This week the Prime Minister announced some changes to the lockdown restrictions which came into force on Wednesday (13 May). The Government has produced some FAQs on what people can and cannot do to help them understand the changes. Although the infection rate is coming down, the virus has not gone away and we all still have a responsibility to keep each other safe.
In line with the Government’s guidance, most of our staff are continuing to work at home and can be contacted by email or on their usual phone numbers.
Thank you for all that you continue to do to support and keep your communities safe at this time. Please do share information from this latest update with residents and groups in your area.
Grants for village halls
We have ascertained that village halls not owned by a parish or town council are eligible for existing business grant support payments available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. Village halls qualify as they are classed as ‘public halls’. We are now working on contacting eligible village halls and making payments as quickly as possible.
To qualify for the money, village hall organisations need to provide us with their bank details and confirm that the ratepayer is not the town or parish council. Unfortunately, the rules do not allow us to pay these grants to town and parish councils.
Village halls can register on our website here.
Please share this information with the relevant village hall organisation/s in your parish or town and encourage them to register.
Guidance on social distancing in outdoor spaces
The Government has issued new guidance on what people can and cannot do outdoors following the easing of lockdown restrictions this week. You can find the advice here.
Guidance has also been issued to help owners of parks and public spaces help people to follow the rules on social distancing. You will find it here.
The guidance makes clear that play areas should still remain closed.
Update on council services
Contact Centres – these remain closed for face-to-face queries but we are still available on the phone or by email. We are reviewing this in light of the Government’s announcement this week and are making preparations to reopen when the time is right.
Public toilets – these remain closed but we are making preparations to reopen them with social distancing rules in place. We hope to make an announcement next week.
Play areas – these remain closed but our parks are open.
Recycling issues – we are starting to see used tissues and disposable gloves, masks etc appear in the recycling we are collecting from households. These items should not be put in with recycling as they create an infection risk for the workers at the sorting facility and may also mean we are unable to recycle whole loads of recycling.
Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) – these are run by Worcestershire County Council. Some opened this week but with restrictions. There have been some complaints from residents that the HRC at Droitwich is not yet open. Worcestershire County Council is working on a plan to reopen the remaining four HRCs in the near future but have set no date yet.
A full list of affected services is available at www.wychavon.gov.uk/
Planning and development management
The Government has announced a series of measures that have implications for our planning team. They include
- Allowing builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council, such as staggering builders’ arrival times, easing pressure on public transport
- Allowing local councils and developers to publicise planning applications through social media instead of having to rely on posters and leaflets, helping to unblock the service
|Read the full announcement.|
The Government has also published updated advice on the following:
- Community Infrastructure Levy
- New time-limited permitted development rights
- Validation of applications
- Determination timescales
- Publicity and consultation for planning applications
- Virtual planning committees
- Local Plans
- Neighbourhood Plans
- Compulsory purchase
- Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
Covid-19 Memory Bank Project
The Covid-19 outbreak is undoubtedly a significant moment in human history. We are keen to capture information about what happened locally to inform future generations. That is why we have launched the Covid-19 Memory Bank and we’d like your help to promote it.
People are encouraged to send in messages of goodwill they have received from neighbours, rainbow pictures they have drawn, messages of thanks they have left for key workers, diary entries the may have made during lockdown, video blogs, pictures, video footage, poems, songs or artwork.
The subject can be anything from how people felt during this time to the way the community pulled together, the weekly clap for our carers event, response of key workers on the frontline and the challenges or joys of home schooling.
The information received will be used in a future art project or exhibition and then handed over to the archive at The Hive or locally for preservation.
You can find out more about the project and people can upload their contributions at www.wychavon.gov.uk/memorybank
Here 2 Help update
As of 12 May, the Here 2 Help service had received 2,504 requests for help. 385 of these were from Wychavon. Help with accessing food and medicines makes up most requests but unsurprisingly poverty is now becoming an issue that is appearing more and more.
The number of requests are going down, again as expected seven weeks into a lockdown situation, but the complexity of cases is increasing.
A new campaign is planned for Volunteer Week in early June to raise awareness of the fact Here 2 Help can offer support with more mundane tasks, such as gardening or walking the dog, as well as crisis response.
If you are aware of anyone who is vulnerable and in need, please make sure they fill in the form or call the number on the Worcestershire Here 2 Help website.
Other updates in brief
- We have paid out support payments totaling more than £25.7million to more than 2,200 businesses. Businesses can find out they are eligible and apply on our Business Rates Reliefs page,
- Visit our Support for community groups and charities page for the latest sources of funding support available to community groups and charities affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
- Worcestershire County Council’s libraries still aren’t allowed to open but you can download e-books and audio books for free.
- The Government has also given some advice that people should use face coverings (not medical masks but a scarf or homemade fabric covering) when on public transport or in some shops or other enclosed public spaces. Read the advice on how to make a fabric face covering at home. Read the guidance on when and who should wear a face covering.
And finally …..
Keep up to date with all our public messaging by following our social media accounts or checking the coronavirus update page on our website.
If have any concerns or need specific support related to the Covid-19 outbreak you can contact email@example.com or ring 01386 565168.