Friday, October 7, 2022
Carmarthenshire Council borrowed £20 million in early days of Covid lockdown

Carmarthenshire Council borrowed £20 million in early days of Covid lockdown

CARMARTHENSHIRE Council borrowed £20 million in the first days of the coronavirus crisis to ensure it had enough money to cover extra expenditure, a report has said.

Senior officers also agreed to lease a unit for body storage, should it be required.

They were just two of the decisions taken under emergency delegated officer provisions as Wales entered lockdown.

The low-interest funding came from the Public Works Loans Board, via two £10 million loans.

Speaking at an executive board meeting on June 1, council chief executive Wendy Walters said: “We have now moved out of delegated officer decision-making and back into democratic decision mode.”

Council across Wales made a raft of decisions under emergency powers as they became a frontline in the fight against Covid-19.

Services were reorganised, council meetings suspended, field hospitals built, and Government grants given out to struggling businesses.

Carmarthenshire Council is forecasting some £5.2 million of additional expenditure by the end of June, plus a loss of income from things like car parks and leisure centres of around £6.2 million.

The report before the executive board said the Welsh Government had set up two hardship schemes for councils to claim back additional costs.

It added: “In respect of the loss in income that authorities are suffering the minister has recently agreed to set up a fund to support councils’ income loss and a claims process will be developed, recognising that all councils should mitigate the income loss wherever possible.”

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Mrs Walters said discussions were continuing with ministers about losses incurred.

Other decisions made by senior council officers in March and April included:

– Rent holiday for three months for council business tenants
– Financial support for food banks and food parcels
– Opening 13 child care hubs to look after key workers’ children and support vulnerable learners
– Administering business rates and rent relief schemes
– Approving steps to discharge planning conditions for a regeneration scheme next to the old Grillo site at Burry Port, with some work to start there prior to November.

Thanking CEO and council officers: Emlyn Dole

Council leader Emlyn Dole thanked Mrs Walters and all council officers for their hard work since the crisis began, which he said had meant 300 council services had continued.

“We are all deeply indebted to you all,” he said.

“Here in Carmarthenshire we do like to get on the front foot.”

Speaking after the meeting, the council’s head of regeneration, Jason Jones, said of the Burry Port scheme: “The proposals will support the wider regeneration masterplan for Burry Port which has been shared with the community and involves several different elements including opportunities for housing, leisure and retail.”

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