COVID-19 UPDATE – Thursday 2 July 2020
Chief Executive appointment
Terence Herbert has now been appointed as the Chief Executive of Wiltshire Council.This follows a period of consultation on a proposed change to the Tier 1 structure at the council which sees a reduction from two Chief Executive Officers to a single Chief Executive leading the council.
Members of the Officer Appointments Committee panel approved Terence’s appointment when they met on 26 June. They also approved an application for voluntary redundancy from Alistair Cunningham. Terence has now taken up his role and will be working with myself and cabinet to shape the organisation moving forwards and lead the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes to Cabinet and Portfolio Holders
I have made changes to the council’s Cabinet and Portfolio Holders to align with the recovery structure now being put in place within Wiltshire Council following COVID-19. The changes, which came in from yesterday (1 July), will see Cllr Allison Bucknell step down from her Cabinet position and take up a new Portfolio Holder role for Communities, Arts, Heritage and Tourism. This will reduce the number of Cabinet members from nine to eight, and the number of Portfolio Holders has also been reduced from 14 to 10.
You can view the changes on our website http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/articles/cabinet-changes
Public urged to act responsibly ahead of pubs reopening
We have joined forces with Wiltshire Police to remind residents to play their part and act responsibly when pubs reopen this weekend.
At the end of June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that pubs, restaurants, and hotels could reopen from 4 July.Several other businesses will also be allowed to reopen, such as barbers, hair salons and cinemas.
Whilst this is a positive step forward in revitalising the economy and showing that Wiltshire is open for business, it is important the public continue to take extra precautions to stop coronavirus from spreading and ensure they act responsibly at this time as anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.
As the licensing authority we have an important role in ensuring pubs and restaurants are opening with the right conditions in place and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
To help with the reopening, the government will also relax the two metre social distancing rule, replacing it with ‘one metre plus’ in situations where keeping two metres apart is not possible.
This means people can maintain one metre apart, as long as other measures are put in place to limit the transmission of the virus.
These include wearing a face mask or covering, installing plastic screens, and providing extra handwashing facilities.
Government guidance update – shielding programme
The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding, taking into account that COVID-19 infection rates have decreased significantly over the last few weeks. This guidance remains advisory.
From Friday 6 July:
- People who are shielding no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of their household.
- People who are shielding will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to six people they do not live with, while maintaining social distancing.
- People who are shielding can create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance.
- From Saturday 1 August, the government is advising people to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means people may wish to go out to more places and see more people but they should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household or support bubble.
From 1 August:
- Those shielding can visit shops, places of worship and outdoor spaces.
- People shielding will be able to return to work if they cannot work at home as long as the business is COVID-safe.
- Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers.
More detailed guidance will be provided as the changes in advice come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.
Those in receipt of central government provided food boxes and medicine deliveries will continue to receive this support until the end of July if required. Anyone requiring this assistance should register online or call 0800 028 8327 before 17 July.
Business Update – Local Discretionary Grant
The application window for the Local Discretionary Grant closed at 5.00pm on Monday 22 June.
The council received 736 applications and has sent out its first grants totalling circa £1 million to local businesses with further grants being issued this week.
The council has received confirmation of £227,000 funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) to progress the first five road reallocation schemes in the county.
The five schemes, in Salisbury, Bradford on Avon, Purton, Trowbridge, and Chippenham, are based on existing bus routes and will link the city and town centres with homes and places of work to make it easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to access shops, businesses and places of work without driving or using public transport.
Full details of the five projects are as follows:
1. Salisbury cycleways to link Harnham to the city centre, allowing cyclists easy access to the city. The scheme will see one southbound lane on Brown Street turned into a cycleway and the removal of on-street parking on Exeter Street to create a cycleway on the street while maintaining two-way traffic.
2. A segregated cycleway and footway on the B3108 between Winsley and Bradford on Avon, allowing easy access between the two, and giving cyclists the option of a traffic-free ride from Winsley, into Bradford on Avon and then on to Bath along the Kennet and Avon Canal.
3. On the A420 in Chippenham, a segregated cycleway linking Bumpers Farm to the town centre, giving cyclists easy access to the centre of the town.
4. The removal of through traffic on Hook Street in Purton, which runs parallel with the A3102 between Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon. This will install a 3.5km route for cyclists and walkers, linking Purton with Swindon's Lydiard Park.
5. A segregated cycleway on the A361 Hilperton Road in Trowbridge, from near the fire station into advisory cycle lanes from Stancomb Avenue to Hilperton Road roundabout, of more than 1km in total.
Work is due to start in the next four weeks on these schemes, and the council will have more to announce on the next round of funding, and other major cycling and walking projects, soon.
Re-opening of children’s play areas operated by Wiltshire Council
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 June regarding the reduction of restrictions to public movement, the council will be reopening the 59 play areas it operates from 4 July.
The council will be erecting signage onsite to advise the public of social distancing, hygiene and safety rules and will be monitoring use of play areas when they reopen. Council officers may re-close any play area where it is considered not possible to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection and will respond to further guidance issued by the government in respect of their use.
For all town and parish council’s looking at the reopening of play areas, please find links to the governments’ updated guidance on managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms and safety in outdoor spaces. to assist in your own decision making.
Library service update
The council is seeking the views of residents and library users to help with its planning for reopening library services safely in the county during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A four-week public consultation is now underway. Hard copies will be made available at County Hall, Trowbridge; Monkton Park, Chippenham; and Bourne Hill, Salisbury. The consultation closes on 26 July 2020.
Chippenham Minor Injury Unit to re-open for booked appointments
The Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at Chippenham Community Hospital will start to receive referrals from NHS 111 from Monday 6 July 2020. Chippenham MIU will have appointments available from Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm for patients who have rung NHS 111 and are referred to be seen in the MIU. Chippenham MIU closed in April after a decline in the number of patients attending since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Staff employed at the units were redeployed to help look after patients across the local health and care system.
The MIU will not be open to ‘walk in’ patients and there will be no x-ray facility on site. This temporary change in service has been designed to maintain the safety of patients and staff. Patients will not be able to directly book an appointment. NHS 111 will continue to triage all appointments and if a patient meets the criteria they will be referred to the unit and a member of staff will call them back to arrange an appointment. Anyone with a life threatening condition should call 999.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should not attend any medical setting unless explicitly directed to do so by the NHS 111 service or a 999 call operator.
Minor Injury Units offer a facility for treating injuries that are not serious, such as sprains and strains; minor burns and scalds, wound infections, insect and animal bites, and minor injuries to the eye, head. They are not specifically equipped to treat more serious conditions.
Cllr Philip Whitehead