THE positive community response to the Covid-19 pandemic in East Ayrshire has been hailed at a council event, which reflected on the hardy performance of local officials in continuing the good work.

The seventh annual Joint Engagement event focused on the pandemic and the unprecedented challenges that communities have faced, as well as highlighting developments in the area, such as an improvement in school attainment rates and a 25 per cent reduction in crimes, including shoplifting and housebreakings.

The impact of the pandemic on families, who had already been struggling; the need for a continued partnership focus on work to address child poverty; and the wider inequalities in our society formed a significant part of the event.

Depute Provost Sally Cogley, event chair, said: “The annual Joint Engagement event is an invaluable opportunity for elected members, officers from the council and our community planning partners to join together and really look at the issues that face our communities and to recognise the importance of partnership working.

“We are under no illusions about the continuing impact of the pandemic in our communities and we will continue to direct the full range of our partnership resources to address these challenges in future – the child poverty data and future projections that we heard today were particularly stark.

“We will redouble our efforts to work in partnership to address these challenges in our future renewal and recovery work.”

Some encouraging results from partnership working were flagged up at the event including an increase in average gross weekly earnings by two per cent, superfast broadband in 96 per cent of homes and the formal sign off of the Ayrshire Growth Deal in November 2020.

It was also noted that the number of fire related casualties and fatalities reduced by 20 per cent.