I will begin this briefing once again with my opening to yesterday’s press briefing, which contains several updates of recent events:
Press Briefing statement
I’d like to begin today’s briefing by talking about tourism and the visitor economy - a particularly important subject given the government’s plans to further ease lockdown measures around the hospitality sector from July 4th.
Throughout the pandemic Cornwall Council has been clear that our aims have been to keep our residents safe and support our businesses.
We recognise the value and importance of our visitor economy, which is why we have worked closely with Visit Cornwall throughout.
Recently we have seen worrying predictions that point to an increase in Covid-19 cases in Cornwall if our population rises significantly over the summer months.
We have already been hit hardest of any region by the economic impact of the virus. A second spike would not only put lives at risk but may lead to a further lockdown, which would have devastating consequences for businesses all over Cornwall.
For that reason, we’re encouraging a careful and measured approach to the reopening of our visitor economy – an approach that protects residents and visitors alike and puts safety first.
Cornwall Council has worked tirelessly to administer more than £230m in business grants, and in conjunction with our town and parish councils we have helped to make sure our town centres can reopen safely - but businesses must not be forced to choose between the safety of their staff and their livelihoods.
The economic effects of the pandemic are profound and will take time far beyond the summer months to resolve. That’s why we’re calling on the government to provide more support in the form of business grants and extended furloughs to help Cornwall’s recovery.
Of course, as a local authority Cornwall Council has no say on when and where people can go on holiday from July 4 – that’s a matter for the government, and something we have prepared for.
Cornwall is and will always be a welcoming place, and we know that after the long and difficult weeks of lockdown many people will be looking to us as a destination for a summer break.
If you do intend to visit us this summer, please plan ahead, follow the guidance on face coverings and social distancing, and be considerate of those who live and work here so we stay safe together.
To ensure that businesses that will be able to reopen and operate safely, Cornwall Council’s public protection team, in conjunction with Visit Cornwall, are working with businesses to ensure they are Covid-safe, which may involve changes to ensure social distancing, along with enhanced hygiene measures.
Visit Cornwall has also stressed that it is essential to pre-book, not only accommodation, but also dining reservations and activities, and recommends buying advanced tickets for our attraction - that way everyone can have a great holiday and help keep themselves and our communities safe.
Finally, I’d like to pay tribute to all those involved in helping our town centres successfully reopen this week.
After so many weeks of lockdown, this was no mean feat and it is testament to the hard work carried out by town and parish councils, BIDs and community groups across Cornwall, in conjunction with our business community, that so many of our high street shops were able to open their doors for the first time since the end of March.
This has been and continues to be an incredibly challenging time for Cornwall, and as I mentioned earlier none of us is under any illusion that the economic damage caused by the pandemic can be remedied overnight.
This was a positive and important first step on what will undoubtedly be a long road to recovery, and there is much work still to be done.
We are continuing to distribute discretionary grant funding as quickly as we can, with £5.5 million administered so far - but it’s clear that demand will outstrip the funds available to us.
The deadline for expression of interest in discretionary grants is now extended to June 24 and I would encourage any businesses that do not qualify for other types of funding to complete one. You can find details on our website at www.cornwall.gov.uk/coronavirus.
I would like to reiterate Cornwall Council’s commitment to continue lobbying government for more support for Cornwall.
Once lockdown began, all of the council’s departments were affected by the new rules and had to adapt quickly in order to continue to offer an effective service for residents.
Each had its own unique challenges alongside those everyone shared, such as starting remote working and balancing work with the demands of home schooling.
Planning was hit hard, especially as site visits were not feasible and the traditional planning committees were unable to meet due to the social distancing rules.
However, working practices were reviewed and technology embraced immediately, and, since the end of March, the team have managed to process 2,353 planning applications, including 353 applications for dwellings.
Planning committee meetings are now up and running as well, which is a great effort once again by our staff.
Redruth to benefit from Heritage High Street Fund
Redruth is to receive a share of the £95 million High Streets Heritage Action Zones fund, one of only 10 places in the South West to benefit from this national scheme. It follows a bid submitted by Cornwall Council in partnership with the Redruth High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Project Board.
The grant of £1,689,063, awarded by Historic England, will attract a further £3 million of investment from the private and public sectors. Commitment already secured will see:
• Derelict and underused buildings in the town centre revitalised
• Public realm and access improvements
• A programme of events and activities focused on and led by young people
• The launch of Alma Place by Redruth Town Council as a library and gateway to the town for residents, businesses and visitors.
We are undertaking a member survey to check in with you about how you are working due to Covid-19 and lockdown. This survey asks how you are doing and how you are finding managing aspects of your role from home which previously you would have done in person.
The survey also looks at the future role of the modern Cornwall Councillor and planning for the new administration. The Positive Governance project had gathered members’ views about the future via workshops and a survey. However, some things we were planning have now happened much more quickly than expected. Some things have become more important and other things less so.
Your feedback can shape how we evolve to cope with these unprecedented times and make the best of the situation, including virtual meetings, climate impact and use of paper.
Some of these same questions are also being asked in a residents’ survey so that we can match your insights with theirs.
There are twenty questions, although some of them have multiple parts. All questions and fields are optional.
You can take the survey here
All coronavirus related enquiries or issues to our dedicated email address email@example.com. This email address is monitored seven days-a-week.
Anyone who needs help can request a volunteer by ringing 01872 266988 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about the support available for businesses here: Business Rate Support Council Tax Support and Growth Hub
Please take care of yourselves,
Hembrenkyas an Konsel
Konseler Kernow rag Pastel-vro An Ros
Leader of the Council
Cornwall Councillor for the Roseland Division