Covid-19 recovery at heart of revised plan

Supporting the district's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has been made a key part of Malvern Hills District Council's blueprint for the future.

A revised version of the council's Five Year Plan was approved by the Executive Committee on Tuesday (19 January) and includes several new actions focused on supporting communities and local businesses to rebuild.

On the economy the council has committed to continuing to work with local traders to promote town centres and town centre plans to help them adapt to future changes in customer habits. Supporting delivery of the Worcestershire Covid-19 recovery plan, new apprenticeship and graduate grant programmes, a new Visitor Economy Action Plan to help the tourism sector and lobbying for key infrastructure improvements also feature.

The council is developing a new communities strategy which will build on the strengths of communities highlighted by the pandemic to make them stronger, sustainable, and resilient. Tackling loneliness, supporting those in poverty and revamping the council's youth plan to make sure it meets the needs of the district's young people post Covid-19 are included as new actions as well. Bringing new housing sites forward based on community need, including provision for key workers, and a renewed commitment to tackling rough sleeping have been added to existing actions.

Councillors have also pledged to lobby for several active travel schemes across the district to support a green recovery from the pandemic and the council's carbon reduction aims.

The committee also approved a new five year business plan which sets out the financial challenges against which the council will deliver the actions in the Five Year Plan.

The council needs to save another £500,000 by 2026, on top of more than £6million already saved from the budget since 2010, with less than one per cent coming from reductions to frontline services. The council intends to continue to make savings through efficiency savings, working with other councils and growing its income but the report warns 'difficult decisions' are ahead. The pandemic has so far cost the council about £1.4million and there are future uncertainties including the speed of the economic recovery and future government decisions on local government funding.

Cllr Sarah Rouse, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: "Recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, when it is eventually over, will be the absolute priority for this council. Our revised Five Year Plan reflects that and how we will work with partners to support our businesses, our communities and our residents to come back even stronger than before. Importantly, the plan also maintains our existing commitments on the environment and climate change."

Cllr Peter Whatley, Portfolio Holder for Resources on Malvern Hills District Council, said: "Our priorities are ambitious, but will deliver an even better quality of life for all our residents. Every item will, of course, be rigorously scrutinised for the value for money it represents and must be affordable within our agreed budget." 

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