There is no doubt the country is going through difficult and confusing times with coronavirus still dominating our lives and influencing the way we live and work, writes Powys County Council leader Rosemarie Harris.

Regrettably, the number of cases has risen sharply in Powys in recent days, mirroring the trend seen across the country, with numbers being driven by the more spreadable Delta variant.

The wonderful vaccination programme must take credit for reducing the virus’ grip on communities, the success rate for first and second doses in Powys is outstanding, but we are not free of the virus yet. I would encourage those who have not yet taken up the offer of a vaccine to do so, particularly our young people.

Despite 18 months of Covid, the council has made good progress against its Vision 2025 Corporate Improvement Plan during 2020-21, with the annual performance reported to full council this week.

During the year, our priority was responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we invoked the business continuity plan in March 2020 to enable us to focus on business-critical activities – keeping people safe, stopping the spread of Covid and reaching out to those that needed help the most.

The decision meant most services and some planned activities were either delayed or paused, as d Members and staff focused their efforts on our COVID-19 response.

Overall, we have judged our performance to be ‘Good’ as 68 (77 per cent) of the 88 objectives in place to support Vision 2025 were on track, 15 were mainly on track, two completed, with only one objective highlighted as not on track.

I am pleased with the council’s progress against its Vision 2025. I’m also proud of what we have been able to achieve during 2020-21, building on some weaknesses that we had identified in previous years’ reports.

There is still a great deal of work to do and the challenge for the council is to maintain its excellent performance as it moves into the Covid recovery phase.

It will not be easy; the Council must deliver things very differently and we are asking residents to support us in future-proofing Powys.