To receive a report from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration providing Members with update information regarding the Growth, Economy & Delivery team’s COVID19 emergency economic and community response activities, to inform members of the Devon-wide economic recovery work and to seek Members’ endorsement for the current business support and economic recovery activities.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a report * from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration providing it with updated information regarding the Growth, Economy & Delivery team’s COVID 19 emergency economic and community response activities. It also informed Members of the Devon wide economic recovery work and sought Members endorsement for the current business support and economic recovery activities.
The contents of the report were outlined with particular reference to the following:
· The situation in terms of the effects and response to the pandemic was constantly changing and there had been a number of developments since the report for the meeting had been published.
· Covid 19 had affected different businesses in different ways. The easing of lockdown restrictions had been welcome news for the tourism industry in Devon and Cornwall but it was important not to become complacent.
· The number of businesses assisted and the amounts provided, as outlined in the report, was reiterated.
· Community support had continued with vulnerable people required to shield being supported with food parcels. This would be scaled down at the end of July once these people were no longer required to shield. However, efforts would be made to ensure that vulnerable people had alternative arrangements in place to support their needs after 1 August.
· The Council had worked closely with CHAT who had received 5 times more enquiries for help with food than normal.
· Emergency community hardship grants, funded by Devon County Council, had also been issued although the sums of money involved had been small. It was expected that people would need considerable financial help in the coming months as the full effect of the pandemic and loss of income impacted residents of Mid Devon.
· An action plan in relation to the re-opening of town centres had been considered by the Cabinet on 9th July. The plan included informational and directional signage as well as providing key information to the public as they move through town centres. The Council would be updating its messaging as a result of having to wear face coverings in all shops as from 24th July.
· The re-opening of café’s, restaurants and pubs on the 4th July had presented challenges to business owners but the town councils had been very helpful in providing essential support and information at very short notice. Specific thanks were extended to the Clerk at Tiverton Town Council who had been very helpful in organising a webinar for local traders. This had been very well received. Similar support and assistance had also been provided by Crediton and Cullompton Town Councils in conjunction with the Clerk of Tiverton Town Council.
· ‘Love your Town Centre’ funds had been distributed. Crediton Town Council had used this to provide the seating referred to by the Chairman earlier in the meeting.
· Planning for recovery was taking place on a number of different levels. The Group were referred to the ‘Team Devon Covid 19 Economy and Business Recovery Prospectus’. This was a lobbying document setting out how the region could benefit from funding opportunities. It focussed on 4 key areas which were, businesses, places, people and opportunities. A number of action points were listed which the partnership were working hard to implement. The document provided a good basis for the recovery plan and had achieved effective collaborative discussion in its production. It also had support from local MP’s. The Group considered that what was contained within the document was very promising but also hoped its aspirations were realistic and forthcoming.
· The context of the Discretionary Grant Scheme was explained. The Council had been able to use 5% of the total grant allocated to it under the national scheme to help businesses under this scheme. The Council was doing all it could to access any unspent monies in the national scheme to further support local businesses in Mid Devon.
Note: * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.