Statement from Lucille Thompson, Leader of Winchester City Council
Friday 25 September
"In Winchester City Council’s Local Response Centre we’ve been listening to local people who have been impacted by the virus. People who have lost loved ones, families facing an uncertain future due to employment problems, and those who have really felt the burden of isolation as the weeks continued… it really has not been an easy time for so many of our residents and businesses.
I’ve been reassured by something that we felt was here already – community spirit. Our district benefits from diverse communities, and what we’ve seen in the parishes and city alike shows me that by pulling together we can recover from this and come back stronger than ever. That’s why this year we’re introducing The Mayor of Winchester’s Local Hero Award. If you know someone in your community who deserves recognition for looking after others during lockdown, we want to hear about it!
Some of the practical impacts of the last months have also been positive – our centres and roads were freed from heavy traffic with a demonstrable improvement in air quality as a result. We’re building on this by making changes in line with the Movement Strategy that will see fewer cars in our centres and make walking and cycling in the busy town centres more pleasant. To get to where we are today, all of us have made huge sacrifices to the way we live, and as we look to continue to contain the virus we’re all also still relying on each other.
Thank you all for everything you have done so far."
Saturday 4 July
BACK TO BUSINESS
A message from Cllr Lucille Thompson, Leader of Winchester City Council:
"This weekend will see our district’s centres liven up as more businesses reopen. We’re all keen to support our local economy after such an extended period of closure, and at the city council we’ve been at the forefront of making sure all the measures that can support you when you are out and about are in place.
"But, we still have to take care of ourselves and others, so let’s all respect social distancing to allow all of us to experience our wonderful towns, villages and city centres with confidence. I hope many of you are able to enjoy our places, support our businesses and feel confident in returning.
"It will take a little patience from us all, but knowing our district, it will be well worth it…"
Helping you to support our local economy
Cafés, bars, restaurants and pubs are just some of the businesses that are opening their doors again from tomorrow. You’ll see that we’ve been making some changes to help our local economy to get back on its feet.
- Tables and chairs are being delivered to high streets across the district to give more of us space to enjoy a meal, drink or a chat outside.
- In Winchester we’re temporarily closing Great Minster Street to vehicles from tomorrow at weekends to enable socially distanced trading.
- If you haven’t been out and about yet, you’ll see signs supporting social distancing - and look down for prompts on the ground to help pedestrian flow and queue spacing too.
- The friendly faces of the city council’s Neighbourhood Wardens and Winchester BID Rangers will be on hand to support local people.
Bit nervous? Read through these tips before going out
If you’ve got some concerns about venturing out as our district opens up, here are some tips that might help:
- If an area looks busy, take a turn around one of the local parks or green spaces that are in reach of all our centres and come back a little later.
- You may wish to bring your own hand sanitiser for peace of mind.
- Some parking meters require button pushing – using a pencil or wearing gloves might help you if you are worried - sanitise afterwards if you have any concerns.
- If you’re using the outer ring car parks (thank you, we’re encouraging this as part of our carbon reduction plan) do remember a face covering for travelling on the Park & Ride buses.
- The public toilets are open and there is social distancing guidance to support users.
Friday 24 April
"We know this is a challenging time for everyone across the Winchester district.
The Government has asked us to stay home, except for essential trips, for another three weeks. This lockdown already had a significant impact on how we live and interact and I want to repeat our commitment to be here to support you as the situation continues.
The city council is providing advice, supporting households and businesses, and making sure the essential services keep going. We’re offering all our residents the practical assistance they need over this period - and we expect to continue this beyond the period of greatest social distancing as people find their feet. Our focus is helping those who need it most, and this includes being there for those experiencing unprecedented financial difficulties.
We are all playing an important part in tackling this challenge. I pay special tribute to all of you who are going the extra mile to support those who are most in need. The community spirit that I see everywhere is what will ensure we can emerge from these unsettling times into brighter days."
Thursday 9 April
“I wanted to take the opportunity to share the work the council is doing to support all of those who live and work in our district.
“People must stay at home other than for essential travel in line with the Government’s public health guidance, but we know this is having a significant impact on how we all live and interact. The city council is here providing advice, alongside new and existing services, to offer residents the practical assistance they need over this period and beyond. Our focus is especially on helping those who need it most, and people and businesses experiencing financial difficulties.
“In the last week we have set up a Local Response Centre to support the most vulnerable people in our district working with the county council to provide a support to those in self-isolation or suffering with a critical illness. People who are in need of advice or support can call hantshelp4vulnerable on 0333 370 4000. This is available from 9am to 5pm and the phone lines are operational seven days a week.
