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County Councillor Report (Jul 2020)

County Councillor Report

July 2020

by Wendy Pattison – Tel. 07779 983072

And now on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

County Councillor Wendy Pattison Northumberland

[All text and images provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received on 5 July 2020.]

Hedgeley Parish

Public Toilets

The majority of the county’s public toilets that are serviced by the Council are now open. 

Northumberland Local Plan

ADVANCE NOTICE: Northumberland Local Plan Examination: Consultation on additional evidence

Advance notice of a consultation relating to the Northumberland Local Plan, which will take place starting on 13th July 2020.

The Council approved the Local Plan for submission to the Secretary of State in May 2019, and since then, a Public Examination under an independent Inspector has been ongoing.

The reason for this new consultation is that the Inspector requested additional explanatory evidence during the examination hearings, and has now asked the Council to consult on this.

NCC will therefore be inviting the public and stakeholders to comment on the additional

evidence between 13th July and 7th September 2020. NCC will write to you at the start of the consultation when they will provide more details.

If you have any questions about this forthcoming consultation, or the Local Plan process in general, please do not hesitate to contact Rob Murfin, Director of Planning on 01670 625542 or phone NCC planning officers on 01670 623629 or 01670 623631.


Dwelling Review

In late 2019 and early 2020, the Parish Councils of Warkworth, Lesbury, Alnmouth,

Longhoughton, Embleton, Newton by the Sea, Beadnell, North Sunderland, Bamburgh and Holy Island committed to undertake a refresh of dwelling review. Data has been received from the majority of parish councils and is currently being reviewed however it appears there has been a minor change with a trend for a slight increase in holiday homes

Reopening of Our Town Centres & Further Easing of Lockdown

Further to the government’s announcements on changes to shielding for residents and the Prime Minister’s announcement on the easing of lock down measures, the Council is currently reviewing the guidance relating to this as it is significant. There are over 590 pages of guidance which have been issued in June alone therefore Council staff are reviewing these carefully to ensure that NCC can provide advice and support where appropriate, but also where any statutory responsibilities may have are taken into account.

Our town centres have now been successfully reopened for residents and NCC are now working on supporting businesses who may reopen in accordance with the recently issued government guidance to opening certain businesses and venues in England from 4 July 2020.  

NCC are aware that there will be a number of queries from businesses and residents regarding the potential impact of the easing of lock down measures that will be introduced from 4 July 2020 and they will be aiming to obtain some further clarity in relation to each area of the guidance as it continues to be issued over the coming days.

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 2020.  

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 our help and/or support, please let your contact officer know.

Face Masks/Coverings/Buffs

From 15 June 2020, everyone must now wear a face covering on public transport, bus, train, ferry or plane. The rules apply only on public transport – not while waiting – but the rail industry asks people to cover their face as they enter the station.

Some passengers are exempt from the rules including:

  • Children under 11
  • People with disabilities
  • Those with breathing difficulties
  • Anyone travelling with someone who relies on lip reading

Public transport excludes cruise ships, school transport, taxis and private hire vehicles, however, ride sharing company Uber is making face coverings compulsory.

Antibody Testing

The Government’s new national antibody testing programme will provide information on the prevalence of Covid-19 in different regions of the country and help better understand how the disease spreads.  This will work alongside PCR testing which confirms whether or not someone currently has the virus. The programme is led by NHS. 

About antibody tests

Antibody tests are used to detect antibodies to the Covid-19 virus to see if you have previously had the virus. The test works by taking a blood sample and testing for the presence of antibodies to see if you have developed an immune response to the virus.

Antibody tests differ to virus swab (PCR) tests, which test to see if you currently have the virus.

There is no strong evidence yet to suggest that those who have had the virus develop long-lasting immunity which would prevent them from getting the virus again.

Therefore, the value of antibody tests is currently limited to answering the question of whether someone has had the virus or not, and providing data and a greater understanding on the spread of the virus.

What getting an antibody test will tell you

A positive antibody test will tell you whether you’ve previously had the virus that causes Covid-19 and that your body has produced an immune response.

There is no strong evidence yet to suggest that those who have been proven to have had the virus and to have produced antibodies are immune.

If you receive a positive antibody result it does not mean that you’re immune, or that you cannot pass on the virus to others. It also does not mean that you can ignore social distancing measures.

Our understanding of the virus will grow as new scientific evidence and studies emerge. Covid-19 is a new disease, and our understanding of the body’s immune response to it is limited. We do not know, for example, how long an antibody response lasts, whether the antibodies produced are effective in neutralising the virus, or whether having antibodies means a person cannot transmit the virus to others.

In time, as the science develops and our understanding of the disease increases, we will have answers to these questions.

Contact Tracing

NHS Test and Trace commenced on 28 May. Contact tracing is a core component of communicable disease control and for Covid-19 involves identifying and interviewing people with confirmed Covid-19; providing advice and supporting isolation of those who are infected; identifying contacts who may have been exposed, assessing their symptoms and risk, and providing instructions for next steps; linking those with symptoms to testing and care.

The council has no role in contact tracing but will be linked in if isolation of individuals and families requires support through the Community Hub.   It is really important that if you have any symptoms of Coronavirus infection (a fever, persistent new cough or recent loss of taste or smell), you self-isolate at home and arrange to get yourself tested.  If you test positive, it is even more important that you respond to the information that you’re given, engage with the contact tracing process and comply with the advice that’s given.  This is going to be critical in containing the spread of the virus.

Test and Trace Scam

NCC has been made aware, through the National Network of Safeguarding Adults Board Managers of a recent scam involving Test and Trace. It is apparently very plausible and involves a phone call advising the individual that they have been identified as having been in contact with someone who is Covid-19 positive and advising that they need to purchase a test kit for £50. It is obviously intended to gain cash and bank details.  Anyone receiving a call they suspect is not genuine should report the call to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040

In a genuine call, contact tracers will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or Pin codes, or ask you to set up any passwords or Pin codes over the phone
  • ask you to purchase a product – including a test
  • ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

You Must Protect Yourself and Others

You must ensure that you follow national guidance to take basic hygiene precautions.  This remains the best way of significantly reducing the chances of spreading any virus: sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it; wash your hands frequently; and don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands. 

For the latest up-to-date information, it is really important we only use TRUSTED SOURCES for information, these are:

  • General health advice: NHS UK and Public Health England – these are being updated on a daily basis, and NCC are continually reviewing these.
  • Public information: All information and guidance including number of cases from
  • Foreign travel: If you are planning to travel abroad, please note the latest FCO travel advice all non-essential foreign travel has been suspended indefinitely. Please also check if you return home from abroad that you follow Public Health England (PHE) guidance if you develop symptoms.
  • FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) are available from
  • Urgent assistance / advice: If you are in any doubt, please go to NHS 111 Covid-19 online support in the first instance

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