Cabinet members have backed plans to recruit specialist officers to advise businesses and members of the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Decision makers in Gwynedd agreed to open the purse strings and spend £113,220 to take on three specialist community engagement officers within the council’s environmental department up until 31 March, 2022.

According to the report, which was approved unanimously on Tuesday, the authority’s public protection department does not possess the staff numbers to carry out such work following a decade of cuts to its budget.

“The lockdown and the period that followed have highlighted a great desire by our residents to ensure that we address public health matters,” it noted.

“The demand has been significantly higher than the resource we have to satisfy it.

“Looking at these matters through the eyes of our residents, the aspiration is not unreasonable. Unfortunately, a decade of financial hardship has meant that we no longer have the resilience resources.

“Consideration will need to be given as to how to close the circle.”

Members were told that the staff would “fill an obvious gap” and be a public face in helping residents and business owners get through the pandemic.

The authority is expecting around £71,000 from the Welsh Government’s Local Authority Hardship Fund to increase Wales-wide enforcement capacity, but has agreed to underwrite the costs regardless of any income that may be recouped.

The three Community Engagement Officers, the report concluded,  would be “a visible presence in communities and towns”, advising and assisting as well as reporting back on any issues that may arise.

“It is intended for them to become familiar faces in our communities, and a direct contact between Public Protection Services (and other Council Departments where practical) and Gwynedd residents and businesses.

“This can then assist the Public Protection Services to focus more on issues that are more complex and contentious in nature.”