Action to reduce traffic and promote active travel, deliver affordable homes and tackle the climate emergency are central to plans to support recovery and renewal amid the challenges of COVID-19.
A report to be considered by the Bath & North East Somerset Council cabinet on Wednesday 22nd July sets out how the council’s Corporate Strategy, agreed in February, will be delivered in the context of coronavirus.
It outlines the progress made so far towards delivering the strategy, the impact the pandemic has had on it and the key issues and challenges it has raised.
It also highlights “good practice” case studies showing how the council has adapted services to meet the needs of residents and businesses during COVID-19.
Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Over recent months our priority has been to protect the most vulnerable and ensure the continuation of key services.
“We’ve also had to react swiftly to respond to the financial impact of COVID-19 to ensure we deliver a balanced budget.
“However, COVID-19 has brought huge changes which we must respond to. It is therefore essential we review how we are going to deliver our strategy and also make sure we build on some of the opportunities presented by the changes that have taken place.”
The Corporate Strategy sets out the aims of the council and its commitments; guides decision-making and spending plans and provides a framework for the delivery of services.
The report says that the overall approach set out in the strategy, particularly the council’s key roles in improving people’s lives and the need for long-term thinking to tackle climate change, have become even more vital.
It identifies key challenges highlighted by the pandemic likely to impact on the strategy’s delivery, including:
- Reducing the area’s dependence on mass tourism and diversifying into a low-carbon green economy.
- Continuing to develop quick and easy online engagement, such as live-streaming council meetings and the introduction of webinars on key topics, while maintaining engagement with people who have limited or no access to digital services.
- Working more closely with residents to ensure the high level of recycling achieved during lockdown continues.
- Progressing plans for Liveable Neighbourhoods to reduce traffic and encourage people to walk and cycle more and developing strategies for Residents Parking Zones and electric vehicle charging.
- Further developing cross- partner collaboration to support residents, building on the success of the Compassionate Communities Hub and working to deliver council houses.
The report highlights the three workstreams the council has established to meet these challenges:
Reopening – ensuring that High Streets, shops, hospitality and services are brought back as quickly and above all as safely as possible.
Renewal – ensuring the council takes up any opportunities created by the ‘new normal’ to address the long-term issues facing the area including tackling the climate emergency, diversifying the economy and delivering more affordable homes.
Resilience – ensuring the council builds on the success of the Compassionate Communities Hub (CCH) and works even more closely with partners, third sector organisations and local volunteers.