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Tim, April 3 2020: This week's Covid-19 CDC Update

Covid-19

If this is the first time you’ve read our blog you may not be aware that every Friday, Donna and I take part in a teleconference with CDC’s Senior Leadership, the Ruling Group Cabinet and the Leaders of the different Political Groups. This week’s update will therefore make more sense if you scroll down and read last week’s first.

CDC’s services are all up and running; the staff moved from less essential areas to keep things going have been embedded and it is felt that working from home is going well. The majority of services are open and operating, but obviously if the present situation persists for a long time some of them may tail off.

A matching exercise to see which further staff moves could be made is about to conclude. Managers are also finalising what people working from home can do because some of them may be caring for children, sick relatives, etc.

Government grants have been received to help local businesses with things like business rate relief. Software is being installed and tested, and local businesses have been written to in the hope that payments can start as soon as is practicably possible.

In terms of critical services, residual waste remains the highest priority but recycling has been made a higher priority than green waste. The addition of extra drivers has allowed all rounds to be out this week and next. It is hoped to catch up on earlier missed rounds. There has sadly been an increase in fly tipping. 

All CDC’s parks remain open so people can take their recommended daily exercise. There is now an Enforcement Team ensuring that premises which should be closed remain closed.

The shielded cohort have been given their first food parcel based on the greatest need, prioritising those who have no other assistance. This is really a ‘safety net’ service, but will continue. Donna and I are aware that not everyone who is in the Shielded Group has received a letter. This is because of difficulties drawing information from different sources. If you believe that you are in this group, please ensure you seek advice from your GP surgery or specialist nurse if you have one.

The WSCC hub is open, taking calls for support and asking CDC for help as necessary. CDC has set up a specific Chichester Area Support Team, again, as a safety net service: if people cannot be matched to a local organisation, they will step in and provide support, seven days a week. West Sussex County Council Hub number is 033 0222 7980.

Moving onto Planning, work is continuing on the Local Plan. There is more information about this in the Planning section of the CDC website. The Applications and Enforcement teams are also continuing to work.

Finally, there have been further high level discussions about the A27 with CDC asking that, assuming the A27 is chosen for consideration, processes are open and transparent for our communities.

As always, please keep safe and get in touch if we may be of any help. Next week's update will be on Thursday, a day early, because of the Easter weekend.

 

Tim, April 1 2020: Advice for Parents from myself and another teacher

Empty Classroom

I began teaching quite a while ago and have the National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership, which is second to the Headship one. It's strange to think that some of my students now have children of their own!

I am also a parent, so when a friend and former colleague shared some advice from a Primary Head in Hastings, I felt it might provide some reassurance for parents if I adapted parts of it and added them to my own thoughts to give a more universal perspective.

In a sentence, my advice is not to get worried, just do what you can. Lots of people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by everything that's happening; these are not normal times, they happened to us quickly and we do not know for how long they will last.

You are not homeschooling, this is distance learning; remember who taught your child to walk, talk, use the toilet, get dressed, etc. and you will realise you have always been your child's primary educator. You are only human so you will struggle to facilitate distance learning and work from home. Prioritise and do what you can - don't try to be a superhero.

All children learn at different rates so don’t worry about your child falling behind. A bit of reading every day will help, as will some writing like keeping a diary, drawing a comic or designing their own app on paper. Costing an online shopping order (without a calculator) could help their maths. Most important of all, make sure your children get some physical exercise everyday - they could count the steps if you go for a walk or see how many steps it takes to get to the shops or the end of the road, maybe..

As I was finalising this post, I spotted this article in the Guardian, "20 learning apps for stir crazy kids."

You are doing enough. You are loving your children and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this: mental health is important.

If you are worried and would appreciate a bit of advice from a seasoned teacher, by all means get in touch. We make no promises, but if we can help we will.

Most of all keep yourself and your children safe.

Val, March 29 2020: Thank You Selsey

Val & her hubbie

Well now, here I am again. Having not done this for a while, but trying to share with you more often, as I promised in my last post: this will be the second one in a week.

I hope my last post was useful with the information on COVID 19 which is so important to us all at this time. My reason for writing this time is to thank each and everyone of you, with the nation praising the NHS, which they so rightly deserve, I thought it was time all of our local heroes got a mention.

