Plaid Cymru councillors in Carmarthenshire have praised residents for respecting lockdown rules in the fight to control Covid-19 and protect the NHS. The party, which leads the council, has also thanked thousands of its staff and community volunteers for going the extra mile to ensure that families are fed, the elderly cared for and grants speedily processed to help keep local businesses solvent.
“While some powerful people have used the excuse of ‘following their instincts’ to justify breaking the lockdown, ordinary people have fought every instinct in their body by staying away from the bedside of ill and dying relatives, not attending the funerals of friends and neighbours, not seeing family members for months on end, and keeping away from beaches and beauty spots during the glorious bank holiday weekend weather,” said Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole. “We did have reports today of some transgressions, but I hope that these are exceptions and that people will not emulate recent events by flouting the regulations.”
“The vast majority of people in Carmarthenshire have respected the emergency measures passed to protect us all,” added Cllr Glynog Davies. “Parents have had to become teachers and children have gone for many weeks without seeing their friends at school. They’ve suffered in silence for the sake of the common good. Their fortitude and determination to fight this terrible virus deserves our recognition and admiration.”
“Thousands of people who are self-isolating depend on meals, medicines and so on being delivered to their homes,” said Cllr Emlyn Schiavone. “Hundreds of council staff have been transferred from their usual duties to pack and deliver Free School Meals, aided by an army of community volunteers who have really stepped up to the mark to meet this great logistical challenge.”
Cllr Hazel Evans pointed out that despite staff shortages for various reasons associated with the virus, refuse is still being collected, residential homes are still fully staffed and all other essential services maintained. “While central governments were failing to meet testing targets and supply sufficient PPEs for NHS and Social Care staff, local councils rolled up their sleeves and got on with the job of meeting residents’ needs,” she said.
As the lockdown gradually eases, decisions on how that should happen must be made by local councils, businesses and residents, said Cllr Gareth John. “This crisis has shown that we can look after ourselves at the most local level possible – and must continue to do so. Health quite rightly commands the headlines, but dealing with Covid-19 also comes at a huge social and economic cost.”
The county council has distributed some £40m in grants to local businesses. It has also delivered 17,700 Free School Meals, 6,000 food parcels to needy families, and delivered 1.6m PPE items. The council’s call centre has dealt with 46,000 inquiries since the crisis started, its website has had 1.3m visits and 6.8m hits on social media.