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Coronavirus: Council services updates

We are continuing to operate essential services and are taking any necessary precautions to keep our customers and staff safe in line with government instructions

Stay at home save lives image

(LINK) Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do


Letter from the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is writing to every UK household to urge them to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Read the letter here (30/3/2020) the letter will also include a leaflet which can be read here - adobe icon Stay at Home, Save Lives [226kb].


Stay at home:

•    Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
•    If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
•    Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don't have symptoms.
•    Wash your hands as soon as you get home


We are continuing to review the impact on services to our community and focusing all our efforts on the essential services. Please help us in this important work by not contacting us unless it is an urgent matter while all our staff focus on these priorities. Thank you for your support. 

Refuse and recycling collections are still being carried out but we're expecting disruption over the next few days or weeks. Please bear with us while we put our plans in place and check here regularly for information and updates. 


See daily updates below, or go to sections:
 

teal bullet Community support, Hampshire helpline

teal bullet Waste, recycling, and environment

teal bullet Rents, Benefits and Council Tax

teal bullet Coronavirus: Housing and homelessness

teal bullet Support for businesses

teal bullet Planning and building control

teal bullet Health & Leisure

Latest NHS information and advice (LINK) 

Latest information from central government (LINK) 

British Sign Language (BSL) guides about Coronavirus from Sign Health: https://www.signhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/ 


Friday 3 April 2020

15:35 Benefits advice and support

Our Benefits Team are on hand to provide support, advice and to answer queries during this stressful time. Please bear with us as we are busier than usual at the moment and remember to check our website regularly for updates.

Important changes from 1 April:

  • The LHA rates are increasing. We will update these soon and notify you. You can view the new rates at newforest.gov.uk/LHARates
  • Working Tax Credit is increasing by £20 per week. This will not affect the amount of Housing Benefit you get
  • We are still working on the Hardship fund payments and will make an announcement about this soon

If you're claiming for a Council Tax reduction, please remember to provide all the information needed so we can process your claim as quickly as possible.


13:28 Clinical Waste Collection

If you have a clinical waste collection, either in orange sacks or in a yellow sharps box, please put your waste out for collection as normal.


13:26 Cemeteries

Our cemeteries service is working closely with the area's funeral directors so that the rules around funeral attendance and social distancing at cemeteries can be followed. 

http://newforest.gov.uk/article/3659/Cemeteries-Service 

https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death


10:52 Business Rates Grant

We've contacted over 3,000 local businesses likely to be eligible for the Business Rates Support Grant.  So far, 741 of you have got in touch.   If you have not yet received a letter or email, see newforest.gov.uk/Business-Grants-Information  for information on the grants and to see if you may be eligible, and use the Business Rates Support Grant eform to apply.


10:00 Explaining Coronavirus to children

Are you struggling to explain about what's going on to your children? The Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust have developed a Coronavirus fact sheet for children to help them understand the importance of hand washing and how to help stop the virus spreading.

adobe icon Coronavirus fact sheet for children [3Mb]


Thursday 2 April 2020


14:55:  Are you a landlord for or a tenant of a privately rented property? Gas Safety Inspection information

  • Tenants - Landlords still have a duty to carry out annual gas safety inspections. If your annual inspection is due, please allow access for this to happen. If you are self-isolating, please make your landlord aware of this, so that they can make appropriate arrangements for the inspection to be carried out at a suitable time once you have stopped self-isolation.  See latest government advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

When the gas safe engineer is carrying out the inspection, please allow them as much space as possible, allowing the minimum of 2m separating distance.

  • Landlords - You still have a duty to carry out annual gas safety inspections. You are encouraged to arrange your annual gas safety checks as early as possible, as a contingency against tenants being in self-isolation for a period, or gas engineers being unavailable due to illness.

