We know Vale are now pushing more and more information out through the comms system, but we just wanted to keep you updated with anything that you may have missed, or not yet been sent. An important update below for residents that the Brown Bin Garden Waste service is suspended.
Winter Support Grant Scheme
We have launched a new grant scheme to help residents affected by the pandemic buy food and keep their homes warm this winter.
We have been working closely with Oxfordshire County Council, City and the other districts on this Winter Support Grant following the allocation £1.4million of government funding to Oxfordshire. Following discussions, the county council allocated around £1M of that funding to providing free school meals. The rest has been distributed across the districts in the county with our share being £150,000 (South £76,006 and Vale £73,430).
Our local information and advice centres, Citizens Advice South and Vale and Wantage Independent Advice Centre will be distributing the funding to those in need, on behalf of the Council. The advice centres can support people with supermarket vouchers for food and fuel vouchers to top up prepayment meters or with paying a heating bill. This will be alongside their usual package of advice and support around budget management, debt and benefit advice and any other assistance the resident may need signposting towards.
If a resident has received a food voucher from a previous scheme, they can still apply for a Winter Support Grant.
We are in the process of contacting community groups to make them aware of this support and information, which will also be going out on our social media platforms. We urge anyone in need of support to contact their local advice centre.
This funding must be spent by 31 March 2021.
Garden Waste Collections (Brown Bin)
Cabinet member for Environment Cllr Catherine Webber released a statement on the suspension of the brown bin service which can be found here: https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/a-letter-to-garden-waste-customers-in-the-vale/
Collections were due to happen across the Western Vale from Monday onwards, but as of yet we have not heard if and when these collections will resume. Many residents have contacted us asking about Christmas Tree disposal or refunds on a service they are paying for as an addition to thier council tax bills. We will be seeking clarity from the Cabinet Member on their plans for restarting this service, and asking if residents will see some sort of refund going forward.
Updates will follow as soon as we hear more.
Covid-19 response councillor grant scheme
The Covid-19 councillor grant scheme remains open for applications. With the new highly transmissible strain of the virus and the current lockdown bringing additional challenges for our communities we have sent a reminder to the town and parish councils where this funding is still available. Please remember to contact your local councillor for more information.
Business support – Covid-19 grants update
We have just opened the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) for applications, which provides up to £1,800 for any business from the hospitality, accommodation or leisure sectors that remained open during our Tier 2 restrictions between 2 December to 25 December 2020 – but whose trade was severely impacted during that time.
To receive notifications about when these grants become available please subscribe to the South and Vale Business Support newsletter – sign up at svbs.co.uk.
Please continue to encourage businesses to sign up to our South and Vale Business Support mailing list by visiting svbs.co.uk – this is the best way for them to find out as soon as grant funding becomes available locally. They can also receive updates by following the Businesses Support teams Twitter and Facebook accounts.
As mentioned last week, we are still waiting for the government to confirm and provide guidance on the funding available for businesses affected by the recent Tier 4 restrictions and the current national lockdown. We’ll have more details for you as soon as this guidance is available.
We've just awarded £87,000 in grants to 53 pubs in South and 34 in Vale as part of the government's Christmas Support Payment for Wet-Led Pubs. The scheme provides a one-off £1,000 payment to pubs that receive less than 50 per cent of their income from food sales and was made available to help cover the normally busy festive period. The qualifying pubs should all receive their money this week.
Applications for this grant remain open until 31 January 2021 - more details are available at SVBS.co.uk
Covid marshals update
Our Covid Compliance Marshals continue to visit our towns and villages to help support local businesses to operate in a Covid Secure manner and to keep the public safe.
Their role is to engage, explain and encourage businesses and members of the public to adhere to the latest guidelines to help keep everyone safe, including advising on social distancing and wearing masks.
With no essential shops, pubs and restaurants currently closed, the marshals are shifting their focus to takeaways across the districts. They’ll be visiting them, providing advice, and answering questions, and where required handing out posters the takeaways can display to remind customers how to queue and enter the premises safely.
Keeping safe in our play areas
Our play areas currently remain open, however with the virus transmission rate remaining high we know there will be some concern about people spending time there, particularly if a play area is busy or people aren't social distancing.
To help to address these concerns, and to remind people to follow social distancing and hand washing requirements, we've placed the attached sign at the entrances of all our play areas in the Vale.
In our next update to parish councils, we will be including a version that parishes in both districts can print off to use in their own play areas. We’ll also be spreading this message via our social media channels – so please keep an eye out for our posts and share them with your own followers.
Community Centres update
Due to the current lockdown, and following consultation with the relevant members, The Beacon, Cornerstone, and our two new community centres on Great Western Park will remain closed to the public until at least 31 March. This is so we can protect our community food hub, which is currently running from Cornerstone and enable them to be used to support the vaccine or as additional testing centres, if required. We hope to review the situation around Easter.
Useful Websites -
If you have found any which have been useful for yourselves, please let me know and I will include them going forward for others.
As ever, any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch
With best wishes & stay safe,
Simon (Howell) and Elaine (Ware)