It is a pleasure to be able to write in the political column of the Times & Star. Local newspapers are the hub of local democracy.

I would like to start by thanking all of our NHS, care workers and key workers who have gone above and beyond through this pandemic and continue to do so. Our very own waste crews and street cleaners cannot be praised highly enough – all of these individuals stepped up and kept services going.

Without ALL of these workers where would our communities be? They should all be supported and know they have our eternal gratitude.

Of course, we cannot forget the mountain of volunteers that have also worked tirelessly in supporting our residents, and those officers from within our councils who have helped, supporting our volunteers.

For the first time in over 75 years our country, our county and our borough face challenges that are insurmountable unless all groups of all opinions, faith and persuasion come together in a single, unified body to defeat this horrible menace that is Covid 19. Therefore, I suggest as a council we should do the same.

While we all have different views it’s clear we need to work together to deliver the very best for Allerdale. Alan Smith, leader of the Labour group, and Mike Johnson, leader of the Conservatives, and myself need to come together to thrash out a plan to run the borough until May 2023.

I was heartened by Alan Smith’s declaration that he is willing to put people before party. I have not yet heard anything from Coun Johnson, but I am sure he is of a similar mind. The enemy is not Labour versus Tory and Independents or Tory versus Labour and Independents – the enemy is Covid 19 and the damage it has done.

One of our immediate tasks must be to ensure that no-one within the borough of Allerdale goes without food and other essentials. Another aspect that is easily forgotten it is the plight of those with mental health issues and depression due to isolation. We must find a way of tackling this sometimes-hidden consequence of this virus.

The solution to these issues can only be achieved with a totally unified approach.

Let us, therefore, strive together, keeping our eye on sweeping this pandemic from our lives.

The answer to all these issues, to my mind, is to form a Rainbow Alliance. We were willing to do this after the May elections, with shared leadership and a united chamber – it would truly be a great achievement.

Consider how much more can be done if the focus of every Allerdale borough councillor is single-mindedly turned towards addressing this terrible pandemic and its impact on our communities.

Stay safe and be kind to others.