“Our fabulous voluntary sector is also here to help and if you or a neighbour just need a hand, you can find details of local organisations who can assist on our website.
“Over this time, we all pay tribute to the selfless dedication of our extraordinary NHS workers. There are other key workers too, who are continuing to serve in order to keep vital services going. I have been touched by the notes residents have sent in to say thank you to those who are delivering frontline services for the city council, including our bin collection teams and those who continue to assist the most vulnerable amongst us.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to all the individuals and groups coming together across our district to support neighbours and those who most need a helping hand through this constantly changing period. This extraordinary caring, community spirit is something we can all be proud of and this is what will see us through together to brighter days.
“The council has dedicated website pages for all current COVID-19 information: www.winchester.gov.uk/covid19 but let me give you some examples of what we are doing.”
- Household waste and recycling collections are running to schedule with around 95,000 collections every week – that’s around 19,000 daily - since the outbreak first led to household isolation. We’ve asked you to help crews by putting your bin early – all the latest information on waste collection service is here: https://www.winchester.gov.uk/covid19/service-changes#waste
- Council Tax support and benefits – our teams are providing support and advice on payment plans to help people concerned about paying their Council Tax. Advice is available on what benefits people may be entitled to.
- Providing accommodation for homeless people – local and known rough sleepers have been offered accommodation and specialised support teams are monitoring the situation daily to ensure any new rough sleepers arriving in Winchester are also safely supported off the streets.
- Business rates relief and grants – 2,700 businesses have been contacted to ensure they are aware of business rate relief and business grant availability. To date (Tues 7 April), the council has received 1100 grant applications, and already distributed £6.07m to 380 business applicants.
- Business e-newsletters distributed to businesses setting out the full range of support available for businesses at this time.
- We have been working with local business support service IncuHive to provide free online mentoring and e-learning for small businesses and home workers dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Visit www.incuhive.co.uk for more information.
- Our Park & Ride service continues but with a reduced timetable to help essential travel for key workers to continue.
- Although we have had to close play parks and pitches in line with national guidance, our parks and open spaces are being maintained to enable residents to benefit from their one hour of exercise. It is essential that the two metre social distancing guidance is followed.
- The council is open for business by phone, email or through online digital services – there is a phone in place at Colebrook Street reception entrance
- We are still carrying essential repairs to our council houses but all routine maintenance has been rescheduled
- We have contacted all our residents in sheltered accommodation to keep them safe and cared for
- Parking – we have provided spaces without charge in Park & Ride car parks and Winchester’s Tower Street car park for NHS workers, police and other key workers so they can access their work as easily as possible.
“Thank you to everybody in our district for your patience and understanding in these difficult times. Winchester City Council is working with all our partners in national government, local health and public sector services, as well as local charitable, faith and voluntary groups, to prepare and respond to the challenges we face.
These are challenging and difficult times but Winchester is a great place to live, work and raise a family and we are a caring community. I know with us all working together this will remain the case.
Our national medical experts have set out a series of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This guidance continues to change in what is clearly a fast moving situation. We are working with partner agencies to assess in detail what this means for people and businesses across the district. Our shared goal is to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our communities, and to support the national plan to tackle the pandemic – taking extra care of the most vulnerable people amongst us.
Our key priorities are as follows:
- We are ramping up our plans to maintain critical frontline services, especially those that may in the coming months face extra demand or additional operational challenges.
- Individuals or groups who are identified as most at risk from COVID-19 will remain a key focus in all we do.
- It is clear that these unprecedented measures being taken to protect our health, are causing extreme uncertainty and pressures for many local businesses, charities and other organisations. We will strive to offer leadership, support and guidance.
- Many communities and individuals are already taking practical action to be ready to help their neighbours and those who may need extra support in the coming months. We will work to enable, coordinate and support this grassroots activity.
Over this extraordinary period, Winchester City Council wants to reassure you that we are committed to working on your behalf, and to represent the needs of everyone who lives and works in our district.”
The latest updates and key public information will be posted here and on social media.
Winchester City Council is working closely with Hampshire County Council, Public Health England, local NHS partners and other agencies and bodies to ensure we are all well prepared as the situation develops.
Our priority is to ensure critical local services to Winchester residents are maintained and that we are signposting people to the most up-to-date official sources of information and advice.
To access the NHS advice click here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
For a wide range of guidance and advice click here: https://www.hants.gov.uk/socialcareandhealth/coronavirus