TWO Carmarthenshire county councillors have proactively responded to community needs during the COVID-19 crisis.  Speaking to Llanelli Online some way into their ongoing community project, Cllr Amanda Fox and Cllr John James from Burry Port said…

“Hospitality and independent non-essential retailers in Burry Port were severely challenged before Covid-19 but since it has impacted on our everyday life, they’ve paid a heavy price in tackling the spread of the Coronavirus by closing their doors and laying off or furloughing their staff and even having to negotiate a rent holiday with their landlords.

Cllr John James and Amanda Fox at the food bank.

“Moreover, as a relaxation on Lockdown measures becomes more evident, they are in a state of uncertainty surrounding the conditions which will be imposed on them when they are allowed to trade again. The hospitality businesses in Burry Port do not have the luxury of a vast outdoor space so the concept of pedestrianising parts of the town to cater for these businesses will benefit them as well as the retail sector.

“Another benefit for operating this way is that it is far less likely to pass the virus on from an infected individual to someone without the virus while outside. Liverpool and Manchester are examples of places that already done this and there’s no reason why it can’t be done in Burry Port. The retail and hospitality sectors in Burry Port have been inventive and innovative in coming up with a concept such as this and are keen to make it work.

“The businesses will ensure the safety of the customers, diners and staff will be paramount and will not be compromised as won’t accessibility for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and prams. Our businesses in Burry Port are demonstrating a vivid re-imagining and re-designing in their thinking as they peruse radical solutions to encourage enterprise while also adding positively to the environment. We are supporting these businesses for all these reasons and hope Carmarthenshire County Council will do likewise.

“These solutions brought forward by the Business Community in Burry Port may be the only chance they will have to survive and keep staff employed. Hopefully, if this concept is given the green light it will encourage more walking and cycling within the Town Centre as well as having a positive environmental impact.”

Councillors Amanda Fox and John James set up a temporary food bank at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. The food bank supports those that have been badly affected by COVID-19, including people who have been laid off work, on furlough or others waiting for universal tax credits.

Others that have reached out to the food bank during the pandemic have included elderly people that haven’t been able to visit the post office to access their money as well as self-employed workers that have been hit hard financially.

Local businessman Kevin Francis who also runs Burry Port AFC offered the food bank the club’s changing room premises as a base. That is where volunteers have been running the operation from ever since, with the food bank supporting a total of 75 households a week. The location of the premises ensure some form of discretion for people who may have reservations about attending a food bank in the middle of the town. The volunteers hand out the food with no form filling.

Cllr Fox said: “If people are coming to the food bank that is all we need, we don’t have to interrogate them and add to their suffering.”

Speaking to Llanelli Online about the success of the food bank Cllrs Fox and James said “We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated food, toiletries, money, pet food ,their time, their support, their offers of help, as well as a thank you to all the Churches, Businesses, Organisations and the County and Town Councils who have also been part of this incredible project.

“You are all part of something special at a time when people need you… This crisis is far from over, we appreciate the kindness you continue to show in our wonderful community.”

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