Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture / Leader of the Labour Group
Pembrokeshire County Council
Supporting the recovery of Pembrokeshire’s economy in the wake of lockdown is a key priority for Pembrokeshire County Council, says Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economic Development.
It’s obvious to anyone that the economic fall out from lockdown is going to be significant. I’ll leave it to the national news to provide the national picture but in terms of Pembrokeshire we are, unfortunately, likely to be among the worst affected counties in the UK.
The Tourism and Leisure Sectors account for as many as 1 in 5 jobs in Pembrokeshire by some measures. To make matters worse, our estimate is that fewer than 1 in 4 Pembrokeshire jobs can easily be undertaken from home.
At the last count, just short of 40% of the working age population in Pembrokeshire was either furloughed, unemployed or benefiting from the Self-Employed Income Support scheme. The Council has issued more than £49m of grant support to Pembrokeshire businesses since March.
With the lockdown coming to a controlled end over this week and next, it’s my job to make sure the local authority is doing everything in its power to support the economic recovery of our county.
Given the scale of the crisis we face most of the support still needs to come from UK Government. Only they, working with the Bank of England, have the scale to respond to a crisis of this magnitude. That said, Pembrokeshire Council too have a smaller but significant role to play and my commitment to you is this.
We will be as responsive to the easing of lockdown restrictions as any Local Authority in Wales. Where Welsh Government decide activity can resume safely we will ensure we’re ready and as best we can, we’ll get out of the way when it comes to regulation and do our upmost to lend a helping hand where it’s needed.
Supporting this countys business is the key to sustaining jobs and livelihoods and it will be the Councils priority. We will look to bring forward our spending plans to provide a small but significant stimulus for our construction sector. We’ll make sure that every opportunity possible is open to our local contractors. We’ll also invest strategically, to support
Pembrokeshire’s future economy. Whether that be to ensure that by 2022 Pembrokeshire is the best digitally connected rural county in the country or through direct intervention to repurpose our town centres in Haverfordwest and Pembroke.
We’ll continue our close work with industry and partners to secure the next generation of Industrial activity on the Haven Waterway.
The £60m Pembroke Dock Marine project is, hopefully, the start of a whole new, green, focus and we’ll continue to provide every support we can to ensure skilled engineering jobs remain at the heart of our economy.
Finally, we’ll do all we can to support the recovery of our tourism industry be that through; ensuring we’re as ready as we can be for what’s left of the 2020 season, reopening our key facilities and rolling out our visitor welcome teams; through supporting a big impact marketing campaign for 2021 or preparing for the long term future of Pembrokeshire as a destination, pressing ahead with proposals for an independent, trade led, destination management organisation ensuring a single, powerful voice, to drive tourism in Pembrokeshire.
There’s no pretending the coming months are going to be anything other than extraordinarily tough- the economic consequences of lockdown are in many ways just as scary as the virus – but Pembrokeshire Council exists to serve the people of this County and right now our job is clear – we need to support the recovery of Pembrokeshire's economy, in every way we can.