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5th October 2020

COVID-19 update from Wiltshire Council

Please find below the latest update from Wiltshire Council regarding COVID-19 and other matters.

The government’s COVID-19 data is updated daily and specific information on Wiltshire is available here: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/Wiltshire.

Whilst, the COVID-19 infection rate in Wiltshire and the South West remains low compared to other regions, the council is working hard with its partners to encourage residents and businesses to continue their efforts to follow government guidance on prevention (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus), and sign up to the new NHS App which is the best and fastest way to check if they are at risk from coronavirus. The app is a vital tool to help the NHS understand where and how quickly the virus is spreading, so it can respond quickly and effectively.

The NHS app is available to download for free in England and Wales, and has a number of tools to protect individuals, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in.

For further information about the app and how to download it please click here: https://covid19.nhs.uk. Please encourage your communities to use it.

COVID-19 - what has changed?

The government recently announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus, which are likely to remain in place until March 2021. To read the announcement in full:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-what-has-changed.


COVID-19 - public health resource tool kit

A tool kit with a range of resources to use in the community has been sent to town and parish councils today. Please use these to promote key preventative health messages to keep transmissions of COVID-19 under control in Wiltshire.


Schools update

Precautionary COVID-19 measures taken at four educational settings in Wiltshire

Following advice from public health professionals, Larkrise School in Trowbridge, Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, Dilton Marsh C of E Primary School near Westbury, and Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Trowbridge Campus are taking precautionary COVID-19 measures due to an individual positive case confirmed at each of their settings. These measures ensure the risk of any transmission within the settings is kept as low as possible.

At Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, one pupil in Year 10 has tested positive for COVID-19, and while all precautionary and proper bubble measures have been followed, the school has agreed to take additional precautions with advice from public health professionals and ask all Year 10, a total of 277 pupils, to self-isolate until 30 September.

At Dilton Marsh Primary School, the Headteacher has tested positive for COVID-19. Close contacts have been identified and by taking precautionary measures, 24 children from different year groups are self-isolating until 2 October. Eight members of staff are also self-isolating. The school had temporarily closed to all pupils but following conversations with Wiltshire Council and Public Health England, all pupils who have not been identified as close contacts of the Headteacher will now start to return from 25 September on a staggered basis.

At Larkrise School in Trowbridge one pupil has tested positive for COVID-19. In following the correct precautionary measures, 10 pupils and 10 members of staff are self-isolating until 5 October.

At Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Trowbridge campus, one student has tested positive for COVID-19. In following the correct precautionary measures, the College has asked 24 students to self-isolate until 5 October.

We understand these precautionary measures can be disruptive for the schools, colleges, pupils, students and their families, but it’s vital we keep the virus under control in Wiltshire, and we thank everyone involved for their support with this.

The government’s letter to parents and guardians on booking coronavirus tests for their children is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-parents-and-guardians-when-you-should-book-a-coronavirus-test-for-your-child.


COVID-19 Business update

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

From Thursday 1 October, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has changed and employers now need to fund 20% of furloughed employees’ usual wages for the hours they do not work, as well as continuing to pay their National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions. This means the government will only pay 60% of wages, up to a cap of £1,875, for the hours the employee is on furlough.

This scheme comes to an end on 31 October 2020.

Further information is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

Government's Winter Economy Plan
This plan outlines a package of targeted measures to support businesses and jobs through the winter.

The measures include:
• support for businesses to bring employees back to work and save jobs with a new Job Support Scheme which will be introduced from 1 November 2020. Employees will need to work a minimum of 33% of their usual hours and for the hours not worked, the employer and the government will each pay one third of the employee’s usual pay
• extending the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to April 2021
• help for the hospitality and tourism sectors through a continuation of the reduction in VAT (5%) to end of March 2021
• support for businesses’ finances and cashflow through an extension to the application period to 30 November 2020 for four government-backed loans schemes – Bounce Back Loan Schemes, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Future Fund
• changes to the terms of repayment for Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans so businesses can repay their loan over a period of up to ten years
• new payment scheme to ease the burden of paying deferred VAT by giving businesses the option to spread their payments in 11 equal instalments over the 2021-2022 financial year
• more time to pay Self-Assessment tax liabilities

To read the Winter Economy Plan in full: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/winter-economy-plan/winter-economy-plan.

Financial support for low-income residents who have to self-isolate

We know that when people are told to self-isolate this can increase financial pressures at an already difficult time.

