THERE are many big words in the English language. But sometimes the short ones are best.

The one I’m using this week is ‘thanks’. Firstly, to everyone involved in getting our schools reopened after the lockdown. Thanks to school heads, teachers and staff. To those arranging transport, to our catering teams, to welfare officers. To the thousands of parents, grandparents and carers, and the kids themselves, who have suffered unprecedented disruption to their education.

Thank-you to the volunteers, organisations and council staff and trade unions who are still working hard to make sure we keep supporting vulnerable people in the community. And thanks to the many businesses working with us on their recovery plans to ensure Bury remains prosperous.

Finally, I want to thank health, social care and other key workers who put themselves on the frontline of fighting this virus – some of whom lost their own lives trying to keep us safe. These workers truly are heroes and just as they have looked after us, we should do all we can to look after them.

It is why I proposed a motion at full council to formally thank these workers and call for fairer council funding to ensure their jobs are protected and they are appreciated through the payment of a real living wage.

Without this, the financial impact of Covid will mean yet more years of massive cuts to council services. After 10 years of government cuts, with over £100m lost, we must not abandon key workers to redundancies and wage freezes again. This was wrong before Covid, it will be even worse after all we’ve been through.

Equally, we cannot let all their good work go to waste by being complacent about the rising number of virus cases. We have seen additional restrictions in Bury and an economic lockdown in Bolton. We’re lobbying government to take action and fund a local track and trace system, to help us deal with any outbreaks and get back to normality.

The majority of new cases are among under-40s but we cannot be complacent. Catching this illness and bringing it home to our families has serious consequences. Don’t wait until it moves on up the age scale again and hits older friends, family, neighbours and those with health conditions. Don’t put our NHS at breaking point, as they deal with a potential winter double whammy of regular flu and coronavirus.

To everyone who helps us avoid that, I say ‘thanks’ to you too.