To consider the report of the Head of
Regeneration and Development.
Councillor J. Wilkins declared an interest in this meeting, however she remained in the meeting during discussions.
Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Regeneration and Development.
The Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services welcomed the positive report which set out the proposed strategy that Blaenau Gwent would adopt in response to COVID19. The strategy supports the sectors and businesses in the County Borough and provided a progress update on the ongoing work taking place locally which fed into regional initiatives.
The Corporate Director stated that the COVID19 pandemic and lockdown had greatly affected many business and employment across Wales and the UK. The trading of most companies had been disrupted which caused both short and long term issues in many sectors. The report looked at data collated from various organisations and applied modelling to look at the possible unemployment figures for Blaenau Gwent. It also gave consideration to businesses which needed assistance and which could enhance the future local economy. The Corporate further provided a detailed overview of the information contained in the report.
The COVID unemployment modelling had been applied across different sectors and gave actual figures for unemployment in the Borough and noted that the worst case scenario would be just over 4,200 additional unemployed with 1,700 new employment expected over the same period. There were also a number of trends and actions emerging from the data and work could commence on initiatives that may need to be developed which would allow Blaenau Gwent businesses to adapt to the new ways of working which were outlined by the Corporate Director.
The Corporate Director further outlined the short and long term actions to be taken forward across the sectors as detailed in the report.
The Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development welcomed the work and advised that the report cut across a number of Service Areas. The Economic Development Team was a small section and had been supported by Revenues and Benefits to protect and support businesses by issuing grant funding. The contact with businesses had been maintained throughout lockdown and he wished to pass thanks to staff for their hard work.
The Executive Member continued that a great deal of jobs and businesses had been affected by the pandemic and the challenge continued as there was no end date. He was confident that the support was in place to protect whatever we are able to and continue to bring investment to Blaenau Gwent.
The Leader reiterated the efforts of officers during this period and informed that he had also been approached by individuals giving compliment to the work of the Economic Development Team to ensure their survival. The staff in Economic Development were tremendous and provided a great support during uncertain times.
The Leader added that the Regeneration and Economic Development reports considered had all be of excellent standard. It demonstrated the commitment and expertise in this area led by the Executive Member. The matters considered were important to the public and highlighted that these serious concerns could be addressed which had tested all authorities across Wales. It was a test to a serious politician and the Leader felt that the Authority had positioned itself well to address these issues.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be approved tocontinue working with partners to focus on the initiatives that would bring the most benefit post-COVID to BG. Those that would improve employment opportunities and support businesses to progress with digital improvements and a mix of home, virtual and shared space working.