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Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s response to Coronavirus – Update

Published on Tuesday, 9th June 2020

An update from the Leader, Cllr Julie Jackson, Brent Davis – Executive Director – Operations and Simone Hines – Executive Director – Resources.

We are facing an unprecedented times and a situation that is fast moving and constantly evolving. The safety of the public and our staff, together with providing as much support as we can to residents, remain our top priorities and we are striving to keep key services operational during this on-going COVID-19 crisis.

Keeping our services running

Council staff continue to support local residents and keep essential services running despite the challenges faced during this worrying time. Staff have been re-deployed into different areas to facilitate specific needs as they arise.

Following the latest government advice our Customer Services Centres remain closed. There is a wide range of services available to access online and we continue to provide the same level of service over the phone. Customers who are experiencing difficulties with any services should contact us on

02476 376376 and customer.services@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk

We will keep this under review following any changes in government advice. 

We have successfully run remote council meetings including a Planning Applications Committee meeting and a Cabinet meeting.

Action to protect the most vulnerable

NBBC continues to work in partnership with organisations across Warwickshire to maintain a food distribution hub centre in the Borough and a local helpline to ensure our most vulnerable residents have access to vital supplies. Since distribution started in March, we have made approximately 2430 deliveries of essential food and information packages to those most in need.

If you have been identified as extremely vulnerable, are facing issues related to isolation or have no access to food & support and need help please call 0800 4081447 or NBBC on 02476 376376, visit warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirusvulnerable for more information.

Housing our homeless

As of 3rd June, from 23rd March, when the COVID19 ‘everyone in’ instruction was issued we have placed 93 (predominately single people). This is in addition to those households we already had in temporary accommodation prior to 23rd March. The increase in homelessness is an unprecedented situation, not only here in Nuneaton and Bedworth but across the Country as a whole. Of the 93 accommodated since 23rd March, 55 remain in Temporary Accommodation, in addition to a further 69 households that were already in temporary homelessness accommodation. The Council has 124 Households occupying temporary accommodation as at 3rd June 2020.

The Council has used a number of its empty properties, furnished and fitted out for temporary self- contained accommodation, enabling households with children in particular, to be able to self-isolate should they need to and to also reduce the risk of infection. The Council’s own Homeless Hostels are predominately occupied now by single person households only, and this is an aim that we will continue to endeavour to achieve.

The council is continuing to ‘Direct Match’ Homeless households to available, unallocated and suitable empty properties. This will relieve the pressure on temporary accommodation and help to rehouse permanently those families the council has a full housing duty to under the Homelessness Legislation. To date we have identified 19 households for Direct Matching. A further 8 homeless households, currently in temporary accommodation, are being signed up for their pre-covid allocations.

Following the Government’s announcement about starting to move the Housing Market, we are considering the guidance that has been issued and will determine how best we recommence all other housing allocations in a way that protects both our customers and staff. It is likely that this will not be until after the end of July, in order to comply with the ICMD of 7th May 2020.

If you, or someone you know has nowhere to stay, and are at risk of sleeping rough please contact the council on 02476 376376 for advice. If you spot a rough sleeper please also ring this number.

Housing repairs service

We are continuing to carry out only emergency repairs in tenants’ homes. This includes essential maintenance such as gas safety checks. From week commencing 26 May 2020, we started to carry out some external repairs and external maintenance programmes where it was safe to do so.

Risk assessments are being be carried out to ensure the safety of our employees and tenants in line with the ‘Staying COVID -19 Secure in 2020’ document which was issued by the Health and Safety Executive. The five steps to safer working together are clearly stated within this document.

Now that more guidance has been released we are working with our employees to provide a safe way; through risk assessment and consultation, to resume some internal repairs in early June 2020. This will be a gradual process as we start to get through the back log caused by COVID-19. Residents will be contacted by our repairs team well in advance of any works being carried out.

It continues to be a priority to protect residents and our employees from potential threats of COVID-19. 

Waste management

Our bin collection services are all running as normal. We are seeing an increase in waste presented for collection due to more of our residents being at home, which is causing some additional pressure to service delivery. We are therefore asking our residents to please ensure everything that can be recycled is (please visit nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk/recycleright for the guide to recycling at home), and we also ask that composting at home is utilised where possible; especially if residents are not signed up to the green bin service - Warwickshire County Council offer composter deals with delivery to your door, please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/composting for more information. We also please ask that residents continue to ensure bins are presented by 7am on collection day, as collection times may vary.

Rather than starting the working day at the Council’s Depot, our cleansing operatives are travelling direct to their litter picking routes in order to reduce personnel at the Council’s operational depot, and bin collection operatives are being collected on route where possible.

