COVID-19 UPDATE – Sunday 24 May 2020
Please see the latest COVID-19 update.
Cabinet and Full Council Meeting Update
Following the success of the online Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the next Cabinet meeting in June will also take place online.
An online Full Council meeting will be scheduled for Tuesday 16 June and this will be followed by meetings of the Area Boards to elect Chairs and Vice Chairs.
Further details of the Full Council meeting and elections of committee and Area Board Chairs will be provided in due course.
Reopening of schools
On Friday 22 May I wrote to all headteachers to reassure them that they should not feel compelled to open to all the additional year groups on 1 June. Whilst it is recognised that it is of the upmost importance for children to resume their education, so they can learn and interact with their peers, it is the council’s responsibility to work with schools to ensure that this is done in such a way that we minimise the risks to the school community. The council will support schools in implementing a phased return of pupils and students to manage this situation safely.
You can read the full letter online
Household Recycling Centre Update
We continue to see large volumes of traffic at our household recycling centres (HRCs) with significant queues throughout the day at some locations. However, queues are being well managed by the on-site marshals and regular updates on HRC waiting times are being provided to residents via council social media channels and local media partners.
We continue to review our guidance and postcode tracker during this initial opening phase to ensure that residents can use the HRCs efficiently and safely. A change has been made to the number of vehicle occupants that are permitted on site, although guidance remains that only one person from a vehicle can unload materials. Further changes to the guidance may be made over the following weeks, so people are advised to check the FAQs on the council website for the latest HRC updates before they travel.
Please encourage residents to check that their local HRC is open before visiting as sites are closed on some days.
Wellbeing Hub Update
The Wellbeing Hub continues to work effectively with partners and voluntary organisations to support vulnerable individuals.
Headline figures (to 19 May):
• We have delivered over 1,174 food parcels
• We have made 2,595 home visits
• We have contacted 14,989 people in Wiltshire
• We have received 2,469 emails
• We have received 4,614 calls
The Wellbeing Hub can be accessed by anyone in need by calling the helpline on: 0300 003 4576 or via email .
Please note: The Wellbeing Hub opening times will be changing next week as follows:
Bank holiday Monday: 10am-4pm
From Tuesday 26 May (until further notice): 8am-6pm Mon to Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday to Sunday.
Food Bank Appeal
With some residents left particularly vulnerable by the COVID-19 situation, Wiltshire Council is encouraging people to continue to donate to their local food banks if they can.
Some of the usual locations where people may have previously donated, such as schools and places of faith, are mainly unavailable at this time, but major supermarkets have food bank trolleys in their stores and people are encouraged to buy a couple of extra items to donate if they can.
Some food banks are reporting an upsurge in demand since COVD-19, with some of the likely reasons for this including some people being furloughed and the increased costs associated with whole families being at home for more time than normal.
It is advised that items donated are non-perishable or with a decent amount of time left on the ‘use-by’ date. Among the items people can donate, and perhaps don’t think to, include shower gel, jam, tinned potatoes, instant mash potato, tinned ham, long-life milk, tinned sponge puddings, tinned custard and tinned fruit and vegetables.
The council has a local welfare assistance scheme for households who are struggling without funds, and it has also agreed to help food banks re-stock where they are running out of goods.
A list and more details of Wiltshire’s food banks can be found in the ‘community information’ section of Wiltshire Council’s COVID-19 page at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-coronavirus.
People can also donate money to local charities such as the Wiltshire Community Foundation, they are providing support to food banks via their Wiltshire & Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund. More information on that can be found at https://www.wiltshirecf.org.uk/Coronavirus%20Fund/. Their website can be found at https://www.wiltshirecf.org.uk/
Government Business Support and Initiatives
BEIS working safely webinars
Following on from the Government’s recent publication of workplace guidance, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will be hosting a series of free webinars to help businesses make their workplace COVID-secure. Webinars for a number of different sectors will run from Wednesday 27 May and will run until Tuesday 2 June. Further information can be found by clicking on the following link https://bit.ly/BEISWebinars.
Pick for Britain campaign
As you may have heard in Tuesday’s Downing Street press briefing, the Environment Secretary has launched a new ‘Pick for Britain’ website to address the fact that we are likely to only have about a third of our normal labour force for this year’s harvest.
As such, Britain’s horticultural sector needs to rely on British workers to lend a hand to help bring that harvest home. Opportunities are available across the UK for those seeking a second job, particularly those that are furloughed. Further information on how to find work or advertise job opportunities in Wiltshire can be found by clicking the following link https://bit.ly/Pick4Britain.
Road Safety Campaign
Wiltshire Police has launched a #SlowDownSaveLives road safety campaign to remind road users in the county to drive safely.
From now until early June, Wiltshire Police and forces throughout the UK and are undertaking a national enforcement operation to remind motorists of the importance of travelling within the speed limit. This operation is deliberately timed as the easing of Government travel restrictions has shown an increase in speeding on roads across the country.
Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum (LRF) partners will be supporting this campaign through social media channels. The Wiltshire Police press release can be read here.
Cllr Philip Whitehead