Given the restrictions that have been put in place in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is essential that any engineer undertaking work still follows the guidelines in terms of:

•Keeping a minimum of 2m apart from other people (who are not from your household),

•Washing hands frequently,

•Wiping down all surfaces

For further information please follow the latest advice: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g., refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This will need to include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineers attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available.


10:57 - New Forest District Council Meetings

In line with Government guidance on gatherings, all NFDC public meetings have been cancelled until further notice.  The Coronavirus Act 2020 has been made.  The Council is now awaiting Regulations from the Government in relation to local authority meetings.  Once these regulations have been received, we will be able to provide further guidance on the arrangements for future meetings.


08:30 - Business Rates Support Grant 

http://newforest.gov.uk/businessrates

In response to the Coronavirus the Government has announced it will be supporting business with grants.  The grants are available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value up to £51,000, and any small business getting Small Business Rate Relief.  You can request your Business Rates Support Grant online at: www.newforest.gov.uk/Business-Support-Grants

Also see: Government information about business grants https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses


Wednesday 1 April 2020


Fly Tipping

I'm not fly tipping...am I?

Fly tipping isn't just criminals dumping large piles of waste in a secluded part of our forest. If you:

  • give your DIY and rubble to someone to dispose of who doesn't have a waste carriers license, or
  • leave a bag outside a closed charity shop, or
  • put rubbish, glass or other recyclables on the floor next to a full bin or recycling bank...

...then you may be fly tipping.

Fly-tipping is a serious criminal offence for which you can be prosecuted. The courts have various powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping, including imprisonment and substantial fines of up to £50,000.

We are prioritising our work to be able to continue collecting black sack waste from your properties. The police, and council officers are also patrolling the area.  You can help by:

  • Holding on to unwanted items for the time being; house clearance waste, DIY materials and old clothes and toys. It can be tempting to put them out with the general waste if you are having a clear out, but please just keep them for a short a time
  • Reducing garden waste, for example by starting a compost heap or add to a compost bin
  • Cutting down your food waste; don't buy or cook more than you need, store or freeze leftovers, keep an eye on use by dates, compost what you can (fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, tea bags and coffee granules)
  • Reporting fly tipping https://www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/flytipping/report-fly-tipping

Safer New Forest

Safer New Forest is a partnership made up of agencies such as New Forest District Council, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Probation. Together they work towards reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and to make the New Forest a safer place to live, work and visit. Their key priorities for 2020-2021 are:

  • Children at risk

  • Modern slavery & human trafficking

  • Drug & alcohol related harm

  • Domestic abuse

Find out more about the support they can offer during this difficult time: http://www.safer.newforest.gov.uk/article/17293/Safer-New-Forest


Animal welfare and home boarding for pets - advice during the Coronavirus outbreak

Licensed home boarding establishments for pets are able to continue to operate during the Coronavirus outbreak, providing they maintain all social distancing guidelines.
This includes;

  • only accepting animals from key workers, those in a vulnerable group or people self-isolating who are unable to look after their pet themselves, and
  • following the advice to only leave the house for exercise once a day.

Our full advice for the operators of licensed home pet boarding businesses is here http://www.newforest.gov.uk/article/19393/Animal-Welfare-Advice-during-the-Coronavirus-Outbreak

Government advice for animal owners is at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-people-with-animals


Tuesday 31 March 2020 


Coronavirus Hampshire Helpline - How can I get help?

A new helpline is now available to provide information and advice, as well as practical support to frail or vulnerable Hampshire residents.

The Coronavirus Hampshire Helpline (Hantshelp4vulnerable) can be contacted on

0333 370 4000

The helpline* is available seven days a week, from 9am-5pm, and is for vulnerable people who do not have support from families, friends or their local community, and who need urgent assistance with practical issues

The Government has also identified some people who are 'extremely vulnerable' to getting seriously ill from Coronavirus because of an underlying health condition such as COPD, certain cancers and auto-immune conditions, and pregnant women with underlying health conditions. Those in this group will have been contacted by the NHS to request that they should not leave home for at least 12 weeks, and have been advised that if they do not have friends, family or neighbours who can provide support, they can register for help to access food, medicine and social contact via gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable.  

