Vision for County Durham remains a priority
Our resolve to bring more and better jobs into County Durham, connect communities and support people to live long and independent lives has been strengthened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Next week, our Cabinet will discuss the impact of the virus and look at how the local authority is adjusting its approach to assist with the county's economic recovery and ensure long-term goals can still be achieved.
Councillors will be asked to approve a draft of the Council Plan 2020-23, which sets out how we will work towards key aims identified within the Vision for County Durham 2035. The Vision was agreed by the County Durham Partnership last year, after extensive public consultation, and established the following priorities as being most important to residents:
- Creating more and better jobs
- Helping people live long and independent lives
- Assisting communities to be well connected and supportive of each other
To find out more about the Vision, visit the County Durham Partnership website.
More important than ever
In the Council Plan, we recognise that these priorities are more important than ever and sets out how we will achieve them within the context of the pandemic. We look at the response provided so far and how this will change as the country moves into the restoration and recovery stages.
At the same meeting, on Wednesday 16 September, Cabinet will be asked to consider the latest performance report which sets out our progress against the three priorities within the Vision. The report covers a six-month period from the beginning of quarter four 2019/20 to the end of quarter one 2020/21.
Protecting the public
Cabinet will hear about the response of our public health team to protect the public and support the adult and social care system during the crisis.
The continued importance and success of existing projects, such as smoking cessation, breastfeeding support and holiday hunger schemes will also be discussed, along with work to support victims of domestic violence.
Maintaining key services has been a priority for the council throughout the pandemic and councillors will discuss our ongoing commitment to investing in frontline areas. This includes the introduction of 11 new neighbourhood warden roles to help reduce environmental crimes and antisocial behaviour.
Our forward-thinking actions to support residents and businesses in need during the crisis is highlighted in both the Council Plan and the performance report. Assistance continues to be provided to businesses and local communities through a variety of projects, grants and employability schemes. A Covid-19 economic recovery plan has been developed, as well as a pipeline of investment projects to stimulate the economy. Measures have also been put in place and guidance issued to enable the safe reopening of town centres.
Ensuring existing projects remain on track is also a key focus of the Council Plan and will be crucial to the county's long-term economic and social prosperity. This includes work to integrate health and social care, tackle climate change, boost tourism and improve transport links. The importance of supporting inward investment is also emphasised, with strategic employment sites such as Integra 61, Milburngate, Jade Business Park near Seaham and others across the county set to deliver thousands of jobs.
Cllr Simon Henig, our Leader and chair of the County Durham Partnership, said: "The coronavirus pandemic has impacted on our lives to an extent we have never experienced before and has created significant challenges that require all partners to work together. It's vital we continue to act to support our communities and businesses through these difficult times, but it's equally important not to lose sight of our long-term ambitions.
"The priorities set out within the County Durham Vision were determined by our communities and we remain fully committed to making them happen. On behalf of everyone at the council and the County Durham Partnership, I would like to thank residents for following the public health guidance and for supporting one another during the crisis. We are lucky to live in a county with such caring communities and this dedication will help to ensure we recover and prosper in the years ahead."
The County Durham Partnership is made up of public, private and voluntary sector organisations which work together to improve the quality of life for residents of County Durham. Durham Community Action is one of the organisations represented and the charity's executive director, Jo Laverick, is fully committed to the Vision.
She said: "County Durham has a really strong record of partnership working between voluntary sector organisations, and our partners in the Council and NHS.
"The Vision was developed and is shared between all the organisations and groups which provide social, community and support services across the county. Since the start of the pandemic, through lockdown, and now into our first tentative steps towards recovery, the Vision is more important than ever, as it gives us all a shared framework to work with.
"We have all been learning valuable lessons about what's truly important to us and our communities. As ever, our communities have stepped right up to volunteer and provide day to day support and care. Together, across the voluntary and community sector, there is a determination to make sure that, whatever our new normal looks like, our work and our resources are shared to achieve the very best outcomes for the people we work alongside.
"The Vision provides clear and straightforward signposts for developing and adapting to the lessons we have been learning, and to establish new and creative ways of working so we can reach and support people where they live, and help to build up communities again for our future."