County Councillor Report
by Wendy Pattison
firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel. 07779 983072
And now on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison
[All text and images provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received on 1 August 2020.]
9 Parishes Meeting
A meeting with all nine Longhoughton Division Parish Council Chairmen/Vice Chairmen has been arranged with MP, Anne Marie Trevelyan and will take place on Friday 11th September at 2pm at Brownieside just off the A1.
A697 Crawley View
Work is hoped to take place to repair the the road outside residents’ houses during the second or third week in August.
Potholes on A697 and C82
Road repair work needed on both roads has been reported to Highways Officer, Nigel Brannen.
Business and Planning Act 2020
New legislation called the Business and Planning Act 2020 came into force on 22 July 2020 allowing businesses to apply for a Pavement Licence to place removable furniture on certain highways adjacent to their premises for the purposes of selling/serving and/or consuming food and drink outdoors. These Pavement Licences are a temporary measure brought in under the provisions of Part 1 of the 2020 Act. The intended aim of this new legislation is to support and make it easier for businesses serving food and drink (including – but not limited to – bars, restaurants, and cafes) to survive and bounce-back from the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. As confirmed in the 2020 Act, these temporary measures will remain in force until 30th September 2021.
Northumberland County Council wants to do all it can to safeguard public health while supporting our economic recovery. The Council recognises that current social distancing guidelines will have considerable impact on the capacity of cafes, pubs and restaurants to accommodate customers. The Council also recognises that there may be some existing practices in relation to the placement of furniture on the highway that may not comply with this new legislation. In response to the requirements of the Act the Council has therefore very rapidly developed its own arrangements to enable the timely implementation of the new pavement licensing regime in the county, via a fully digital on-line application process accessed via a portal on the Council’s web page
From 1 August, leisure centres may re-open, close-contact beauty treatments (such as facials) may resume, and casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks may re-open. Indoor performances in theatres and music venues may resume, and wedding receptions of up to 30 people may take place. Pilots will take place, which if successful, will allow fans to return to sports stadia in October.
Work continues on economic recovery both locally within Northumberland and also as part of the wider Regional Covid Recovery Group bringing together partners from local government, health, universities and colleges, police and fire.
The Council has been successful in gaining additional funding to support “quick/ ready” schemes as part of a wider bid submitted from the North East LEP, North of Tyne Combined Authority and North East Combined Authority following a call for proposals from the secretary of state. Projects are now being refined and agreed with government representatives around delivery aimed to be within the next 18 months.
In the last week NCC Director of Public Health Liz Morgan has undertaken a briefing for head teachers in preparation for a fuller reopening of schools in September 2020. Schools have remained engaged in Northumberland throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and NCC are confident that schools are feeling supported at this time in advance of opening. NCC will be continuing to work with our schools throughout the summer in relation to a number of key issues which we are awaiting guidance for including school transport and future arrangements for attending schools.
The majority of payments to businesses for covid-19 grants have now been made with the team paying nearly £90m out to businesses. Grants are now being offered to Ofsted registered childminders and nurseries in Northumberland – further information is available on our online Business Hub web pages. There are a small number of queries outstanding and NCC are working through these as quickly as possible.
Support for Our Care Homes
Thankfully, the number of deaths in care homes continues to reduce and NCC are working with care home providers to provide support in relation to such events such as outbreaks happening. NCC are continuing to contact care home providers regularly offering support and supplies of PPE where they need it.
Registration Services Including Weddings & Civil Ceremonies
NCC registration service is now offering face to face birth registrations and also weddings and civil ceremonies in line with government guidance. The Council are currently undertaking face to face registration activities at Morpeth Town Hall, Fenkle Street, Alnwick and Hexham House. Death registration remains permitted to be a telephone appointment which has been much preferred by families and we are hoping that this will remain in place.
Following the Government’s recent announcement, the County Council are now operating a select and collect service from four County libraries.
The libraries are:
NCC are undertaking a planned phased reopening of the majority of the library services by the end of August 2020 and this will include time limited PC use and browsing in due course.
Further libraries to open in the coming weeks are:
- Seaton Sluice
The Council are undertaking further risk assessments on some of the smaller libraries, some of which are community managed and therefore there are discussions taking place with key partners also to ensure that we can operate facilities safely and in line with social distancing.
All loans will be automatically updated until libraries reopen and fines will not be charged for late returns to residents after 23rd March 2020 and therefore customers should not worry if they have books at home.
Changes to Shielding Guidance
Further advice for shielding residents who are currently receiving food parcels and medicinal supplies provided by the National Shielding Programme have been notified in some cases that these will stop from 1 August.
The County Council will continue to provide support to residents through Northumberland Communities Together and we will ensure that you have full details regarding this as soon as we are able to clarify the recently received guidance outlining the specific changes. If you are aware of anyone or any organisation that needs help and/or support please let the Council know.
Test and Trace
Cases of Covid-19 in the community remain low, as echoed by the ONS surveys (which samples over 100,000 members of the population). The number of people testing positive continues to fall: the percentage of people testing positive falling from a weekly rate of 12.2% on 29 June to 4.8% yesterday.
Where local outbreaks occur, local authorities will now have the power to close outdoor areas, shops and other premises to enable a fast response to local issues as and when they arise.
It is now the case, and has been for some time, that anyone, anywhere in the UK with symptoms can get a test without delay. We are also testing increasing numbers of people who don’t have symptoms but who are at higher risk.
Don’t get caught out – make sure you’re on the electoral register
Residents in Northumberland are being urged to safeguard their vote at election time by sparing just a few minutes of their time to make sure their name is on the electoral register.
All 150,000 householders in Northumberland are being asked to look out for the annual canvass letters from Northumberland County Council which will be dropped through letterboxes over the coming week (July 13).
Residents are requested to follow the guidance and, if changes are needed, make them promptly and online wherever possible.
Young people coming up to voting age, students and recent home movers are less likely to be registered to vote so anyone falling into this category needs to pay particular attention and make sure they are registered correctly.
Kelly Angus who is the Electoral Registration Officer at Northumberland County Council said:
“ To vote in any election your name must be on the electoral register. With elections taking place in Northumberland in May 2021, this is an important opportunity for residents to ensure they have a say on issues that directly affect day-to-day life in Northumberland.
“Apart from voting, there are also other benefits to being on the register including improving credit score ratings which companies look at when you apply for a mobile phone contract, a mortgage or a loan.”
“At every election people lose their right to vote because they don’t realise that to be eligible to vote they have to register – please make sure you are not one of them.”
If you have any queries regarding electoral registration, please ring Northumberland County Council’s elections office on 01670 624811.