I want to devote my Gem column to the Coronavirus emergency which is affecting every aspect of our lives.
I have had hundreds of e-mails from residents in the past few days worried about aspects of this unprecedented situation – whether they are people running small businesses, the self employed or those who have been laid off. My staff and I are working flat out to deal with their problems and make sure everyone gets the help they need.
I want to pay tribute to the many instances of public-spirited and selfless behaviour being shown by so many. I know that hundreds of individuals are helping neighbours and other vulnerable people to get through this.
But there is another side. And that’s the thoughtless and selfish actions of those who ignored the pleas of government and health experts to stay home if at all possible.
Porthcawl was teeming with visitors last weekend. Their actions imperilled the lives of Porthcawl residents. Many were too afraid to go out of their homes to take a walk because there were so many people around.
During the summer, the population of Porthcawl doubles because of those staying in hotels, guest houses and caravans. And that’s before you count in the day trippers. So Porthcawl is especially vulnerable to the transmission of this disease. And health services in Porthcawl will not be able to cope with a raised population.
That’s why Welsh Government has acted to close caravan parks. And it’s also why the Prime Minister announced the lockdown that came into force on Tuesday. Only shops selling food, medicines and other essentials will stay open and people can only leave their homes for very specific purposes.
The government is very aware of the impact these restrictions will have on people’s lives and their jobs. But it is the only way to ensure that thousands of lives can be saved and that the NHS isn’t overwhelmed by huge numbers of sick people at the same time.
I was able to hold a meeting this week with Home Secretary Priti Patel when we had a discussion about what needed to be done to keep people safe.
I am also pleased that BCBC has responded to concerns about the need to have a school hub to serve the Porthcawl area and has set up one at West Park primary School. I want to thank council leader Huw David to whom I was able to speak over the weekend on this matter. He has also engaged constructively with me about the question of other key workers being able to access the childcare they need.
These are difficult times but if everyone works together from councils to MP’s and AM’s, then we can get it right and ensure that as many people as possible survive this epidemic and that at the end we will still have those businesses and services that we all rely on.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org