It is expected that non-essential shops and other establishments will open up latter in the month and hopefully as we go through the summer visitors will return. I have seen in other towns and cities preparations being made by councils for opening up. Can you tell me if you have any plans to support our towns in opening and also what advice and guidance you have for the opening of toilet facilities.
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
Thank you for your question regarding the support the Council will be providing as town centres and non-essential shops re-open.
Following the announcement by Welsh Government on 19th June regarding the re-opening of non-essential retail, the Council prepared a range of advice for businesses, which is available on the website: https://en.powys.gov.uk/article/9273/Advice-for-businesses-on-latest-changes
Officers will be providing direct advice and support to businesses in response to inquiries received and a guidance leaflet providing health and safety advice (see attachment) has been emailed to retail premises that were permitted to re-open on Monday 22nd June.
The Welsh Government has implemented social distancing and hygiene measures to reduce the spread of Covid19 and requested that people abide by these requirements. Whilst the risks associated with Covid19 in the outdoors are considered to be significantly lower than in more confined environments, we do recognise that targeted and localised reallocation of road space in our town centres could aid in reducing these risks further. Like many other local authorities across Wales and the UK we will ‘widen’ pavements by cordoning off some on-street parking and where appropriate closing streets or road lanes. This is intended to encourage businesses to re-open and for people to shop in the knowledge they can do so safely. It is difficult to fully predict behaviour or demand, so there will inevitably need to be refinement of these measures as we move forward through the recovery phase.
I can also advise that we have been successful with an expression of interest to the Welsh Government for funding under their Local Sustainable Transport Covid Response Fund 2020-21, to provide temporary measures in our main towns that will assist in facilitating social distancing in those high streets. We will endeavour over the coming weeks and months to engage with the Local Members and Town/Community Councils during the development and implementation of plans.
Whilst it is an important function, providing public toilets is not a statutory duty of the Council and over the last five years or so, following a transition grant that has now ended, they are all financed and operated by Town & Community Councils or community groups across Powys, except for two that Powys County Council still currently operate. We are aware that some operators have chosen to keep public toilets open during these unprecedented times, whereas others for a variety of reasons have chosen to close or restrict opening hours during lockdown. We have recently shared an example risk assessment as guidance to operators to help and encourage them to maintain service provision as lockdown eases. We would encourage local members to contact their local operators and work with their communities to maintain provision through the recovery phase.
Powys towns are important visitor destinations, with the tourism sector making a significant contribution to the local economy. The Council has been working closely with Visit Wales and the sector during the pandemic to provide advice and support to businesses. Detailed industry guidance on the opening-up of ... view the full minutes text for item 1.