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)
I would like to share a costly, unfortunate and negative experience to avoid anybody else being caught.
Having moved in to Toban in August I engaged a roofing contractor to reroof my garage and refurbish it.
He more or less completed the roofing work, took a substantial advance for the dry lining and then disappeared for a month, returned and walked off site having refused to refund the advance monies.
Colin - Toban
Check out this OCC site for advice and guidance on selecting local businesses.
We have been informed by the Police today that person(s?) are knocking on resident’s doors, claiming to be from this practice and offering Covid vaccines appointments for a fee. THIS IS A SCAM. Should this happen to you, or you hear about this please report this to the Police.
Dr Russ, GP Partner. White Horse Medical Practice.
This week sees the NHS embark on its largest ever immunisation programme as COVID-19 vaccinations start in 50 hub hospitals across England – this started 8th December.
The Churchill Hospital at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust has been selected as one of the hubs to roll out the vaccination programme in the initial wave, with the first vaccinations taking place on Tuesday 8th December. This hub will serve residents across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and West Berkshire in the first instance.
The vaccine will be given first to those people from each county who are either most at risk or need it because of the work they do. In this initial phase, vaccinations will be prioritised for those aged 80 and over, care home workers, and healthcare workers who are at higher risk. The prioritisation has been set nationally by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
We are working closely with our NHS partners and care home providers to ensure that arrangements are in place to start delivering the vaccination programme to care workers as soon as possible.
The advent of a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment in the fight against COVID-19, and the fact that the Churchill Hospital has been chosen as one of the first hubs to deliver the vaccination programme is a matter of immense pride for Oxfordshire.
In the coming weeks, more hospitals will start vaccinating as the programme ramps up. GPs and other primary care staff are also preparing to start delivering vaccinations, with planning underway for a number of vaccination sites in Oxfordshire. Vaccination centres treating large numbers of people in sporting venues and conference centres will subsequently stand up across the country when further supplies of vaccine come on stream.
We look forward to seeing Oxfordshire residents being vaccinated through the priority groups, starting in 2020 and continuing throughout the first few months of 2021, and we will continue to update you as this major programme progresses.
CEO Oxfordshire County Council
We are fairly newly arrived at Toban, And there will be removers lorries unloading outside on Holloway on 15th September ( about 2 hours) and on/around 1st October (most of the day) hope it doesn’t inconvenience anybody!
Also, had a really intensive strimming day to get garden more under control- apologies for any undue noise.
Colin and Anne
Please see below the latest update's on the COVID response and recovery locally. I want to flag special attention to the first item. I am sure you are aware of the increase in cases in Swindon so we need to stay very vigilant.
The below statement has been issued by OCC, and while it is not meant to cause alarm, we need to highlight the importance of following the guidance to stop the spread of the virus as restrictions are relaxed. Can I ask parish councils and support groups ensure that the importance of following the handwashing information and guidance around symptoms and isolation are sent round or published on community and parish pages where possible to help us stop the spread.
There are early signs of rising COVID-19 cases in Oxfordshire. This is to be expected as we ease out of lockdown, and it is consistent with what is occurring across other parts of the country. Oxfordshire County Council Public Health Surveillance Unit has picked this up at an early stage.
There are clear systems in place through our Local Outbreak Plans to manage any local hotspots. However, prevention is by far the best way to manage the situation, and the public has a vital role to play in preventing local outbreaks. So please do encourage your constituents to continue to follow these simple steps to keep safe and stop the virus spreading:
Oxfordshire County Council will be working closely with our district, city and NHS partners to issue general and targeted communications urging people to follow government guidelines and take preventative measures. We would be very grateful if you would help reinforce these #stopthespread messages.
Further information is available at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stopthespread. The website includes a weekly update of confirmed cases in Oxfordshire, broken down by district.
Food and drink businesses looking for a way to increase the number of customers who can use their services safely have been offered the opportunity to place tables, chairs and other furniture on the pavements outside their premises thanks to a new pavement licence. More information is on the Government’s website
Firms will need to apply for a pavement licence – which costs £100 - via the dedicated pages on our websites (South) (Vale)
Our Licensing team will be carrying out a very quick turnaround on this process - we are required to determine applications within 14 days of receiving them, this includes a 7-day consultation period.
How we are tackling the issue of littering and local clean ups
Recently, we’ve had a number of people saying they’ve noticed an increase in the amount of litter in our districts. We don’t currently have any figures to say whether or not there has been an increase, but as litter is a concern for people at the moment, we thought it would be helpful to explain what we’re doing on this subject.
During lockdown, we temporarily stopped loaning out our litter picking kit to local voluntary groups. We’re hoping to resume this service soon and are currently reviewing procedures to make sure all the equipment can be properly cleaned and meet the necessary standards each time it is issued to volunteer groups.
We’ve been calling residents on our shielded list in the past few weeks to find out what support they think they’ll need when the shielding restrictions are eased from this weekend. The good news is that on the whole, people have been telling us that they are ready and willing to begin supporting themselves.
The community hub contact details are 01235 422600 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Lines are open Mondays to Fridays, 9am-5pm.
If you’d like more information on the changes to guidance for shielded residents, see the Government’s website.
Every household must check their details
From 3 August we will begin sending yellow letters to every home in our districts. The 'Canvass Communication Form' requires residents to check and confirm the details of everyone over the age of 16 that lives in their property.
This is something we need to do each year by law in order to ensure the electoral register is up to date.
In previous years everyone received the same letter and had to respond accordingly, however this year the process has changed slightly as there are different letters depending on individual circumstances.
The general message to all local residents is: When you receive your letter, if you need to make a change to your registration information, please respond as soon as possible by visiting housholdresponse.com/southandvale – you will need the two-part code on the yellow letter to do this. Doing this will make sure the process runs smoothly and there will be no need for additional contact, which is particularly important at the moment.
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.
It has been some time since I have sent out an update, thankfully this has been due to things calming down.
I am pleased to attach a “Thank you” note from David Johnston MP, I would be grateful if you can pass this on to all in the support network that have been helping over the last >100 days.
With lockdown being eased across the country, we should stay vigilant. A lot of work is now being put into how to deal with any isolated outbreaks or deal with any “second wave”.
People are urged to not use play areas until they have passed safety checks and have signs to say they are safe to use again – please do not enter any play areas which are closed.
Important information about staying safe in our play areas
Once a play area is open, visitors will be urged to stay safe by following a few simple instructions which are being introduced to reduce the risk of people transmitting COVID-19.
People are asked to:
Leisure centres update
As things stand, indoor gyms and swimming pools must remain closed and we are still waiting for the government to confirm the timetable for them to reopen. In the meantime, we are continuing to work on potential reopening plans to ensure we are ready once we’ve been given the go-ahead.
Over the coming days we will be placing new signs around our public toilets to remind people to maintain social distancing and to wash their hands. Our 'Stay Safe, Give Space' message will also be stencilled at key locations in our car parks, parks and mobile home parks.
You’ll find the signage designs attached to this email should you wish to use them around your own facilities.
As ever, any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Best wishes, and stay safe
Cllr Simon Howell
More information here.
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