While I have been working in the Fruit Basket friends, volunteers and carers have been coming in to get shopping for neighbours and friends who are self isolating - Thank You: -

Finally to all of you who are Self Isolating and staying at home - Thank You. If nothing else during this frightening ordeal Selsey Residents have proved we have the best community which I am so proud to be part of.

Take care everybody and stay safe.

 

Tim, March 27 2020: Covid-19 CDC Update

Covid-19

Every Friday, Donna and I take part in a teleconference with CDC’s Senior Leadership, the Ruling Group Cabinet and the Leaders of the different Political Groups.

The most important message they want us to share is that their website remains the first port of call so please keep using the large button near the top of every page of our website.

Some CDC staff are self-isolating, some have vulnerable family members, so CDC’s focus is on maintaining critical services - in the past week more staff have been transferred and trained. To keep CDC functioning, with many people now working from home, their IT systems have been upgraded to allow up to 300 people remote access at any time.

Next week we should have clarity on new arrangements for Council business. This will help parishes because their councils have also had to pause until the Coronavirus Act 2020, which allows meetings to be virtual, became law. The Monitoring Officer and his Democratic Services Team are working on the ‘legal’ mechanics of this.

At the moment the pinch point is Chichester Contract Services. They are cutting back on less essential services like street-cleaning and their grass-cutting contractor has for now stopped. Thankfully the black bin Residual waste collection is up to date, and all four Green rounds are out. Recycling is more challenging with roughly half of collections being missed. The biggest issue is availability of staff: a number are high risk or living with someone who is so additional loaders have been trained; the problem centres around the availability of drivers  so four agency drivers are being trained.

At the moment CDC is looking at the balance between the Green bin collection and recycling. It's a case of priorities and it may be that recycling has to take priority.

The Chief Executive has regular contact with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Although Planning is not a critical service, she understands he would like it to continue. CDC’s Planning team are therefore doing what they can without site visits, and only one of them has been redeployed. Should a Councillor red card an application it will wait until the new arrangements are in place for the Planning Committee to meet, rather than being decided using delegated powers by Officers.

West Sussex County Council’s hub is now open. If you fall into the Shielded group you will be written to and will be supported directly by the NHS and WSCC, if there is no one else already helping you. You will receive food parcels directly sourced by the Government and your prescriptions will also be delivered.

Other people who feel they need support should contact WSCC who will triage your needs. If there is no local group you can be matched to, West Sussex will get an area team (supported by CDC) to help you. Please only get in touch with WSCC for help if you need it. In places like Selsey, residents are lucky because they have their own Mutual Aid group and every household by now should have received a green card with a phone number to call should help be required. The West Sussex Hub number is 033 0222 7980 - we understand it is hoped to provide weekend cover..

Lastly, an update for you on financial assistance. CDC is administering a fund to help people in difficulty with their Council Tax. Local businesses can get in touch for a grant and also small business rate relief. Eligible businesses should receive a letter but if it doesn't arrive, please check the CDC website. You can apply from there.

We will continue to update you as and when we can. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch and we will see what we can do. Remember to use the big information buttons on this site and keep safe.

 

Val, March 25 2020: Advice from a Friend

Val

Sorry I haven’t done this for a while; at the moment Mick and I are helping to keep The Fruit Basket open: I am in the shop while Mick does deliveries.

I am more in the back of the shop nowadays, getting orders ready and keeping shelves filled.  We know many of you would rather not risk going out so we are handling about 15 to 20 deliveries a day which is increasing.  We are also opening two evenings a week for NHS staff and carers.

There is a lot of different advice doing the rounds on social media, so I asked somebody who knows more than me about public health for their perspective. They directed me to the NHS website which is updated as the situation we are facing changes, and said we should check it regularly and be guided by our own health professionals not those from other countries.

They also reminded me that a balanced diet with adequate fruit and vegetables can help maintain a strong immune system.

They explained that: -

I hope to be able to post again before too long, keep safe.

 

Tim, March 19 2020: Covid-19 CDC Latest
Please share this - it is the latest advice we have from Chichester District Council. As we learn more we will share that too.

Coronavirus – Latest advice, Wednesday 18 March, Time: 16.30

Purpose of the briefing
This briefing is to keep you updated on the evolving situation around Coronavirus (now called Covid-19) and the actions being taken in the district. This information can be shared widely. We are issuing this to all staff, members, parish councils and the Chichester MP.