A £500 payment will shortly be available for people in Wiltshire required to self-isolate, if they are working and on a low income and will lose money because they cannot work from home.
To receive this payment, a person must:
• have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace after Monday, 28 September 2020
and have a unique Test and Trace number provided by the NHS
• be employed or self-employed
• have lost income by being unable to work from home while self-isolating

be receiving at least one of the following benefits:
• Universal Credit
• Pension Credit
• Housing Benefit
• Income Support
• income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
• income-based Employment Support Allowance
• Working Tax Credit

The council is in the process of developing a system to allow people to claim for this payment as quickly and easily as possible.

People who are eligible for this payment will be able to make a backdated claim to 28 September.

The system will be live soon and we will update you when it is.


Other Matters:


MyWilts launch update

The council launched its new MyWilts platform last week, which replaced MyWiltshire.

It provides greater functionality to allow for future developments, so the council can add more services.

This will make it simpler, quicker and easier for Wiltshire residents to access and enable council services digitally, 24 hours a day seven days a week. 

Residents can book, report and apply for Wiltshire Council services, such as reporting fly tipping and potholes in one place and keep track of their cases in their MyWilts account.

The new system can be access via the web here: https://my.wiltshire.gov.uk/.

For more information please visit our webpage or watch the video series created to support residents in using the system.


Flu vaccinations

A record 30 million people are being offered the free flu vaccination this year.

The flu vaccine is given to people who:
• are 65 and over (including those who'll be 65 by 31 March 2021)
• have certain health conditions
• are pregnant
• are in a long-stay residential care
• receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
• live with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
• frontline health or social care workers
It’s more important than ever for people to get their vaccination, to help protect the nation from the double threat of flu and COVID-19 this winter. Please encourage eligible members of your community to get their vaccine.
Further information is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/.

Fostering update

Wiltshire residents thinking of what next for future job opportunities are being asked to consider choosing foster care as their next career move.

September can be the time for change as older children go off to college or new jobs. For younger families a child going to school can mean a significant change.

The council is therefore encouraging people who are thinking about a new direction to make the move to fostering.

We know people consider fostering because they want to make a difference in a child’s life for the better. But we also want them to know they will be properly paid for the work they are doing as we value the amazing impact they can have. This is a paid career and people can foster because they are properly supported.

The council is hoping to recruit 100 foster carers over three years to ensure Wiltshire children can find a loving home in the county with the campaign hashtag #FosterForWiltshire.

To foster, people need to be aged 21 or over and have a spare bedroom. More details are available on the careers website.

People can find out more information by:

• Calling Fostering on 0800 1696321
• Emailing fostering@wiltshire.gov.uk
• Visiting https://fosteringwiltshire.uk/

Melksham Community Campus update
Planning and preparation for the Melksham Community Campus continues, with some minor design changes being made to help improve the overall customer experience and buildability.

The campus will offer a host of top-class facilities under one roof, including a gym, pool, sports hall, a library, café, and meeting space for the community.
While working with the contractor Pelikaan Construction Ltd and their leisure specialist Architects, some changes have been proposed to the council-run project, including reducing the height of the sports and swimming pool halls, removing windows facing residential areas, the addition of a community/party room on the ground floor and addition of a dedicated cycle studio.

These changes are not significant enough to require a new planning application, but a Non-Material Amendment will need to be submitted to the planning department before the changes can be formally confirmed.

Preparatory work will continue for the rest of this year, which will enable construction work to start on-site in early 2021.

More information can be found at Wiltshire Council’s dedicated Melksham Community Campus page at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community-environment-melksham-community-campus


People Friendly Salisbury update

Wiltshire Council has announced the final plans for its People Friendly Salisbury project, which will see pedestrians and cyclists given priority as several streets in the city centre will be restricted for use by through traffic.

Following feedback from residents and businesses, the experimental scheme has been altered, with two areas removed from the plans. The first stage of the scheme will no longer restrict access to the Castle Street entrance of Central Car Park and Chipper Lane; and part of Endless Street will also be removed from the initial scheme.

The scheme will be fully monitored throughout its 18 months, with 47 sensors providing anonymous data on vehicle and pedestrian movements within the Low Traffic Zone (LTZ), on the A36 and at other key points in the city. The sensors are already in place to help establish some baseline levels of traffic flows and other movements, while the main scheme will begin to be installed on 20 October, and be operational from 21 October.