Judkins Recycling Centre in Nuneaton has reopened and you can book for essential visits here: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/directory-record/320/judkins-recycling-centre-nuneaton

The bulky waste collection service resumed on Monday 18th May, with certain precautions and restrictions in place to ensure the service can be carried out safely. Please visit the website to read the guidance and make a booking.

Parks and open spaces

Our parks and open spaces remain open for public use, as a means of exercise and to support mental wellbeing. However, we must ask that you follow the Government rules to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure that we can continue to keep these areas open.

The latest government guidelines (published 1st June) state:

  • You can leave your home to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation with your household or in groups of up to six people from outside your household
  • Strict social distancing guidelines must still be followed if spending time outdoors with people from outside your household

If using parks & open spaces, you must also follow this guidance:

  • Do not visit a park if you or any member of your household have any symptoms – fever, cough or shortness of breath. Follow NHS guidelines if you do develop any of these symptoms or become unwell
  • If the park looks crowded, do not enter if you cannot safely observe social distancing. You could try visiting the park at different times (earlier/later) and try to use all areas of the park that remain open, so you can maintain an appropriate distance from others
  • Where possible, avoid touching surfaces (such as gates, hand-rails or seating) and your mouth and face. Please follow hand washing advice from Public Health England, including washing your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not use areas of the park that have been closed, such as play areas and outdoor gyms, these are closed for your safety

Sports facilities 

The following council sports facilities within our parks and open spaces are open; they will be available for group use by members of the same household and in line with the new government guidelines, in groups of up to six people, provided you adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.

  • Tennis / Netball courts (excluding those at The Pingles Leisure Centre, which remain closed at this time)
  • Pingles Running Track – bookings only, please visit www.thepinglesstadium.com
  • Basketball courts (within Multi-Use Games Areas)
  • Golf, Foot Golf and Disc Golf courses

Please note that there is currently no equipment provision and users will need to bring their own. 

Litter

Due to the large increase in the numbers of people visiting and spending time in our parks and open spaces, there has been an increase in the amount of litter being left across the Borough. Some litter bins in parks have been over-filled and have subsequently overflowed with rubbish, this has a detrimental effect on the environment and natural wildlife. Additional cleansing resources have been put in place to meet the demand.

We kindly ask visitors to our parks and open spaces not to leave rubbish, bottles, litter or food behind. If a bin is full we kindly ask visitors to take their rubbish home with them and dispose of or recycle it appropriately.

Water Safety

Please do not swim in unauthorised bodies of water such as rivers, pools and lakes. This could put you at risk of diseases, underwater obstructions and the water can be dangerously cold putting you at risk of thermal shock. There is also a risk to others who can lose their lives in attempting a rescue. 

  • People regularly get into difficulties and even experienced swimmers can find themselves quickly getting into trouble
  • The water is usually much colder than people expect – particularly if people move away from the shore or enter deep water
  • There are hidden currents, unexpected obstacles and weeds under the water which people get caught up in and cramp can quickly set in
  • The water is also often unclean and carries a risk of catching waterborne diseases
  • Many of our lakes are also used for fishing, which means there could be fishing line in and around the water

Children and teenagers in particular, who do not realise the dangers, are attracted to such activities. Therefore, we are asking parents to talk to their children to highlight the dangers. Read full press release with guidance here

Grounds Maintenance

In compliance with associated guidelines in managing COVID-19 as well as social distancing measures, from 1 June full delivery of the grounds maintenance operations resumed, including commencing with summer bedding planting.

For those wishing to find out when maintenance operations are due in their area, details can be found on our contractor’s microsite, by following the link below:

https://nuneatonandbedworth.glendalelocal.co.uk/glendale-live

Cemeteries

From 26 May, mourner numbers allowed at burial services were increased to include 6 mourners at the graveside and a further 10 within reasonable distance of 5 meters. All other requirements set in place remain the same in line with updated Government guidelines.

  • Adequate distance should be observed when travelling together to the cemetery.
  • Individuals displaying symptoms should isolate and not attend.
  • Those who are vulnerable or high risk are advised to remain safe however if attending funerals, they should be supported by making other attendees aware.
  • Backfilling of graves can only be carried out by Cemetery operatives and observed at a safe distance as required.

These measures are in place to ensure the safety of families and employees present at a funeral.

Continuing with key projects

Last week, NBBC craned in the modular homes for our new build development site at Pine Tree Road in Bedworth. The development will consist of 6 x 2 bedroom semi-detached houses, as well as 4 x 1 bedroom apartments. All of the properties have been built through our innovative single supplier framework with Ashby and Croft Ltd, a locally based modular building specialist. The development has been built with funding from Homes England, and is scheduled to be completed by early August.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and its key partner in the programme, Warwickshire County Council, continue to look to the future to deliver the Transforming Nuneaton programme.

