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Cancelled events could cost Powys £70m

Created on 10/06/2020 @ 12:10
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In her latest column, Powys County Council Leader Rosemarie Harris has given an assessment on the real cost that cancelling events will have on the local economy.

The county is into its third month battling Covid-19 and while it appears to have past the peak with the number of new cases reported daily falling in Powys, we cannot be complacent as the impact of fewer restrictions nationally is not yet known.

The Cabinet has started to focus its attention on the future and what the county may look like post Covid-19. We all know Powys is heavily reliant on tourism and that our major events play a crucial role. The loss of the Royal Welsh Show, Hay Festival, the Green Man Festival, Brecon Jazz, Machynlleth Comedy Festival and many other smaller events during 2020 will be keenly felt by businesses across the county. It is estimated that they generate around £70 million for the county’s economy.

Their cancellation will also have far reaching supply chain consequences for the whole hospitality sector in Powys, particularly hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and public houses.

With mass gatherings unlikely to be restored quickly the impact of Covid-19 is likely to be with us for some considerable time. It is because of their importance that I have written to the Secretary of State for Wales, the Rt Hon Simon Hart MP and to Ken Skates, Welsh Government Minister, urging governments to provide a support package for event organisers, similar to that given to business, to ensure they survive Coronavirus.

Should some of these events not be able to return following the pandemic it will leave a considerable economic and cultural chasm not only in Powys, but throughout Wales. I have thanked both for the business support already provided to the county, our staff have allocated £42 million to nearly 4,000 businesses since the start of the pandemic.

The Welsh Government will be reviewing the country’s restrictions next week, but the First Minister has already warned that progress will be cautious and that the re-opening of hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities will not happen quickly.

With the impact of Covid-19 likely to be with us for some considerable time the Mid Wales Growth Deal is a priority. Last month the Growing Mid Wales Joint Committee met online, allowing Leaders, Cabinet Members and senior management of Powys County Council and Ceredigion Council to approve the Proposition Document which sets out the Strategic Economic Plan and Growth Deal Road Map.

The decision paves the way for £165 million to be injected into the Mid Wales economy - £55 million from both UK and Welsh Governments and investment of £55 million from businesses.

We are not at the stage of choosing projects just yet, this document is to take us through to the next stage and underlines that Mid-Wales needs this investment. One of the most important things is that the strategy is not set in stone. It’s going to be important that we have flexibility as the economic impact of the pandemic becomes clearer. Both councils and Welsh Government have already committed funding for the work which will provide sound foundations for growing our economy in the coming years.

A key element of easing the Covid-19 lockdown arrangements will be knowing where the virus is in our communities and limiting its spread. Powys is part of the ‘Test Trace Protect’ strategy for Wales which involves public testing and tracing the spread of Coronavirus. Earlier this week the initiative was launched in the county after a trial period.

Working in partnership with Powys Teaching Health Board and the Welsh Government, the strategy involves clinical experts from the health board and our Environmental Health officers working together on this crucial task, providing advice and guidance to teams of Contact Tracers.

Our joint team is talking to people who have tested positive for Covid-19, to find out about their community contacts, and follow this up so that more people can be tested, to enable us to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in Powys.

All of us share an important responsibility to protect others and to provide information so that contacts can be advised of the steps they need to take.

The work is vital in defeating this horrible disease.”

Councillor Rosemarie Harris

Leader of Powys County Council

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