Who does the information affect?
Residents and visitors to the city
Chichester District Council staff and councillors
Parish councils
Businesses

Latest update
New guidance has been issued by the government and an update about economic measures has been announced. The country is effectively on voluntary lockdown. From this point, when council meetings are referred to, this does not necessarily mean face-to-face and can include virtual meetings.

Council priorities
We have been busy testing our business continuity plans. Our focus is currently on our critical services, which are: 
- Revenues and Benefits
- Community Support
- Housing
- Support to Businesses
- Waste and Recycling Collections

It is our priority to make sure that these services continue to be delivered and so we will be asking staff from other teams to temporarily support these areas. This is so that we can meet additional demand and account for any staff who may become ill with the Coronavirus within these areas. Due to this, a number of other services will not be delivered for the foreseeable future. A full list of these services will be provided within a future briefing.

Council buildings
- The Novium Museum has been closed to the public.
- As things stand, our customer service centre is still open, but we are discouraging people from coming in and instead want them to use online services at www.chichester.gov.uk or if they do not have online access, then to call by phone to 01243 534734.
- The depot is still carrying out MOTs and taxi safety checks.
- Due to Government guidance, this week’s Farmers’ Market has been cancelled.

Support for vulnerable people
West Sussex County Council is the lead for the area’s Vulnerable People’s Plan, but we will be supporting them with this work. West Sussex County Council is creating local hubs for groups through their libraries. Those who want to offer support should email volunteering@westsussex.gov.uk Another option is to contact Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester www.vaac.org.uk  who can provide advice and guidance, and signpost people to volunteers in their area.

While the majority of people genuinely want to help, there are always some who will take advantage of a difficult situation. We want people to be on their guard against those who may offer services around shopping and other support who may not be as genuine as they seem. Our advice would be to only take up offers of help from people you know, or from organisations that you are aware of and ask to check any ID. Please also pass this advice on to others who may be a target for unscrupulous individuals to make sure that we all protect each other during these difficult times.

Issues that are currently being addressed include food poverty, social isolation, financial poverty, ways to prevent fraud against the vulnerable and mental health.

From a housing perspective, we are especially looking at support to rough sleepers and those who find themselves homeless.

More information will follow on this shortly and will be available at www.chichester.gov.uk/cornonavirus.

Support for those who are struggling financially
The Government has announced a number of measures that are in place to support employees, benefit claimants and businesses, which are listed here

The Government has also announced that it will be creating a hardship fund for those who are struggling financially. We are currently waiting for the guidance on this, which we hope will be out this week. As soon as we receive this information we will be communicating this with everyone. The council also has a number of schemes to help residents and businesses. You may find the following links helpful:
- https://www.chichester.gov.uk/counciltaxdiscount
- https://www.chichester.gov.uk/benefitforms#dhp
- https://www.gov.uk/budgeting-help-benefits
- https://www.gov.uk/guidance/universal-credit-advances

We are currently producing a list of support and where people can access it. This will be placed on our website at www.chichester.gov.uk/coronavirus

Support for businesses
The Government has announced a package of support for businesses and we are waiting for further guidance on how this money will be distributed. We are currently pulling together information, including how businesses can access help. Those businesses that are eligible for business rate relief are being contacted.

We are currently producing more information on this. It will be placed on our website at www.chichester.gov.uk/coronavirus .

Waste and Recycling Services
Our services are currently running as normal. If this changes, we will make people aware through our social media sites, website and the media.

We will also be issuing guidance on what people need to do with their waste if they are self-isolating. Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

Council committees
All of our meetings during April have been cancelled, but we are constantly reviewing this situation and will keep you informed.

As a council we have agreed that formal meetings will only take place if absolutely necessary, in accordance with guidance from the Government. We have already cancelled a number of meetings and this will be kept under review.

The Government has announced their intention to relax rules that govern formal meetings and specifically to relax the requirement for members to be physically present during a meeting to be able to vote. However, as yet, the necessary legislation has not been passed. Once the rules have been relaxed we will consider holding virtual meetings and officers are exploring systems that the council could use to facilitate such meetings.

