Press Releases week beginning 22 June 2020
This week's headlines
Council preparing for more lockdown easing and re-opening from 4 July
Following the prime minister's announcement this week that lockdown measures will be further eased from next month, Hastings Borough Council is continuing to support businesses, work towards the safe opening of more its own facilities, while urging its residents and visitors to stay safe.
Although much can re-open from 4 July, businesses can only do so if 'COVID Secure'. Throughout the phased easing of lockdown with more and more re-opening, the council has been supporting businesses, who have been working really hard to follow the new guidelines, and make sure they are operating safely. The council are here to help the businesses who can open in this new phase of easing. As part of this the council has further updated and improved the information and resources available on its website since the announcement and will continue to do so as new guidance is produced by the government.
Council leader Kim Forward said,
"As lockdown continues to ease, we must ensure that this happens safely here in Hastings, so we are urging residents and visitors to continue to take care. Our town's new full capacity is not yet what our pre-COVID-19 full capacity was. We will have to get use to things being done differently.
"While we support and help businesses to re-open, we are also working to put safety measures in place for our own facilities that will be allowed to open from 4 July, such as the West Hill Lift. These facilities will be opened as soon as we are sure they are 'COVID Secure' because the safety and well-being of residents remains at the heart of all our decisions.
"The council, like businesses, faces practical issues with the re-opening of facilities around cleaning regimes, social distancing, contactless payments and risk assessments. The 2m rule still applies. It is only where 2m is not possible that it is 'one metre plus', the plus being 'plus mitigations', such as masks and gloves, or protective screens, which involves procurement, stock and distribution challenges.
"Alongside managing the re-opening of our own facilities, and assisting businesses to do so as well, we are also still managing our response to COVID-19 and working with partners on the community hub. In addition, we are working with other councils and the Sussex Resilience Forum to prepare and plan for a potential second wave of the pandemic."
Town cautiously ready for visitors as council urges buy local
Hastings Borough Council is backing the buy local campaign and encouraging residents to buy locally to help Hastings' businesses begin to thrive again.
The council is cautiously welcoming visitors to the borough once again, providing they respect the town, and follow government guidance and social distancing.
Cllr Kim Forward, leader of the council, said
"We have been supporting the town's businesses through this pandemic by providing advice and support to them about how to operate safely in line with government guidelines and with help around re-opening. Since April we have paid out nearly £20m in grants to over 1700 small and retail, leisure and hospitality businesses.
"Now our high streets are open again, our businesses - who do so much to make this town what it is - need our support to help them recover from flourish again. We are wholeheartedly backing the buy local campaign.
"With even more businesses being able to open from the 4 July, the council is here to give advice and support to businesses who need it and to help ensure guidelines are being met.
"Our priority throughout this pandemic has been keeping residents safe and supporting businesses. We now feel we can cautiously welcome visitors back to our town and we expect everyone, whether they are people who live here or visitors, to follow social distancing and respect the guidelines we have put in place to ensure their safety.
"Our community has come together over the last few months to support each another and to work to keep us all as safe as possible and we know that we've had a relatively low infection rate since the pandemic started. We want this to continue so that our town stays safe and we do everything we can to ensure we don't have a spike in COVID-19 cases.
"Businesses are working really hard to follow the new guidelines and make sure they are operating safely, and this is very challenging for them. Our town's new full capacity will not yet be what our pre-COVID-19 full capacity was.
"Please shop local and support our town making sure to stay safe and keep social distancing whilst doing so."
John Bownas, manager of Hastings BID said,
"Every pound that gets spent locally rather than online makes a huge difference. You don't have to spend any more money than you would have otherwise, just take the time to spend it at a shop in town. The local economy will rebound much faster if we stop cash bleeding out through online shopping. Just £10 each per week spent this way amounts to £20m a year that stays in the town. So do your bit and buy local."
Kevin Boorman, manager of 1066 Country Marketing, the local private/public sector tourism marketing partnership, added,
"We are delighted to be able to welcome visitors again, whilst stressing that it still isn't business as usual. We are asking visitors to respect, protect, and enjoy. Respect our local communities, any specific guidelines our partners have put in place, and respect our wildlife; protect yourself and others, by taking sensible precautions, and protect the environment and the landscape; and enjoy getting off the beaten track, if everyone heads to the same hotspot it is impossible to stay socially distanced.
"The last thing any of us want is a return to full lockdown, so please bear with us, and our attractions and accommodation providers, as we work together to make your visit safe and enjoyable."