What sort of help will I get?

The Hampshire helpline is for frail or vulnerable people who need urgent assistance with essential food or household supplies, collection of medication, or who are at risk of loneliness. Please discuss your requirements with our friendly advisors who will ensure you get the help you need.

If you need urgent food supplies, you can expect to receive a food box, typically containing:

  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Soup
  • UHT milk
  • Long life orange juice
  • Bread
  • Apples
  • Biscuits
  • Plus urgent household necessities if needed eg shower gel

Wherever possible, special dietary requirements will be met. 

Keeping safe

It is vital that if you are giving, or receiving help, you take precautions to ensure your safety and those of others.

We urge all volunteers to adhere to Government's (LINK) guidance on how to volunteer safely.

Your local Council for Voluntary Service (LINK) will also be able to provide information and support.

If you are receiving help, you should follow the Government's social distancing and hygiene guidance. Do not let anyone into your home, unless you have confirmation that they are a registered professional or representative of a recognised Voluntary / Community sector organisation. Be cautious and curious and ask volunteers for proof of ID.

You can keep up to date with the latest Government guidance via   www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

If you're worried you have Coronavirus, follow the NHS advice   www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

*Please note the service is for people currently residing in the county of Hampshire. If you are a resident of Southampton, Portsmouth or the Isle of Wight, and call the number above, you will be signposted to their respective local support numbers.


Government Business Grants

We will be writing to businesses this week who are eligible for the Government Business Grants with details about how we will be distributing these funds. Look out for your letter and monitor this link for further updates http://newforest.gov.uk/article/19371/Coronavirus-Support-for-businesses


Hampshire-wide appeal for PPE: Can you help the organisations who are working to maintain our critical services during this very challenging time?

Hampshire's emergency services, local authorities and utility companies are coordinating the local response to COVID-19 across Hampshire. In addition to supporting our NHS Health partners on the frontline and managing the logistics of distributing emergency food and medicine parcels to the most vulnerable, we are continuing to:  

·         Respond to police, fire and ambulance emergencies;

·         Maintain refuse collection;

·         Maintain visits to sheltered housing schemes and supporting the homeless community;

These activities require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect the key workers who are delivering these services on a daily basis.

You will have seen in the media that there is a national need for PPE to support these critical frontline services and we are therefore asking local businesses to donate any of the items that they may have below.

·         Nitrile gloves    

·         Disposable plastic aprons or gowns        

·         Tyvex suits                                               

·         Eye protection:

o   surgical mask with integrated visor

o   full face shield/visor

o   polycarbonate safety spectacles or equivalent 

·         Face masks

o   Water repellent surgical masks

o   FFP3 respirators                     

·         Alcohol hand gel (60% minimum alcohol content)            

·         Cleaning wipes - with high alcohol content         

To donate please contact COVIDdonations@hantsfire.gov.uk


Temporary takeaway use

Earlier this month, the Government relaxed planning regulations to allow public houses and restaurants to temporarily operate as food takeaways. Whilst pubs and restaurants don't need to apply for planning permission to do this, they must notify their Local Planning Authority in writing. Find out more:


Monday 30 March 2020


Leader's message, on COVID-19 response in the New Forest

As we go into the second week of the more stringent national measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, I remain so proud of the people in our community.  I have been out in my local neighbourhood checking on my neighbours and getting shopping, and I have seen so many others doing the same.
These offers of help and acts of kindness I know are a great comfort, and are happening all across our district.    

I have also seen how technology is helping us keep in touch, with people learning IT skills they didn't even know they had.  I myself am thrilled to be able to stay in touch with my granddaughter Lilyrose who may not yet be two, but can video-chat like it's the norm.

