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28th May 2020

COVID-19 update from Wiltshire Council

COVID19 update – Wednesday 27 May 2020

Good evening

Firstly, I am very sad to share the news that former councillor Lionel Grundy OBE has sadly passed away.

Many of you will have known Lionel and worked with him over the years, and I’m sure you would agree that we have a lost a great man, a great politician and a great friend.

Lionel worked for more than 30 years in the police before going into local government and he clearly dedicated his life to public service, a decision that had such a positive impact on the many communities he served.

I had the honour of succeeding Lionel as councillor for Urchfont and The Cannings and they were seriously big boots to fill but, as I’m sure he had been for many of you, he was always so supportive and generous with his time.

No matter your political affiliations, Lionel was respected and liked by everyone who knew him.

I’ve spoken to Lionel’s daughter Claire and she’s told me that he will have a private funeral in line with the current COVID-19 restrictions, but a memorial service will be held as soon as that becomes possible. I’m sure there will be many of us who will want to pay our own tributes.

Public Health
• Wiltshire has had 552 confirmed cases of COVID-19 which constitutes 104 cases per 100,000 people (compared to the average national rate of 268 per 100,000). Whilst the current level is very low we expect an increase in confirmed cases as testing is rolled out across the whole population
• Up to week ending 8 May, there were 128 hospital deaths and 129 care home deaths due to COVID, with the majority of deaths in the 80 + age range

Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub
• The Wellbeing Hub has adjusted its opening hours from this week – now operating 8am-6pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday.

Government Update

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister set out a timeline for retail to reopen from Monday 1 June, and further guidance has been published for how to operate safely to protect staff and customers.

Full details of the announcement can be found here: https://bit.ly/RetailTimeline.

Guidance for reopening can be found here: https://bit.ly/UpdatedRetailGuidance

Key details to note:
• Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.
• All other non-essential retail will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.
• Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is hosting a free webinar for retail businesses on Thursday 28 May to make their workplace COVID-19 secure. Anyone wishing to join the webinar can register using the following link https://bit.ly/BEISWebinars.


Business Update

LA administered grant schemes

We are encouraging businesses to complete the existing form on our website, http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/business-advice-support-covid19-grants if they are applying for the existing small business grant or the retail, hospitality and leisure grants.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme launched today
Employers can now make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

This scheme enables small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus related SSP. Employers can make their claim through the new online service and receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

Preventing and controlling the risk of Legionella when re-opening your business
Our Public Protection team has written to over 4,000 local businesses providing advice on how to ensure that their water systems are safe, particularly where they have not been in use for some time if a business has been closed, to prevent future health issues such as Legionella outbreaks.

Businesses that may have any concerns about this guidance can contact publicprotectionwest@wiltshire.gov.uk or view http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/env-health-safety-advice

Reopening High Streets Safely Fund
We have been awarded nearly £450,000 to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas. The money can be used to put in place additional measures to establish a safe trading environment for businesses and customers, particularly in high streets.

We are currently reviewing the guidance.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/887244/Reopening_High_Streets_Safely_Fund_-_Guidance.pdf


Highways Update

Pedestrian crossings
In response to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) new statutory guidance on 9 May 2020; 'Traffic Management Act 2004: network management in response to COVID-19’ , the council is making changes to the timings of its signal controlled pedestrian crossings to reduce the amount of time pedestrians are stood at a crossing, and in turn aid social distancing.

Most pedestrian crossings in Wiltshire currently take up to 30 seconds from the time a pedestrian presses the button on a crossing for the ‘safe to cross’ green man to appear. However, this time is being reduced to a maximum of 15 seconds so pedestrians don’t have to wait so long, particularly in busy places.

These changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks, starting in the larger urban areas, before moving to crossings in villages and other areas. We recognise this may affect traffic flow in certain locations, so we will keep this under review and make changes as necessary.

Road layout changes
The first project to make significant changes to road layouts, to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians, is due to start and be completed in Devizes on Thursday 28 May.

The changes at St John Street and High Street will widen the footway to support pedestrians achieve social distancing and will help to link to The Brittox shopping area.

The proposal, which is subject to a road safety audit, will reduce the length of the existing taxi rank, but it will give more pedestrian space and improve visibility as vehicles approach the zebra crossing, and will be kept under review to ensure the change is working effectively.


Mental Health Training for Volunteers

Wiltshire Council has provided mental health and resilience webinars to volunteers who have been supporting residents during COVID-19.

The council has been in regular contact with community groups throughout this challenging time and it was felt it would be beneficial to offer training to support volunteers’ mental health and give them the tools to look after themselves should they require it.

The first session, organised and delivered by the council’s public health team,
took place last week during Mental Health Awareness Week and was free to take part.

The webinars are delivered virtually and cover a range of topics, including tips for maintaining perspective and managing expectations when volunteering in the community, how to tell when someone needs support, and useful signposting.

There is a range of mental health support and signposting on the Wiltshire Council website, including Every Mind Matters resources. It can be found at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-mental-health

Neighbourhood Plans

Wiltshire Council has the third highest number of ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plans in the country – as a national milestone of 1,000 made local plans has been passed.
Neighbourhood Plans give communities direct power to develop and shape the development and growth of their local area, allowing local people to choose where they want new homes, shops and other developments to be built. This allows people to plan for developments that meet their own community’s needs.
As the local planning authority, Wiltshire Council has 31 ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plans. It has been able to achieve this as the council’s Core Strategy provides strategic policies that help to make it easy to shape Neighbourhood Plans and other planning documents.
Wiltshire Council continues to offer support and guidance to town and parish councils with neighbourhood planning despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation. It is only at the referendum stage of the Neighbourhood Plan process that government has made any firm decision to stop the process.
There are currently five Neighbourhood Plans – Lydiard Millicent NP, North Bradley NP, Market Lavington NP, Seagry Parish NP and Tockenham NP – awaiting a referendum, and these have recently been postponed. However, these Neighbourhood Plans can still be given significant weight in decision making on planning applications in their area, despite the referendums not yet having taken place.
To find out more about Neighbourhood Planning in Wiltshire, please see: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planning-neighbourhood

Fly-tipping campaign

A Wiltshire resident has become the first recipient of a financial reward through the council’s ‘We’re Targeting Fly-tipping’ (WTF) campaign after witnessing an offence of fly-tipping in Purton.

The resident reported the incident via the My Wiltshire app and provided a witness statement to council environmental enforcement officers. The investigation led officers to the fly-tipper, who was issued with a £400 fixed penalty by the enforcement team as a result of his careless and criminal actions. The fixed penalty notice was paid in full by the offender.

The council is committed to cracking down on waste crimes such as fly-tipping, and will pursue all reports with evidence. Fixed penalty notices are a significant tool in combating this illegal activity, and the ‘We’re Targeting Fly-tipping’ campaign continues to raise the awareness that fly-tipping is a criminal offence and the council will work tirelessly to apprehend offenders. The reward scheme linked to this campaign will certainly assist in combatting this illegal activity.

Environmental enforcement officers are investigating several offences of fly-tipping that have occurred in Wiltshire since the lockdown. Formal interviews under caution will be arranged and conducted as soon as it is safe to do so in line with government guidance.

Residents can report fly-tipping at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/mywiltshire-online-reporting or by calling 0300 456 0100.

To find out more about the ‘We’re Targeting Fly-tipping’ campaign and rewards, including terms and conditions, please see www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community-environment-wtf

Regards

Cllr Philip Whitehead

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