I have friends who work for you. They tell me that, even though they do not deliver a critical or frontline service they are still expected to continue to travel into the office to work. This is just madness. The virus doesn't care where it spreads - in a pub, a restaurant, a cinema or an office. It just needs people and unclean surfaces.

"By insisting that your offices such as the old government building at the bottom of the Moor, the Town Hall, housing offices, etc remain open and people are required to work from them you are putting both your staff and the wider community at greater risk. Many of the staff will be forced to travel on public transport to reach the office, when we should all be avoiding non-critical travel.

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"You have a responsibility to the city's most vulnerable people to help protect them at this time. You should be closing offices and allowing people to work at home (this is 2020, not 1920 - we have the technology). I appreciate not all jobs can be done at home - bin collections, park keepers, etc - but those jobs don't require an office anyway.

"Please do the right thing by your staff and by the city's people, and close your big offices for the foreseeable future like other employers across the city are doing."

But the council insists the vast majority of its staff are working from home wherever possible.

Cuncillor Terry Fox, deputy leader of the council, said: "The message to council employees is clear: if you are not in an essential service then you must go home and not come in to any council buildings.

"It is crucial that council employees adhere to and follow the advice that has been provided by not only us, but the government."