As well as cyclists and pedestrians, some vehicles will be able to access the LTZ; these include: emergency vehicles; buses and coaches; taxis; zone residents; vehicles that are loading and unloading, although vehicles over 7.5t will be excluded between 10am and 4pm; and Blue Badge holders.

Access to the LTZ will be managed by vehicle number plate recognition cameras, and residents and businesses will need to apply for free permits to access the zone.

To apply for a free access permit for the LTZ, residents can go to www.wanttopark.com/Wiltshire before Wednesday 21 October, when the LTZ will come into force. People can also apply after this date and throughout the 18 months of the scheme, but if they want access from Wednesday 21 October onwards, they will need to apply beforehand. Unauthorised vehicles that enter the LTZ will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice.

Thanks to a further £1.3m of funding from Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), we can now develop and deliver an additional range of accompanying measures in the city centre, including new hireable ebikes, bike parking and maintenance stations, more seating and greenery, and improvements for pedestrians – and these will help people to make the choice to walk or cycle easier and more enjoyable.

A further £6m in SWLEP funding has been awarded to the Salisbury River Park project, a joint scheme with the Environment Agency to help reduce the flood risk to various areas in the city and improve leisure and recreational uses, as well as ecology and biodiversity enhancements.

To find out more about People Friendly Salisbury, and to read FAQs, people should see www.wiltshire.gov.uk/salisbury-people-friendly-streets.


Illicit tobacco seized in Salisbury

Officers from Wiltshire Council Trading Standards have seized over 10,000 cigarettes and 4.5kg of hand rolling tobacco following an unannounced inspection at a shop in Salisbury.

The items seized are believed to have been imported into the country using fake brand names and an investigation is underway following the seizure.

As the manufacture of illicit tobacco products is completely unregulated customers have no way of knowing what harmful substances they contain. Previously seized illicit tobacco has been found to include a variety of dangerous chemicals, asbestos and even rat poison; they also often lack the ability to self-extinguish if left unsmoked, posing a fire risk.

Furthermore, as no duty is paid in respect of illicit tobacco its sale is estimated to cost the taxpayer over £2 billion in unpaid tax every year; money which could be used to help fund vital public services like the NHS.

The council takes a zero-tolerance approach to the sale of illicit tobacco in Wiltshire and anyone found selling such items will be brought to account.

Anyone wishing to report illicit tobacco can do so via www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or by calling 0300 999 6999.


Stoptober
This month marks the beginning of Stoptober – the UK’s annual ‘quit smoking’ campaign https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/.
For further advice and local support please visit the council’s website www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-stop-smoking.


Fly tipping award
A Hook resident is the second person in Wiltshire Council’s authority area to benefit from a financial reward as a result of the ‘We’re Targeting Fly Tippers’ campaign.
The resident witnessed the offence taking place outside their home address in Hook, Royal Wootton Bassett in April this year.
A man from Swindon who was issued with the £400 fixed penalty notice was caught fly tipping black bags of waste onto a grass verge after finding that the recycling centre was closed.
Wiltshire Council was first notified of the incident by Wiltshire Police’s Early Resolution Unit, who provided the council with vital early investigation assistance which then led the officers to contact the offender and issue a fixed penalty notice.
Fixed penalty notices are a significant tool in combating this illegal activity and with the introduction of the ‘We’re Targeting Fly-tippers’ campaign, and the successful reward which this witness has received, we hope this will encourage more members of the public to report fly-tipping incidents to us.

Residents can report fly-tipping at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/mywiltshire-online-reporting or by calling 0300 456 0100.

Information about the were targeting fly tipping campaign can be found at: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community-environment-wtf

Wiltshire Black History Month Conference, 20 October 2020
The council has joined forces with Wiltshire Police to mark this year's Black History Month with a free online conference open to the public.
The event is being organised by the staff networks of both organisations; the Wiltshire Ethnic Police Association and our BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) staff network and is co-sponsored by Wiltshire Police and Hydrock Consultants Ltd.
It takes place on Tuesday 20 October from 2pm to 5pm and will feature talks from leading author Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE, Rob Neil OBE, Head of Embedding Culture Change at the Department for Education and Organisational Psychologist John Amaechi OBE, the first British basketball player to have a career in the US National Basketball Association.
Attendees will be able to learn about the history of multiculturalism in the UK, the contributions of black Britons, and how to create a more inclusive work culture and society for everyone.

For further information and to register for the conference please click here: www.wiltshirebme.eventbrite.co.uk.
May I wish you a very enjoyable weekend.

Regards,


Cllr Philip Whitehead

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