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

Published on Friday, 10th July 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 time 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

Following the recent lifting of lockdown restrictions NBBC’s customer service centre has put in place an appointment system for residents to see an advisor at Nuneaton Town Hall. Having regard to the governments continued guidance to remain at home wherever possible, the majority of council services can be accessed online or over the phone.

If this is not possible, an appointment can be made Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm by calling 02476 376376. In order that social distancing can be maintained and to limit the number of people within the building, the appointments will be spread throughout the day and limited to essential needs only. To help ensure the safety of staff and customers there is also hand sanitiser available on entry, protective screens and a one way system in place to reduce contact.

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

We continue to successfully run remote council meetings

Action to protect the most vulnerable

If you are in receipt of Government provided food boxes and medicine deliveries, you will continue to receive this support until the end of July.

NBBC and volunteers are also providing support to people who are shielding, to enable them to stay safely in their homes. The government is funding local councils to continue to provide these services to those who need them until the end of July.

What support is available to people who are shielding until the end of July?

Essential supplies

There are a number of ways that those who are shielding can access food and other essentials:

  • Make use of the supermarket priority delivery slots that are available for this group. When a clinically extremely vulnerable person registers online as needing support with food, their data is shared with supermarkets. This means if they make an online order with a supermarket (as both a new or existing customer), they will be eligible for a priority slot.
  • Use the many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers. See list here
  • A free, standardised weekly parcel of food and household essentials. If you have registered for this support online before 17 July you will continue to receive weekly food box deliveries until the end of July.
  • If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, contact your local council to find out what support services are available in their area.
  • For anyone facing financial hardship, the government has made £63 million available to local councils in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials.

If you have the means to pay for food we can help you begin the return to normality by using these services - you won’t need to leave your home. Call the hotline on 0800 408 1447 for help to access Tesco, Iceland or Morrisons.

Please be reassured that we will continue to support those who need help whilst isolated. If you have concerns about getting food, or need any other information and

advice to help you stay safe and healthy, please call the hotline on 0800 408 1447 or NBBC on 02476 376376, visit warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirusvulnerable for more information.

What support will be available after July?

From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable people will continue to have access to priority supermarket delivery slots if you have registered online before 17 July for a priority delivery slot.

NHS Volunteer Responders will also continue to offer support to those who need it, including collecting and delivering food and medicines.

The NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme has been expanded to offer a new Check in and Chat Plus role. This new role has been designed to provide support and companionship to people who are shielding as they adapt to a more normal way of life.

If you are vulnerable or at risk and need help with shopping, medication or other essential supplies, please call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm). 

Government is committed to supporting local councils and voluntary sector organisations to respond to those who have specific support needs and requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details of the support and advice available.

The updated shielding guidance should not affect any social care or support you were receiving prior to the start of shielding. 

Individuals should continue to contact their local council if they have any ongoing social care needs.

NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:

  • Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies;
  • A regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks; and
  • Transport to medical appointment.

Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or speak to your health care professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf.

More information on NHS Volunteer Responders.

For a full list of help available for isolated, vulnerable residents in Warwickshire click here

Housing our homeless

Between 23rd March, when the COVID19 ‘everyone in’ instruction was issued, and 2nd July, we have placed 134 households into temporary accommodation (many of which are 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 134 accommodated since 23rd March, 66 remain in Temporary Accommodation, in addition to a further 69 households that were already in temporary homelessness accommodation. The Council had 103 Households occupying temporary accommodation as at 2nd July 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.

Following the suspension of the Allocations Service, 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 permanently rehouse those families the council has a full housing duty to under the Homelessness Legislation. To date we have moved 32 households that were Direct Matched to their new homes. A further 11 homeless households, currently in temporary accommodation, will be direct matched to social housing units in the coming week and will  move to their new home in due course.

The Councils Allocation Service will resume for normal allocations with effect from 1st August. Applicants on NBBCHomes will see adverts start to be uploaded from that date onwards.

