Councillor's reflection a year after Covid fight

R4U Councillor Arthur Coote

R4U Councillor Arthur Coote - Credit: Archive picture

A councillor who suffered from Covid has talked about the ways in which his perspective has changed over the past year. 

Councillor Arthur Coote had coronavirus complications while he was Saffron Walden Town Council mayor last year, and found the illness 'debilitating'. His wife was also ill.

He has now recovered from Covid, but feels it has impacted on a lot of people and their livelihood in Uttlesford.

He has noticed ‘real poverty’ in recent weeks, while campaigning ahead of the upcoming May elections. 

He said: “I always felt we were a middle-class, rich area.

"As the lockdown has progressed, lots of people have been supported with furlough, but if you lose 20 percent of your income, that affects people. 

"There are a lot of people in Uttlesford who are self-employed, who were really missed by the government. Some lost their income." 

He added: "It’s come to me how difficult it has been for some people.

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"A young woman said, ‘we haven’t got any milk’. Another woman, who has been given a flat, is sharing a bed with her seven-year-old child." 

Cllr Coote said the pandemic has been very isolating. 

He added: “I have missed socialising. We can’t meet at a coffee shop anymore. 

“The old generation missed going to visit our grandchildren. I haven’t met my youngest grandchild, who is one-year-old now. 

The schools being closed has been a big problem, they lost so much socialisation.” 

He thinks the pandemic has created a lot of change, with medical appointments done via telephone and shops being closed. 

He said: “It’s very rare to see a doctor now. I had to get the phone to show my wife’s leg to the doctor.  

“When I look around the town, I see shops that will never reopen.  

“We had to go online to get a birthday card, which is not easy for my generation.” 

He now walks around villages as much as when he was a boy.   

He said: “Before, there was a complacency that I will do that one day. Now, every day we say, ‘where do you fancy walking?’ It’s something we won’t stop doing.” 

Cllr Coote said he also realised the NHS was not as fit for purpose as previously thought.   

He added: “My generation always thought we had the best health service in the world, but it’s been underfunded and lacked resources for years. Hospitals didn’t have the equipment to deal with this pandemic. That’s why we lost so many people.” 

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