To deliver change and improvement at the Abbey Street end of Nuneaton Town centre, market-leading urban regeneration company, Queensberry was appointed as development partner during April this year.

The Borough Council is also continuing to work hard on refining its businesses cases for submission to the Future High St and Towns Fund.

Supporting local businesses & suppliers

New Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme

On Monday 1 June 2020, our application process to apply for our Discretionary Grant opened for a fixed time period. It will be open until 5pm on 11 June 2020, in order to allow businesses to complete and upload their supporting evidence.

The government announced that authorities were to be allowed a permitted amount of funding and the amount of funding Nuneaton and Bedworth has been granted is £952,250.

The criteria for the Discretionary Grant can be found in our Discretionary Grant policy on our website along with access to the application form here.

Business Rates, Grants and Council Tax Payments

The Revenue Team is continuing to work hard to get the final applicable grants paid, but to do that, businesses have to complete the required form which can be found at:

www.nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk/business-grant

Please note that in these challenging times if you run your own business, NBBC is working closely with Warwickshire County Council and other partners to offer advice and support to businesses throughout the county.

If you are struggling to pay your Business Rates or your Council Tax payments due to financial reasons, please contact us so we can discuss your options, email:

Recovery.section@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk to discuss payments options.

Sign up now to receive faster updates on your business rates via the NBBC Portal here: www.nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk/view-bills-benefits

Business advice

We have issued advice for businesses of the action they need to take to avoid the growth of Legionella bacteria in their water systems whilst the business is closed, read the article here.

Supporting our Suppliers

We want to reassure you that Nuneaton and Bedworth Council is treating the payment of its suppliers as a critical process.

We recognise that COVID-19 is unprecedented and will have a significant impact on our suppliers of all sizes therefore, if you currently send paper invoices to Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, we ask that you switch to sending invoices electronically. Paper invoices received through the post will of course continue to be processed, but may inevitably take longer.

Please email your invoices to invoices@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk with all necessary supporting documents.  This will help us reduce any delays in processing for payment.

Please note that this mailbox is for invoices only, if your query relates to anything else relating to payment of invoices then please email creditors@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk.

For any other queries, please ensure that you email the correct department – contact details can be found on other pages within our website: www.nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk

Supporting residents and key workers

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

The Benefits Team have been constantly working on a range of changes introduced by the government since April 2020 to help support people who are struggling to pay their rent and their Council Tax.

We have awarded credits to Council Tax Support Customer Accounts and adjusted customers Housing Benefit Claims following the changes to the local Housing Allowance.

We are due to start processing customer claims for Council Tax Support who have had a change to their Working Tax Allowance. Letters will be issued shortly.

In the meantime if you are struggling financially, you can contact the Council-

Benefits.section@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk to discuss claiming assistance 

Sign up now to receive faster updates on your benefits via the NBBC Portal here: www.nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk/view-bills-benefits

Supporting Key Workers

Free parking is still available in the Borough for public sector essential workers via their employers.

Town Centres & Markets

We are currently in consultation with market traders to agree necessary measures to ensure the safe reopening of the markets as soon as possible, taking into account the other safe guarding and social distancing measures which will be implemented in the town centres. Those traders selling essential items will continue to trade.

We are also continuing to support our market traders with the suspension of market rent in the short term to help reduce the financial strain that traders may face.

Non-essential retail stores will be able to open from Monday 15 June in line with the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown measures. 

We are currently working to ensure that safe guarding measures are in place to facilitate the safe reopening of our town centres while supporting the necessity to maintain social distancing. Work is taking place this next week in both Nuneaton and Bedworth town centres to implement the necessary measures in line with guidance from central government. The aim is to create the safest possible trading environment for our community and businesses.

We would ask for your support and understanding in adhering to these precautions to ensure a safe shopping experience to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Staying safe & connected

As well as our social media channels, we have a wealth of information on our website to keep you up to date with service disruptions as well as links to government services and third party advice including advice on domestic abuse, how to avoid scams, ways to look after your mental health, and staying active as well as much more. Follow @NBBCouncil on Twitter & Facebook or visit nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk/coronavirus.

The Museum & Art Gallery continues to find new ways to offer access to cultural experiences with their fantastic digital interactive services. Follow @nuneatonmuseum on Facebook & Instagram or visit nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk/museum.

Government guidance is being updated regularly, to stay up to date with the latest advice please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Stay alert

We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.