Members Coronavirus Response Briefing
Weekly Roundup – 3 April 2020
The way in which we work during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response is changing on a daily basis and within this uncertain climate we continue to monitor the situation and adapt in line with government advice.
This fast paced change has resulted in changes to the way we are now delivering services to our residents and businesses.
We continue to focus on delivering the priority services that are relied upon by residents and businesses whilst keeping our staff safe and healthy.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Management Team continue to review the situation and respond to government advice on a daily basis.
We have continued to reduce the number of staff coming into the office with only 23 essential staff now on site at the civic centre. We’ve been able to do this by using a range of technological solutions. We will continue to look at ways we can reduce the numbers of essential staff travelling to work and this includes amending the operational delivery of services whilst maintaining minimum impact to residents and businesses.
Following the Prime Minister’s instruction that everyone must stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home); Management Team has identified those key members of staff who are essential for the support and delivery of frontline services and are unable to work from home for specific reasons. They will continue to work in the civic centre and the depot as we manage Hambleton District Council’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes key staff from the following service areas:
o Waste and Street Scene
o Taxation and Benefits
o Customer Services
o Business Support
Whilst most people are working from home in the following areas, there is a skeleton cover in the Civic Centre to provide essential support: ICT, Development Management, Design and Maintenance.
Service areas with staff who are able to support other services which are facing resource or capacity issues, are redeploying staff – for example leisure staff are being trained to support the waste crews and planning technical support staff will assist in customer services.
We are working closely with partner organisations to identify vulnerable residents who may need further support and we continue to identify how we can respond to government initiatives to support the most vulnerable members of our communities.
Members should continue not to attend the Civic Centre at the present time. As a reminder, public meetings have already been cancelled or postponed and further updates will continue. Meetings that have been cancelled include:
o April Cabinet and Council
o 30th April Planning Committee – further information will be issued shortly on maintaining decision making on planning applications
o Scrutiny Committee meetings are cancelled until further notice.
For all CV-19 advice for the workplace please visit www.hse.gov.uk
We are now in the process of paying out thousands of business grants in response to the Covid-19 crisis, with more than £11 million pounds worth paid out so far. From Wednesday 25th March, businesses have been able to apply for the grants designed to help and support them during the most challenging of times, with an estimated 2800 businesses eligible. So far, 1687 applications have been received with 58% (976) already processed and almost all of these paid out before the weekend. The team are working hard to get through grant applications as quickly as possible with more grants being paid out every day. We anticipate all grants which are straight forward to process, will be paid out by the end of next week. Those applying can help by making sure they have their business rates reference number handy. This can be found on the demand notice posted out on 12th March and will help the team process applications quicker. More information on business grants can be found on https://www.hambleton.gov.uk/businessgrantfunding
As a reminder from my previous updates, if a business contacts you for advice or with a query please signpost them to the Business and Economy team at: Business.Economy@hambleton.gov.uk where we will respond to them and include them in any future communications
Waste & Street Scene
Eight members of the Waste and Street Scene will be working this weekend to catch up on some of the issues the service has not been able to do during normal working hours. The service has prioritised kerbside collections of household waste, recycling and green waste due to operating with around 17 less staff than normal due to the
pandemic. Tonnages have been up across all waste streams as residents forced to stay at home have been clearing garages and lofts and gardening. This has been compounded by the North Yorkshire County Council run Household Waste and Recycling Sites being closed. The teams have done a tremendous job to stay on top of all the work and residents have been very appreciative that they are still receiving a top class service.
This weekend the teams will be working in pairs to clear fly tipped material, empty dog and litter bins that have had to be left longer than normal and delivering bins to residents who need them. This will help keep the district looking smart and hygienic, as well as discouraging people to litter and fly tip. Not every fly tip will be able to be collected and specialist contractors are being employed to remove hazardous waste, but the work will enable the teams to get back to business as usual more quickly when restrictions on movements are eased.
Leisure and Communities
We have launched a COVID-19 community response fund. The fund will provide micro-grants of up to £500 for local voluntary and community groups and it has been set up to help organisations support those who are most vulnerable, who are shielding or self-isolating, and have no other support networks in place. The grant can be used to:
o Purchase food or other essential household items
o Pay for volunteer transport costs so they can collect and deliver prescriptions
o Pay for telephone or web based befriending services.
Eligible groups must be Hambleton based, not-for-profit, with a constitution and a bank account. All completed applications received will be processed within one week to allow organisations to respond quickly during this crisis. The application form, full criteria and the terms and conditions associated with these grants can be found at www.hambleton.gov.uk
We are seeing some great support from the local community with stickers on bins thanking the team such as the one below in Romanby. This is great to see and we’re happy to help design a version for use in your local community if needed.
The Government has released the local authority meetings regulations. The regulations come into force on 4th April 2020 and provide, amongst other things, for council, cabinet and committee meetings to be held remotely. We are working through the implications of the regulations and will be putting in place arrangements to ensure decision making continues during this emergency period. We will be circulating further information shortly.
Thank you everyone.