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3rd May 2020

COVID-19 update from Wiltshire Council

COVID-19 UPDATE – Sunday 3 May 2020

Good afternoon.

Please see the latest update regarding COVID-19.

Partners working together to target fly-tippers in Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council is increasing its partnership working with Wiltshire Police to conduct roadside checks on people carrying waste in order to disrupt and prosecute fly-tippers. These people are breaking both stay-at-home government guidance and fly-tipping laws.

During March there was no significant change in the number of fly-tipping incidents in Wiltshire, but the first three weeks of April have seen 63 extra incidents, a 30% rise in fly-tipping in the county on April 2019. More than 50% of the reports received are commercial fly-tips, which indicates that rogue traders or a ‘man and van’ are still operating illegally, even during the lockdown.

Our increase in joint working with the police to catch and prosecute fly-tippers is a great example of partnership working and we currently have lots of fly-tips under investigation, including 14 cases that we are following up on and waiting to conduct interviews under caution when the Government reduce the lockdown measures.

Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) across the country remain closed as travelling to them is not considered to be essential travel. However, we continue to monitor the government advice closely and we are looking at ways in which we could safely reopen HRCs at some stage in the future, if the government guidance changes to allow this.

When we do reopen our HRCs, people can expect some significant changes at the sites in order to keep our staff and residents safe, as new social distancing measures would need to be put in place. These new arrangements are likely to include a limit on the number of people and vehicles that can enter a site and a potential reduction in materials types that people can dispose of. However, these plans are yet to be formalised and we will ensure these are communicated to Members and public in good time.

Whilst the HRCs are closed there is no excuse for fly-tipping. People and businesses have a duty of care under the Environmental Protection Act to ensure that they only give their waste to authorised persons, with a waste carriers licence* and can be prosecuted if their waste is fly-tipped because they did not conduct the relevant checks. To prevent waste being fly-tipped businesses and the public need to:

• *Check that the person they are passing waste to is an authorised waste carrier by visiting https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers or calling the Environment Agency on 03708 506506.
• Check that the person who is taking the waste has an upper tier waste carriers license to take waste or scrap metal collectors licence, issued by Wiltshire Council to take any scrap a metal.
• Note the make, model and registration number of any vehicle and a description of the collectors who are taking the waste away.
• Ask for a receipt detailing where the waste is going. This is a legal obligation for businesses, but householders are also advised to request this information. Remember, if they are taking waste for a fee it is classed as commercial waste - it’s illegal for them to use the Household Recycling Centres (HRC) which are currently closed during the pandemic (Ask yourself – where will it be going then?).

Members of the community can report fly tipping online by visiting: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/mywiltshire-online-reporting or calling 0300 456 0100. They can also report waste collectors who they suspect of being unlicensed online by visiting www.wiltshire.gov.uk/mywiltshire-online-reporting or calling 0300 456 0100.


Leisure, library, heritage and arts services update

Despite the temporary closure of their buildings, Wiltshire Council’s leisure, library, heritage and arts services are continuing to support thousands of residents.

The library’s e-service saw more than 4,596 eMagazines checked out in March with another 7,046 in April – the highest monthly figures since the service was introduced in February 2018.

The service’s rhyme time and story videos also continue to be popular with families, with more than 44,000 views so far and counting.

Wiltshire Council’s leisure service’s social media channels have seen a recent 93% increase in page views, while nearly 8,000 residents have accessed the recently created swim, gym, walking sports, ability sports and Healthier Communities activity packs. There has also been more than 10,000 views of specially made fitness videos.

The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has also seen more than 10,000 visits to its Facebook page on the day that free ancestry resources were promoted, keeping residents informed and connected to Wiltshire’s history.

3,650 calls have also been made to the more older and vulnerable members of Active Health, Get Wiltshire Walking, senior leisure centre members and libraries to check they’re ok at this difficult time.

The council has also developed an online Active Communities resource page to support people. The resource page covers a variety of topics, including opportunities for people to be active and exercise, 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 complete list of resources can be found at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-active-communities.


VE Day 2020, Friday 8 May

As mentioned earlier this week, the council has created a special ‘VE Day at home pack’ to help residents of all ages celebrate and mark the 75th anniversary of this historic moment in time.

With social distancing measures still in place, the pack contains simple advice and suggestions to commemorate VE Day on Friday 8 May, which this year is a bank holiday. The pack can be downloaded from the Wiltshire Council website at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-coronavirus and contains something for the whole family; recipe ideas, a World War II/VE Day quiz and wordsearch, suggested e-reading materials from the council’s library service, craft ideas,1940s-inspired games and songs to sing to keep the family entertained.

I hope that you will share this pack and that you, your family, friends and community will find the pack useful to plan your own activities with members of your household.

I hope you have had a very happy and safe weekend.

Regards

Cllr Philip Whitehead

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