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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Statement on council's fresh backing for social distancing measures

* The social distancing measures on Castle Street.

Llangollen's mayor, Austin Cheminais, has issued a personal statement about the unanimous decision by the council at its meeting last night (Tuesday) to reaffirm its support for the temporary measures put in place in the town centre last November to aid social distancing.

This statement, which is the text of what he said during the meeting, says: "Way back in March 2020 Covid had only just arrived. 

"In an article in the Wrexham Leader an ex-County Councillor and Mayor of Llangollen alerted us to the dangers. 

"He described the potential risks posed by the large number of visitors we get in Llangollen, the risks to the vulnerable, the ill and the elderly, the need for everyone to follow the rules and the importance of us socially distancing and lockdown. 

"When reflecting on Government advice he stated that 'To not take note of what people are telling you is just stupidity'. He even went as far as to state, 'If I do catch it I will die.'

"Since March 2020 nothing has changed! We are all still just as vulnerable. The virus has mutated, and newer strains are easier to catch. Social distancing when we are out and about is as important as ever.

"We need to resist becoming complacent or dropping our guard. It’s serious! I have lost friends to Covid and have relatives working in Intensive Care Units, they put themselves at risk and every day they are watching people die!

"In July the Town Council considered the measures that Denbighshire County Council planned to take in response to Covid. 

"Denbighshire developed the plan for reasons of public safety following the pandemic and in accordance with Welsh Government regulations.

"The only part of the document we disagreed with was the use of Centenary Square and the area adjacent to the Town Hall where they wanted place tables and chairs.

"The plan contained a few measures but the temporary widening of the pavements to help with Social Distancing proved to be the most controversial.

"The plan was delayed and delayed because of objections and reviews!

"Throughout the Summer Llangollen residents asked me and other Councillors when something was going to be done to help them socially distance. 

"With the influx of visitors when lockdown was eased some residents told some of us that they didn’t feel safe and were afraid to go out! 

"Many residents complained about there being so many visitors in Town and the lack of any action to address the risks associated with Covid. The mantra being 'when is somebody going to do something?'

"The modifications including bolt-down kerbing weren’t completed till November 2nd, whilst we were in lockdown.

"Apart from some brief respite we have been in Lockdown ever since. During the brief periods when we have been allowed out the response from the Llangollen residents I have spoken to has been largely positive with people feeling more secure and more able to safely socially distance if they wish.

"Unfortunately, the 'bollards' continue to be controversial. As Councillors we have recently received communications from those that want the barriers to be removed and others that want the barriers to stay.

"There have been at least 2 surveys that came up with different results. Both sides have argued the legitimacy of their particular point of view. We have even received emails from people who live in other parts of the UK who have a view on the bollards.

"All the discussion that has taken place recently has been within the bubble of Social Media.  

"I believe that to only rely upon Facebook and other Social Media platforms to seek the view of those who live in the Town disenfranchises the majority of Llangollen residents who don’t use the internet to communicate. 

"Unfortunately, because of current restrictions they don’t have a voice other than us and when we have had the opportunity to talk to them I believe they have overwhelmingly been in support of the measures taken.

"The barriers are not permanent, they are a temporary measure to help residents and visitors to Socially Distance.

"My reason for bringing this to the council tonight is that shortly restrictions will be lifted and we will again welcome hundreds and on some days thousands of visitors into our small town with its narrow pavements. 

"We have duty of care to keep residents and visitors safe and although not ideal the Denbighshire plan is trying to do that!

"I believe that it is an appropriate time, in light of the potential lifting of restrictions, for us to let Denbighshire County Council know that we still support the temporary measures put in place to make Llangollen more Covid Secure and I hope that Councillors support me in my Proposal.

"I propose that Llangollen Town Council reaffirms its support for the temporary widening of the pavements and other measures undertaken under the Local Sustainable response to Covid-19 and that the Clerk notify Denbighshire County Council and our County Councillors accordingly."

Cllr Cheminais explained that, according to the Town Clerk's reports, when the social distancing plan as proposed by Denbighshire County Council, came before the town council last July it was "proposed, seconded and resolved to agree to these proposals and that the Town Clerk be instructed to advise the County Council accordingly. Agreed with one abstention.”

* Cllr Cheminais has asked llanblogger to point out that this statement is issued on behalf of himself and not the town council.

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