In continuing to focus on supporting our communities, we are reprioritising our staff and resources at NFDC to the essential services such as refuse collections and homelessness support.  This is not easy, as we face our own staffing challenges and the need to adapt to new tasks, and so I thank all our staff who are working tirelessly in support of this common aim.

We have in the past week set up our local response hub to support our most vulnerable residents with food parcels, delivered in partnership with the voluntary sector, community groups and staff volunteers. 

We are offering a range of flexible payment plans for council tax for those of you who are facing financial difficulty because of these new challenges, and we have information on a range of benefits and financial assistance we can advise on. 

The district has one of the highest numbers of small business and self-employed people in the county and we are working hard to ensure they have access to the support and information they need. Our main focus has been on making sure business know about the help and support available from government. And, through the New Forest Business Partnership, we have organised our first online Virtual Support event, focusing on marketing in challenging times, with a plan to do more of these.

If you can do so safely, please help us by sharing the key information we are adding to the web pages with people who are not online. And please check here regularly for updates as our services are likely to change over the coming days and weeks. 

The best thing we can all do right now to look out for each other is to stay home and follow government advice.  Thank you for all you are doing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and to help your friends, families, and neighbours.   

Cllr Barry Rickman


Waste and Recycling FAQs

We are doing all we can to make sure household waste and recycling continues to be collected.  Our staff are doing a difficult job and we ask that you please respect our crews, and keep 2m away from them.  Please don't approach them with questions.You can also help your waste collection crew by not doing a big clear out of your home right now, and not putting out more waste than necessary.  Check back here regularly for updates and advice on how to store your waste. 

Are you still collecting rubbish?

Yes, waste collection is a critical service and most important is the collection of black sacks. We collect over three hundred thousand sacks. Every week.  We may have to make changes to other services to ensure that we can continue to collect your black sacks. Currently glass collections are still taking place. Garden waste collections have been suspended.

Why has your service changed / reduced?

Collecting the household waste is the priority. That's your black sacks containing food waste and non-recyclable waste. But because of coronavirus and its impact, we have less staff to do the rounds, some are self-isolating or are in vulnerable groups.  Also affecting how quickly we can do the collections are measures we are following to keep our crews safe, for example we have introduced social distancing and staggered start times so the rounds may take a bit longer.  We must also take more care over the waste we do collect, especially from houses that have been self-isolating. Add to this that people are at home, so they are producing more rubbish. 

All this combined means we need to look at prioritising our services to make sure we can continue to collect black sacks.

To help this we have redeployed people from other council services, the ones that usually do the non-essential garden waste for example. But in some areas, we are losing the knowledge of our regular crew who are familiar with the streets they visit, and so collections will take longer.

What can households do to help?

You can help us continue to collect your waste by minimising what you put out for collection:

o   Hold on to unwanted items for the time being;house clearance waste, DIY materials and old clothes and toys. It can be tempting to put them out with the general waste if you are having a clear out, but please just keep them for a short a time.

o   Garden waste; start a compost heap or add to a compost bin. 

o   Reduce food waste; don't buy or cook more than you need, store or freeze leftovers, keep an eye on use by dates, compost what you can (fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, tea bags and coffee granules).

o   For more information on how reduce your waste https://www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/smartliving

How should I put my sacks out for collection?  

We're working hard to deliver essential services, and we're prioritising collection of household rubbish and recycling. It's important you can identify your own sacks. Please help us at this time by putting your sacks out for collection at the edge of your own property and not stack-pilling your sacks with your neighbours. If your sacks are not collected on your collection day please take them back in and check our website for updates. This will help maintain cleanliness in our communities and prevent further risk to health. 

What do I do if my waste isn't collected?

If your waste is not collected, we are asking residents to take their waste in and check our web page for updates newforest.gov.uk/coronavirus. If rounds have been cancelled, we will post updates there. If there is no update, your sacks may have been missed by the crew, remember they may be new staff from other services and therefore not know where all householders leave their waste. If you can hold onto your waste until next time, this would really help. However, if you have been missed twice or your waste is causing an issue you can report this as a missed bin http://newforest.gov.uk/article/14071/Missed-collections We will do our best to return and collect it.

