Announcements Local Announcements and Updates

Cornwall Council Corona Update : Statement to cabinet, New powers for upper tier councils, Face coverings

Hello,

Please find my briefing to Cornwall Councillors for your information and dissemination. The Truro and Roseland Community Network Panel supported the highways scheme put forward by St Just in Roseland Parish Council last night, this was the only Roseland scheme this time.

Best wishes, Julian

Dear colleagues,

I’d like to begin this briefing note with the statement I gave to cabinet earlier today:

Colleagues, these continue to be challenging times. Cornwall councillors and staff have adapted to new working practices and our staff have devised creative ways to continue delivering the services our residents rely on. My sincere thanks to you all. As we continue the recovery process, we’re now focusing on moving from a crisis response towards a new normal – living with Covid-19. As Prof Chris Whitty, the Governments Chief Medical Advisor, said yesterday, we will be living with coronavirus for some time. We have created our Local Outbreak Management Plan and we will continue to do all we can to keep residents safe. However, the Council cannot be everywhere and the Police have said that they will not attend reports of people not wearing masks unless there is a public order offence.

From the start of this pandemic, Cornwall Council has put our residents first and we will continue to do so. Our economy is opening up and we have given extensive support to our business’ so that they can operate safely.

I again plead with our residents and visitors to follow public health advice, to keep socially distanced, to wash your hands regularly and to wear masks in line with guidance. We have seen people caring for one another and this needs to continue if we are going to navigate our way through the pandemic, residents and visitors alike. Please be kind to one another.

At a recent meeting between myself and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, he congratulated Cornwall Council on our great delivery and exemplary approach during the pandemic. He also said that he was requesting the Chancellor to make available the unspent money from the business rate grants to be used for discretionary business grants. We have been asking for this consistently over the last two months. We have been approached by over 3500 Cornish business’ seeking financial help to survive. This money is already in our account, but currently Government will not allow us to use it.

This is an issue across the country, the Local Government Association stated; “The Government should redistribute any unspent resources from business rates grants to councils to be spent on local efforts to help further support businesses and reboot local economies as we move into the next phase of this crisis.

If this money was released we would be able to help all of these 3,500 businesses. I hope that the Secretary of State, and all of us that have been lobbying, including the Local Enterprise Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses to name a few, are successful, so that struggling businesses in Cornwall and across the country, can be helped, and jobs can be saved.

Moving onto leisure centres. The majority of Councils across the country do not direct deliver leisure services. None of us have received financial support to keep these important facilities going. Whilst leisure centres, gyms and pools will be allowed to reopen from 25 July, GLL run facilities in Cornwall will re-open in a phased way for safety reasons – prioritising those centres best suited to being COVID-secure in the first instance and then gradually rolling out others.

GLL which runs many of the leisure services in Cornwall, is a charitable social enterprise that employs around 900 people. The cost of keeping centres in hibernation for four months, with no income, has resulted in a total funding shortfall of around £5m. We remain in negotiations with GLL and are trying to find a solution to what has become a serious financial challenge.

The Local Government Association, on behalf of Councils across the country, is saying; “We are calling on the Government to introduce emergency funding to stabilise providers in the leisure sector who are ineligible for much of the emergency funding due to their charity status but continue to incur costs whilst closed and are near collapse.” I hope we and the LGA are successful in this. Our leisure centres play an important role in reducing the burden on the NHS, tackling health inequalities and are a key delivery vehicle for social prescribing. This much needed funding will ensure that residents can have affordable leisure provision and exercise opportunities.

Last Thursday night I, and the Deputy Leader, and a panel of stakeholders from across Cornwall came together for “the Cornwall we want” livestream. This will be our biggest ever listening project. About 600 residents listened and participated, giving their views and commenting on the views of others. When we conceived this project we hoped that this would be a live face to face event, that of course was not possible. I am very grateful to all who took part online, and many more of these events will take place, on different platforms and in different ways. We want to hear residents’ ideas about how we can work together to address the biggest challenges facing us. We want to understand residents hopes and aspirations, because everyone has a role to play in creating the Cornwall we want for future generations.

At today’s Cabinet meeting, not only will we be looking at the immediate financial challenges facing us, but also how we ensure more of our elderly residents can live with their own front door in a safe environment, how we can continue to revitalise our fore streets and tackle climate change, all of these are issues that we are hearing clearly matter to our residents.

New powers for upper tier Councils

As you are no doubt aware, the government has granted upper tier local authorities new decision-making powers to enable them to act swiftly to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks of COVID 19. These include local powers to close individual premises, public outdoor places and prevent specific events if necessary. To address more serious and wider-spread cases, Government Ministers will be able to use their existing powers to implement more substantial restrictions on a case by case basis. This is an important development and we look forward to receiving more details from government about how these plans will work in practical terms. More information about these new powers can be found on the government’s website here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers#annex-2

Face coverings

From July 24 members of the public will be legally required to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets – children under the age of 11 and people with certain disabilities are exempt.

People who work in shops and supermarkets may not have to wear a face covering if the risk assessment undertaken by their business has other control measures, but members of the public will still be required to do so. People are already required to wear a face covering on public transport.

This is an important step in our collective fight against coronavirus. Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease by people who have coronavirus but are not showing symptoms. People with coronavirus symptoms, as well as members of their household, should continue to follow the advice to self-isolate.

It is worth noting that face coverings are not the same as face masks – which generally refers to medical grade masks that should only be used by care and health professionals. It is important we continue to make this distinction to ensure that suitable PPE remains available for our frontline staff.

Important link.

All coronavirus related enquiries or issues to our dedicated email addresscovid19@cornwall.gov.uk.

Anyone who needs help can request a volunteer by ringing 01872 266988 or emailingrequestforhelp@volunteercornwall.org.uk.

Find out more about the support available for businesses here: Business Rate Support Council Tax Support and Growth Hub

Please take care of yourselves,

Best wishes

Julian

Julian German

Hembrenkyas an Konsel

Konseler Kernow rag Pastel-vro An Ros

Leader of the Council

Cornwall Councillor for the Roseland Division

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