FIFE COUNCIL will "not be the same again" and new ways have to be found to allow the Kingdom to "recover from the disaster that we have all witnessed".

That's according to the co-leaders, Councillors David Alexander and David Ross, who said the virus had left a "daunting" £19 million hole in the budget and praised staff for their "fantastic efforts" during lockdown.

In a joint report, they stated: "This pandemic has shown that well-resourced, well-led public services with dedicated staff are essential in times of crisis."

A full council meeting was arranged for today (Thursday) to discuss the impact of COVID-19, the response and the recovery, as well as possible changes to the governance structure of the local authority.

The co-leaders said: "It is fair to say that the events from March give some credence to the view that the council in terms of the way it operates will not be the same again, operationally and politically."

And they added: "The administration is looking at the way the political structure can reflect the requirement to become more nimble and adaptable to the new ways of working that will allow the council and Fife to recover from the disaster that we have all witnessed, and are still witnessing."

The impact of the virus was felt in Fife in early March and has continued for five months.

Councillors Alexander and Ross wrote: "Every day provided new challenges for public services in Fife.

"At the same time, it became evident that staff, trade unions and management were prepared to forgo normal activity, where they could, to ensure that vulnerable people and the general public were protected and provided with information and services.

"Staff moved to different services to allow the more vital operations to continue or restart.

"Many communities organised themselves and volunteering on a large scale occurred locally and nationally."

They continued: "We would like to record our gratitude for the efforts of our staff, as well as the staff and volunteers from other organisations and communities, for their fantastic and continuing efforts during the pandemic.

"We still have major issues to deal with. The financial challenge is daunting. The estimated gross cost of the pandemic is £86m, with the net cost estimated at £19m.

"Governments, COSLA and Fife Council finance staff are looking at ways to alleviate these pressures."

The co-leaders said there were positives and added: "A welcome but major challenge comes with the re-opening of schools. Additional teachers have been recruited.

"The pandemic has curtailed the full change to the 1,140 hours free nursery model but most people will benefit.

"The resumption of the construction of new nurseries will see the full roll-out when these facilities become operational.

"More council departments and services are in the process of resuming as the lockdown eases into the recovery stage.

"However, it is still vital that these are well-planned and cautious as the virus has not gone away."