What if people in my street are still stack piling their sacks?

We appreciate that not everyone will be aware of this new advice, that is why we are asking our communities to share this information safely with their neighbours. A note through the door or a conversation form a safe distance would really help us.  

Additional advice regarding stack piling:

o    Flats and communal bins;please continue to use the communal bin areas but be considerate and minimise your waste wherever possible. Do not leave uncontained waste.

o    Shared driveways; If you must leave your waste with your neighbours, try and keep them slightly apart so you can identify them. 

o    Houses with no vehicle access;we have informed all our crews not to expect stack piles and to check properties where stack piles are normally made. Please make sure the sacks are in plain sight.

What shall I do with my garden waste now the tip is closed?

We appreciate that as we move into the growing season people will have more garden waste to dispose of.   Please help us by following these do's and don'ts:

Do

o    DO compost garden waste at home, here is a useful link  https://www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/smartliving

o    DO cut the grass regularly and leave the cuttings on the lawn

o    DO bag and store garden waste until further notice

Don't

o    DON'T burn your waste, please consider your neighbours

o    DON'T leave garden waste out for collection on the kerbside

o    DON'T leave garden waste on the forest, this can be dangerous for free roaming animals

o    And...DON'T fly tip.  As the police would say, "Fly tipping is not an essential journey. With the extra police on the roads you should ensure you are only making essential journeys."

Information from Hampshire County Council: How to reduce waste while HWRCs are closed https://www.hants.gov.uk/News/27032020

What if I don't have enough black sacks?

We are delivering black sacks as per our normal schedule, we have prioritised this service to ensure that people can contain their waste. This is the link to our approximate delivery timetable: http://newforest.gov.uk/media/39372/sack-delivery-schedule/Pdf/FINAL_sacks_delivery_schedule.pdf

If you have run out of sacks, you can put your waste out in any available sack, but please make sure it is tied securely. We still have our regular supply of sacks being delivered to the depot, although our suppliers are prioritising deliveries to the NHS, so currently we will not be able to increase the delivery of sacks to customers.

How are you keeping your crews safe?

We appreciate that our operatives like many key workers are at increased risk. The role of a waste collector by its very nature means that operatives are sometimes in proximity, in a vehicle for example, and they must pick up rubbish bags that may contain hazardous or contaminated waste. The job they do is vital; so, we are doing all we can to mitigate this risk whilst ensuring that we continue to offer this critical service.

Here are some of the things we have put in place:

•         We have advised operatives where possible, to walk or drive in their own vehicles to the start of the rounds. This means that they do not have to sit in the cab with the driver.

•         We have staggered the of start times in our depots, to ensure fewer people are onsite at one time.

•         Operatives have always been strongly advised not to touch their faces and to regularly clean their hands whilst working. We have reinforced this message to all our staff.

•         Most of our vehicles have a sink and soap, those that do not are provided with antibacterial wipes.

•         Our crews always have worn gloves, and we are seeking supply of more so that they can be changed more frequently. 

•         Staff are being asked to take breaks outside of cab and follow social distancing.

•         We have advised the public on how to safely contain potentially contaminated waste.

Face Masks

Public Health England advise that face masks are NOT an effective way of controlling the spread of Covid-19.  It is likely that if the crew were to wear face masks, they would touch their face more to adjust or remove the mask during the day, increasing the risk.  Therefore, we have not issued face masks to our crew.  It is far more important to concentrate on the regular hand cleaning and ensure our crew, where possible, can exercise social distancing. 

Advice on how to store your rubbish for anyone with confirmed or possible Coronavirus or if you are self-isolating (COVID-19):

•    Double bag all waste that contains tissues
•    Do not put it out for collection for at least 72 hours

(Please see the information at the top of this page for more on this) 

Can I take recycling to the banks in supermarket car parks, etc?

