ON Wednesday (Jul 29) Ceredigion council members were updated on changes to the risk register made prior to lockdown in March but the “most significant risk” was the Covid-19 risk said corporate lead office for policy, performance and public protection Alun Williams.

The new – highest scoring – threat added to the corporate risk register was discussed at the authority’s first meeting of its audit committee since lockdown. It will come as no surprise that the biggest risk facing Ceredigion County Council is Covid-19 and its impact on the economy, service provision and well-being of residents.

Mr Alun Williams said that some of the potential consequences of the pandemic such as high levels of infection and excess deaths had not been as serious as feared but also considered is the threat of economic downturn, disruption to service provision and threats to personal well-being – which will also come into play in any second wave of cases.

The committee heard that by June 30 there had been 58 cases of Covid-19 and nine deaths in the county, including those from outside Ceredigion who had died at Bronglais Hospital.

There 23 staff redeployed to other roles at the start of lockdown, which has now decreased and there were 81 members of staff without connection or equipment allowing them to work from home.

In an “incredible logistical effort” Mr Williams said that 2.8million items of PPE had been distributed as well as regular food boxes to 955 shielding people.

A contingency fund of £1.5million has been identified for Covid-19 requirements.

Cllr Gareth Williams said: “As someone who has been shielded since March I am very glad to live in this part of the country.”

He praised the work of the council’s response, adding “the figures provided are proof that we acted quickly, the lockdown happened very quickly in Ceredigion and benefited people.”

Cllr Williams added that he had not required a food box but those that had were pleased with its quality.

The impact on tourism and hospitality was highlighted by Cllr Elizabeth Evans, who warned that employment figures in this sector in October will be “startling.”

She called for a task group to be set up to focus on the sector “because Ceredigion is so dependant on the tourist/hospitality sector that needs to be got a grip of.”

‘Staycations’ would boost visitor numbers this summer but the figures in Autumn will show “who survives in this” added Cllr Evans referring to local business chance to increase custom.

Audit Wales is undertaking a Covid-19 learning project the committee heard with some of the work carried out by Ceredigion included in best practice, the most recent being its ‘safe towns’ initiative.

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