County Borough Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said: “Service delivery planning in response to the Coronavirus national health emergency is being developed on a daily basis, in swift response to the up-to-date public health advice being provided by the UK and Welsh Governments.
“The situation continues to change on a daily basis and as the impact of Coronavirus increases, it is increasingly likely that it will become necessary to adapt more services and how we operate as a Council. In such circumstances priority will need to be afforded to key front-line services and preserving services to the most vulnerable.
“The Council is already making a number of changes to how services operate in a variety of areas and, where appropriate, is supporting staff to work remotely to maintain core business functions for as long as possible.
“In addition to the closure of theatres and visitor attractions announced over the last two days, only six of our libraries now remain open - at Ferndale, Porth, Garth Olwg, Llantrisant, Aberdare and Mountain Ash - and it is likely that even further reductions or the complete suspension of some services could be necessary over the coming days and weeks, either in response to further changes to public health advice or to continue diverting staff resources to critical areas of need such as social care.
“We understand that today’s announcement from Welsh Government, that statutory education in all Welsh schools will cease by this Friday, will have implications for families across the County, particularly in terms of childcare - and I want to reassure parents that we are committed to ensuring that all eligible children will continue to receive free school meals. Further information will also be provided as soon as possible on provision for key workers.
“Where possible, we will of course seek to reduce a level of provision rather than remove the service completely, but based on the inevitable impact that the Coronavirus will have upon the Council’s own workforce, in terms of those experiencing symptoms and requiring self-isolation, service delivery will need to continuously adapt and respond in often significant and visible ways.
“This may include utilising Council buildings such as libraries and schools as hubs for co-ordinating emergency responses, and the wider impact could also range from decreasing the frequency of refuse collections, through to the availability of services such as Meals on Wheels. The series of services highlighted in today’s meeting paint a stark picture of the impact Coronavirus could have from a Council services’ perspective, however, the assistance of the business continuity planning and close adherence by us all to public health advice, will place us in in the strongest position to maintain essential services for the wider well-being of residents as possible in this continually evolving national health emergency.
“In these unprecedented times, the health and well-being of residents and Council employees will continue to be the key priority for the Council.
“Should the need arise, any decisions required to be made will be based on the latest, up-to-date guidance issued by either the UK or Welsh Government, or Public Health Wales - and in these scenarios it may be necessary for the Council to respond promptly. This is why the urgent decision I have published today seeks to plan for all eventualities including how decisions might be made in these unprecedented circumstances in the coming weeks and months.
“I urge residents across the County to follow the Public Health Wales advice and to keep up to date via our dedicated webpage www.rctcbc.gov.uk/publichealthrct for the latest information.”
A copy of the urgent decision taken by the Leader of the Council today can be found here.
Earlier this week Councillors were notified that meetings would only be convened to consider time-critical business for the foreseeable future.