We have received notice from The Salvation Army (our clothing/textile recycling bank contractor) that they have closed their operations. This means until further notice, textile recycling banks on Council land will not be emptied. Our waste collection team are also under pressure with increasing staff shortages. This means it may become more difficult for us to empty the recycling bins at our sites located at supermarkets and car parks across the district. In line with government advice please stay at home and do not visit our recycling bank sites. Overspill and uncontained waste could cause a health risk. For now recyclable materials can still be set out with normal kerbside collections. Please store unwanted clothing and textiles until further notice.

How are you telling people all this?

o    Regular updates on our website

o    Encouraging our communities to share our information safely

o    Giving local radio stations this information

o    Sharing updates with our Town & Parish Councils

o    Regular posts on social media

o    Adverts in the Advertiser & Times newspaper


Friday 27 March 2020


Stay at home, save lives 

Please follow government restrictions not to travel to the forest, please see https://www.thenewforest.co.uk/visitor-info/covid-19. This is especially important this weekend as following recent warm weather the whole area is now under an amber warning for the risk of wild fires. If you're heading outside to exercise, stay local and don't travel unnecessarily.


Support for the self-employed

Details of last night's announcement to support the self-employed are now on the government's dedicated business support website https://businesssupport.gov.uk/self-employment-income-support-scheme/


Homelessness advice

If you are about to become homeless because you are losing your home or you are at risk of homelessness because you have been asked to leave your accommodation please complete this Homelessness Form. If you are homeless today please submit the online form and call the team on 023 8028 5234


Waste collections

  • Our waste collection teams are working very hard to maintain critical waste collections for the whole of the district. However we are finding that many households are displaying much more waste than usual and we are struggling to collect all of this extra waste.
  • So that we are able to continue collections for everyone, we ask that all households adhere to the following:
  • Only set out your normal household waste.
  • We cannot collect:
    • un-bagged waste, furniture or electricals
    • garden waste
    • house clearance or DIY waste  
  • It's important you can identify your own sacks. Please help us by:
  • Do not stack-pile your sacks with your neighbours.
  • Putting your sacks out for collection at the edge of your own property.

If your sacks are not collected on your collection day please take them back in and check our website for updates.


Environmental Health

An update from our environmental health team for food businesses has been added to the following page - Businesses Advice - Offering Food Takeaway or Delivery During the Coronavirus Outbreak.

Some advice for consumers who may be using takeaway or food delivery services during this time can be found at - Consumers Advice - Takeaway Food During the Coronavirus Outbreak.


Thursday 26 March 2020


Refuse collections

  • Our crews have been given guidance on how to maintain social distancing and we are trying to adjust the way we carry out the service to follow this in a safe way, eg some loaders are going directly to their collection rounds rather that travelling in a refuse vehicle. Please bear with us as we try and maintain essential services for our community and still take care of our staff in their roles.  It is a hugely complicated process but there is lots of work going on and there will be some adjustments to refuse collections in the coming days so please keep an eye on our website announcements.  
  • We're working hard to deliver essential services, and we're prioritising collection of household rubbish and recycling. It's important you can identify your own sacks. Please help us at this time by putting your sacks out for collection at the edge of your own property and not stack-pilling your sacks with your neighbours. If your sacks are not collected on your collection day please take them back in and check our website for updates.

NFDC Car  Parks

Town and village car parks will remain open for use in line with the current guidance and we have suspended charges for three weeks (will be reviewed) to help the large number of volunteers in obtaining essential supplies for those who are self-isolating or are vulnerable people. 