Public toilets vandalised a week after reopening
Last weekend, 5 public toilets owned by Hastings Borough Council were vandalised, just a few days after reopening them to the public.
The vandalism included extensive graffiti and damage pipework, cisterns and toilet pans which has led to some facilities needing to be closed again for repairs.
Cllr Paul Barnett, lead councillor for urban environment and community safety, said,
"We recently opened as many public toilet facilities as we felt we were able to manage safely. Unfortunately, over the weekend, half of the toilets that we opened were either vandalised or misused, with some now needing significant repair work.
"If you have any information about who was responsible for any of this damage, please let us know."
Cllr Kim Forward, leader of the council said,
"We understand how important it was for residents to have these facilities reopened again so it is incredibly disappointing to see them being damaged. We know most people have been patient and respectful of the facilities and guidelines, and we thank you for doing so. However, the actions of a few have been completely unacceptable and have now resulted in us having to take limited resource away from essential work to fix and clean up the facilities.
"Please respect our town and the safety measures we have put in place to make sure we keep our infection rate down."
Foreshore Trust announces funding for organisations focused on COVID-19 response
The Foreshore Trust has announced the projects that will be funded from the latest round of its small and events grant programme.
Round 3 of the Foreshore Trust small and events grant programme, launched in April 2020, and had a focus on projects responding to COVID-19.
This round was highly oversubscribed with 50 applications received from a variety of organisations proposing projects including services responding to the current pandemic, socially distanced events and services supporting individuals and groups in need.
Rather than wait until the next meeting of the charity committee on July 13, special 'urgency' rules have been used to agree and distribute the money to the successful projects as quickly as possible.
The amount of funding given totals over £45,000.
Councillor Margi O'Callaghan, new Chair of the Charity Committee said,
"COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our communities, which is why the Foreshore Trust and Charity Committee adapted the programme to prioritise projects that were helping respond to the effects of the pandemic and want to push this funding through as soon as possible.
"Eleven projects were approved. A wide range of worthy causes were awarded grants in this round of funding, and it was great to be able to allocate this funding so quickly in the exceptional circumstances.
"Some of these programmes include:
- A programme which offers professional counselling for social care workers
- A music mentoring project for young people
- A virtual café for carers
- Small necessities, a programme which provides starter packs of kitchen utensils and personal hygiene necessities to previously homeless or resettled families and individuals.
"All the approved projects are to be delivered between June 2020 and March 2021.
"We are looking forward to seeing our funding used to support these projects which are so important to our community."
For further information on the Foreshore Trust please go to: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my-community/foreshoretrust/whattheydo/
Council begins planning for Buckshole Reservoir improvement works
Hastings Borough Council will be undertaking major safety improvements of Buckshole Reservoir in Alexandra Park next year to meet current reservoir safety standards.
As part of the preparatory work, engineers will be working at the site on the 29 and 30 June assessing the ground conditions.
The council's consultant reservoir engineers, Stillwater Associates, will be on site to ensure all operations are undertaken safely.
The works involve widening and strengthening the concrete spillway, the channel that takes water out of the reservoir in the event of an emergency.
Next year's works will also include replacing the valve that enables the lowering of the water level in the reservoir. This proposal will require planning approval which should be submitted to the planning department later in the summer.
Cllr Maya Evans, lead councillor for natural environment and leisure, said,
"It is essential for us to carry out these works to ensure the reservoir is maintained to a high safety standard. Part of the works will require us to temporarily lower the reservoir levels by 60cm a few days before hand. However, this work should not interfere with people enjoying Alexandra Park. The angling clubs have been informed."
Batteries cause waste collection truck fires
Common household batteries caused two separate truck fires in East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership contracted waste collection vehicles, both in Wealden, after sparks ignited the surrounding rubbish. In one incident, a mobile phone battery exploded and caught fire. Thankfully no-one was hurt in either event, but there was significant service disruption to refuse and recycling collections.
Batteries and small electrical items of any kind pose a fire risk if placed in amongst rubbish and recycling. The risk is much higher in hot weather. To help us prevent future fires, please place them in a separate bag on top of either your rubbish or recycling bin for collection. If you can remove batteries from items first please do so. Please take any larger electrical items which don't fit into a carrier bag to a Household Waste and Recycling Site.
Our crews were very lucky this time and avoided serious injury. With your help, we can continue to keep both you and our refuse workers safe, and our services running to schedule. Thank you.