Wiltshire Council COVID-19 Update - 14th May 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday, the Government has issued a raft of new guidance and advice on its website https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus, some of which can be read by clicking the following links here and in the Business Support section below:

 The reopening of schools and other education settings from 1 June

Guidance for safety of passengers using transport network

Public advice to cover face in enclosed spaces

Guidance on spending time outdoors

Cabinet Meeting – Tuesday, 19 May, 2020

Cabinet will hold its first virtual MS Teams meeting on 19 May which will include a formal update on the council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A public link to view the meeting should you wish is available in the agenda.  

Business Support Update

Business grant fund schemes

Central Government published guidance to local authorities on administering the discretionary fund to support small businesses yesterday evening. We expect confirmation as to how much funding has been allocated to us in the coming days. We are aiming to issue details of eligibility and how to apply for this funding next week.

 In terms of the two initial grant schemes, we are continuing to process the applications and contact those businesses that have not yet applied for their grant. As of close of play today we have paid out over £78million to support 6,500 local businesses.

Furlough scheme extended until October

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended by a further four months and will now remain open until the end of October 2020.

Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of the current salary, up to £2,500 and this will continue until the end of July. From the start of August, furloughed staff will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed employees. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

More specific details around the implementation will be published by the end of May 2020.

Online claims service to support the self-employed now live

The online claims service for those self-employed people who may be eligible for government support through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme went live yesterday morning.

This scheme will enable the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment.

Guidance to get safely back to work

The government has published practical guidance to make workplaces as safe as possible and to give people confidence to go back to work.

This guidance also covers eight workplace settings that are allowed to be open and helps employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during coronavirus.

Construction and other outdoor work https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/construction-and-other-outdoor-work

Household Recycling Centres Update

All of Wiltshire’s household recycling centres (HRCs), bar Stanton St Quintin, will reopen on Monday 18 May with an easy to use postcode entry system to system to help limit the number of people on site at any time and ensure social distancing. We have kept Stanton St Quintin HRC closed as the number of car parking spaces has been significantly reduced. This, along with the already difficult traffic management issues at the site, means that we cannot safely open the site at this time without the risk of significant queues on the B4122 road, which is also close to the M4 J17 slip road. This will be kept under review and the site will reopen when the traffic management risks can be effectively managed. We recognise that this will be frustrating for local residents.

People who would usually use Stanton St Quintin should travel to an alternative site such as Purton, Melksham or Lower Compton.

People will only be allowed entry to visit Wiltshire’s HRCs on the days that correspond to the first part of their postcode. For example, if their postcode starts in BA12, they can only visit the sites on Monday 18 May, Wednesday 20 May, and so on, as detailed in the table attached. People can visit any Wiltshire site they choose, so while they are limited by the days they can attend, they can visit any Wiltshire HRC on these days. Residents are reminded to check the opening times before setting off as all of the sites have different opening times. People should also bring proof of address in order to use the household recycling centre.

More information about HRC opening times, details on the types of waste that can be taken, FAQs, and the restrictions being put in place to protect our customers and staff is available on our website  www.wiltshire.gov.uk/household-recycling-centres

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre – COVID-19 request

People are being asked to share their stories and experiences of living in lockdown to help Wiltshire Council create a new archive.

The council’s Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre wants to make a collection that reflects people’s individual and collective experiences during lockdown for future generations to study.

The Wiltshire and Swindon Archive at the history centre in Chippenham holds nationally and internationally important documents charting over 800 years of the county’s history, its people, places and events. As well as official records it holds personal documents – letters, diaries, sketchbooks and scrapbooks, photos, artwork and more. With a few exceptions all are freely accessible to the public, when the centre is open, with archivists and community history advisors on hand to help people explore and discover their heritage.

The history centre wants to create a new collection that will show how lives have been transformed by this global crisis. The centre wants people to think about what future generations might want or need to know about 2020, COVID-19 and living in lockdown. The record of experiences might be written – a diary or poetry – but could also be drawn, photographed, painted or crafted. This is an opportunity to make a creative response to challenging times.

People are also asked to keep hold of items such as leaflets, official communications, posters, flyers – which can also be added to the centre’s local studies collections.

For more information about how to get involved with the Living in Lockdown project, people should visit the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre website at www.wshc.eu.

This is part of Wiltshire Council’s Active Communities resources to support people during this difficult time. The resource page covers a variety of topics, including the various library services available online – rhyme times, story times, e-books/magazines, resources on getting creative through mediums like song, dance, art and literature and opportunities to explore Wiltshire’s history.

The Active Communities online resources can be found at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-active-communities.

Other matters: 

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from Monday 18 May, and the theme for this year is Kindness. We know there are a lot of incredibly kind acts happening within our communities who are responding to local needs, particularly at the moment. We would love to hear about any inspiring acts of kindness that you have experienced in recent weeks #KindnessMatters.

If you, or any member of your community, would like to thank someone for their kindness, please share the story and thanks in a maximum of 200 words by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and attach a photo with a completed consent form if you are happy for this to be put in our newsletters, Twitter and Facebook and we will share as many as possible.

Salisbury Cathedral Community Project

Last week Salisbury Cathedral launched a special 2020 community project, inviting people to take part in the virtual premiere of The Salisbury Anthem, an online ‘concert’ marking the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Cathedral.  

The Salisbury Anthem is a song for a place, our place and the Cathedral wants it to ring out across a virtual space that defies any lockdown, crosses borders and reaches into hundreds of homes, at home and abroad.

Based on a poem written in praise of the Cathedral as it was being built, the anthem will be led by the Cathedral choir with the support of a huge chorus of voices singing the refrain and that’s the bit the Cathedral want people to join in with.  No-one needs to worry if they aren’t the best singer in the world, autotune is a wonderful invention! 

Please share information about the project with your communities.  Further details about how to get involved and instructions on what to do on can be found on the Cathedral webpage:  https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/salisbury-anthem-instructions. Please note that the Cathedral needs all contributions to be in by Sunday 17 May, so residents are encouraged to get singing!   

Regards

Cllr Philip Whitehead

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