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

Last month, we began working with our employees to make sure we could provide a safe service to our residents.  In consultation with our teams, we have undertaken risk assessments so that we can resume internal repairs in the safest possible way. This is a gradual process as we start to get through the back log of non-emergency repairs caused by COVID-19. Residents are being contacted by our repairs team well in advance of any works being carried out.

If however any resident would like to check the progress of their repair they can call our repairs team on 02476 376344 who will be happy to provide them with an update.

It continues to be a priority to protect residents and our employees from potential threats of COVID-19. All our operatives have full PPE and adhere to social distancing wherever practical.

Waste management

Our bin collection services are all running as normal. We have seen an increase in waste presented for collection over the past few months, due to more of our residents being at home. We are 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.

Judkins Recycling Centre in Nuneaton has reopened and you can book for essential visits here. If there are no spaces available for the days/times you need, consider booking in at Lower House Farm Recycling Centre in Atherstone instead - at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/hwrc

The bulky waste collection service is being carried out 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.

Play areas & green gyms

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

This week we began re-opening children’s play areas & green gyms on a phased approach across the Borough, supporting social distancing and Government guidelines. Local community park facilities will be opened first and the gradual opening of other local play areas across the Borough will take place over the coming weeks. The Miners Welfare and Riversley Park play areas will be amongst the last facilities to re-open to support social distancing.

Signage will be placed on playgrounds giving guidance and advice regarding their safe use. Users will be asked to follow Public Health England guidance concerning washing hands and maintaining social distancing on and around the facilities.

Sports facilities 

The following council sports facilities within our parks and open spaces are open for use in line with the government guidelines which can be found here.

  • 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. The date for opening of Leisure facilities has just been announced as July 25th, we will provide more details on this in the coming weeks.

    Litter

    We are continuing to see huge amounts of litter being discarded in our Borough parks and open spaces.

    Additional cleansing resources have been put in place to meet the demand, but we ask visitors to our parks and open spaces not to leave rubbish, bottles, or food behind. If a bin is full people should take their rubbish home with them and dispose of or recycle it appropriately.

    We also want to remind people that although some lockdown restrictions have been eased, the risks from Coronavirus are still there and guidance on social distancing remains that where possible you should ensure you stay at least 2 metres away from people outside of your household or support bubble.

    Water Safety

    We have recently seen incidents of the public swimming dangerously in outdoor lakes and pools, anti-social behaviour and flouting of the social distancing rules.

    Please do not swim in unauthorised bodies of water such as rivers, pools and lakes. As well as the risk of drowning, this behaviour 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

Full delivery of our grounds maintenance operations is now in place. To find out when maintenance operations are due in your area, details can be found on our contractor’s microsite below: 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 month, we craned in the modular homes for our new build development site at Pine Tree Road in Bedworth, which consists of semi-detached houses and apartments 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, the Council is working with our recently appointed development partner “Queensberry”.

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

Supporting local businesses & suppliers

Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme for Businesses

The Council is pleased to announce that payments to businesses are now being made.

This scheme has proven to be popular with 145 applications being received from small businesses within the Borough. This financial support will help businesses to continue to move forward during this difficult period of economic recovery.

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.

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

Town Centres & Markets

Non-essential stores reopened in the town centres on Monday 15 June and both Nuneaton and Bedworth markets are now also open. We have worked hard to ensure that appropriate are in place to facilitate the safe reopening of our town centres. We would ask for your support and understanding in adhering to precautions such as social distancing markers and following direction arrows on pavements to ensure a safe shopping experience and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All car parks, with the exception of Harefield Road Car Park which is still being used to support Covid-19 mobile testing are open. Public toilets are also open.  

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

The new section of the town centres website visitnuneatonandbedworth.co.uk  provides a point of contact for local business to access support and providing details of any trading restrictions for stores.

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 from people not in your household (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

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