Regular briefings
This is a fast-moving situation and we will do all we can to keep you informed. We will from now on add a time of issue to the top of these documents so you will be aware if the information has been superseded by further announcements.

How residents can help
We live in a generous compassionate district and people are keen to offer support in any way they can. We have seen a rise of groups on social media and in the community looking for ways to help.

Advice:
- panic buying is unhelpful, please encourage people to buy only what they need.
- please do not stockpile items such as toilet roll, this prevents everyone being able to maintain basic hygiene.
- please support your local foodbank if you are able to.
- check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbours, many may not have access to the internet for latest updates.
- if you are unwell, follow Public Health England advice to stay at home to avoid spreading germs.
- please use our online services at www.chichester.gov.uk rather than making the journey to one of our offices. If you don’t have online access, please call 01243 534734 instead.

We are working closely with West Sussex County Council who are co-ordinating volunteering across the district to effectively use the resources available and reach those in need. They are creating local hubs for groups through their libraries. Those who want to offer support should email volunteering@westsussex.gov.uk Another option is to contact Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester www.vaac.org.uk  who can provide advice and guidance, and signpost people to volunteers in their area:
- localised community efforts are appreciated, please encourage groups to look at the advice from Public Health England about staying at home (self-isolation) when offering support.
- if any vulnerable residents are concerned about people knocking on their doors, please remind them they do not have to open the door to anyone if they don’t want to.  
- only take up offers of help from people you know, or from organisations that you are aware of and ask to check any ID.

Health advice
At present the government advice has not changed since Monday 16 March. The latest information is here.

More advice
We will be providing frequently asked questions on our website this week and will let you know as soon as this is ready.

Covid-19


Tim, February 24 2020: Our wet and pleasant land!
I was recently reminded that Nelson Mandella said Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.  I was at my second daughter’s paramedic graduation when it formed part of the closing address. I have had a busy Half Term at school with exam classes nearing completion (the first summer exams are just over 40 school days away) and visits from people considering joining the profession. Teaching is a challenging profession these days but I think most of us would say that it’s worth it.

We have some concerts lined up for when the weather improves and the days get longer. On April 26th we have something special related to St George’s Day. In fact, at a local venue, very soon Ben Thapa and Selsey’s famous Shantymen are getting together to rehearse.

Our team continues to be busy at Selsey Town Council. We were recently asked about this coming year’s Council Tax and we are pleased to say that a 1.1 percent increase on the precept, or 0.77p, Selsey has one of the lowest overall increases in the District and the second lowest of the eleven parishes on the Peninsula.

Donna and I have been speaking out at District. We voted against the Southern Gateway proposal (as you can see in Item 74) because it did nothing to help alleviate the traffic accessing Chichester from our side of the A27, in fact it has the potential to worsen it. We feel this was a wasted opportunity.

We also pressed hard on Item 69, the next Local Plan because of worries about over development with no commensurate infrastructure on the Peninsula; Selsey already has twice the number detailed in the current Local Plan. We are not anti-housing, but we have to be realistic. We also have climate change to factor in. Development has to be appropriate and sustainable.

Another current concern is Committee meeting times (Draft Item 88) as they all start at 09:30 not in the afternoon like Full Council. Employers can find this difficult to accommodate because they often run into the afternoon making it too late to go in. We also voted in favour of an unsuccessful motion (Draft Item 86) to ask the West Sussex Local Authority Pension Fund to divest itself of fossil fuel investments because we can see clearly the effect of climate change on the Peninsula and across our rather soaked green and pleasant land.

If there is anything you would like us to raise, please get in touch with us - you are also welcome to come to meetings, table questions in advance and watch proceedings for yourself.

East St Flood

 

Donna, February 8 2020: Apologies
I realise I've been a bit quiet on the posting front, for which I apologise. Will post more regularly now and let you know what I'm up to. Couple of things happening on Monday and Tuesday. Parks Vision meeting up at CDC. This is a task and finish group to help map out CDC's Vision for the Parks it owns across the District, this includes East Beach. Then, in the evening, it's the All Parishes meeting, again at CDC. This happens a couple of times a year and gets together Parish Representatives from across the Peninsula. It usually discusses specific issues which CDC is working on which affect the entire district; it's a very good way of meeting up with other Parish Councillors to hear about what they're up to and what they consider important.

 

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