  • You are asked to avoid using our coastal (amenity) car parks where charges will still apply, as part of actions to enforce social distancing and the Government's Stay at Home instructions.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
  • Parking clocks:  Please note refunds will not be given for parking clocks for this three week period, but we are looking at extending the expiration date of the Clocks depending upon the duration of this suspension. Parking clocks - we have suspended sales of parking clocks until further notice
  • Notices are being placed in all our car parks. 
  • If you are parked in an NFDC car park and are unable to move your car and exceed the parking duration for reasons associated with Coronavirus, this will be treated with sensitivity if you need to contact us about any Penalty Charge Notice you may have received.

Public conveniences

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 all of our public toilet blocks are closed until further notice.


Wednesday 25 March 2020


Housing Maintenance

Our Housing Services is continuing to provide key services to our tenants who require housing related assistance. So that we can continue to provide these key services, at the moment we are only carrying out essential repairs to council homes.

These include: Emergency repairs and work - work necessary to prevent danger to life or extensive damage to property, or if the problem will have an adverse effect on a medical need, and Urgent repairs and work - essential repairs to prevent undue inconvenience or further damage to property

All Planned work (kitchens, bathrooms, windows, doors, roofs etc.) will cease until further notice.

Our Housing Maintenance staff and contractors will be following social distancing guidance when visiting tenants' homes and will continue observing good hygiene standards in accordance with the national guidance.


Rent

Tenants who find themselves in difficulty with paying their rent due to loss of earnings because of self- isolation or illness can seek advice by emailing the Rents Team at rents@nfdc.gov.uk


 

Garden waste collection service suspension

We have made the difficult decision to suspend the Garden Waste Collection service from 30 March 2020 until further notice. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, however we are already experiencing staff shortages, and need to deploy our staff to the most critical services.

Please note whilst we plan to maintain the service until Friday 27 March, the situation is changing rapidly, if your bags are not collected please take them in and do not report as a missed bin.

All garden waste customers will be receiving a letter advising them of this within the next week, however if you know people that use our garden waste service who do not have access to online information, please pass on this advice.

Please see details below with advice depending on how you had paid for the service:

Direct Debit

If you had signed up to pay for this service by direct debit, please note this payment will not be collected in April. We have cancelled this payment run and will contact you again when we resume the service advising how and when we will collect the direct debit and how much it will be.

Payment via website, information office or over the phone (cash, card or cheque)

If you have paid for the coming year via one of the methods above, we will contact you again when the service resumes with details on how we can recompense you for this period of service suspension.

Please note - If you have joined the Garden Waste scheme in the last two weeks, please accept our apologies, as your welcome letter may cross with this letter in the post. If you are a new customer and expecting a delivery of a sack, please be assured we will deliver these once the service recommences. Similarly, if you requested a replacement sack in the last two weeks these will also be delivered once the service recommences.

Disposing of Garden Waste during suspension period

We ask where possible customers compost their garden waste at home, you can find lots of information to help you compost successfully on Hampshire County Council's website www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/smartliving

Our customer service team have been extremely busy dealing with enquiries. Please refrain from contacting our customer services team on this matter. We will be in touch and will resume the service as soon as we can. Thank you for your understanding.


Cemeteries and funeral services 

Following the latest Government measures; we would like to reassure people that funeral services in cemeteries are still permitted, but only immediate family should attend, and only where it is safe for them to do so in line with current government restrictions gov.uk/coronavirus. We will continue to provide a service at our cemeteries and accommodate families' burials wishes. We anticipate that we will continue with all interments for cremated remains and burials until we are advised otherwise. Our burial service continuity is dependant on cemeteries staffing availability; all possible measures have been put in place to ensure all interments can go ahead. We ask that all interment organisers and families comply with current Government regulations on social distancing to ensure safety for all those involved, we understand how difficult these measures are but the health and safety of all concerned is our priority.

Please be aware Government regulations are liable to change, so please speak with your funeral director.


Fraud warning

Hampshire County Council are warning about opportunist scammers using social media to find people who are looking for emergency repair work. In this increasingly vulnerable time make sure you stay scam aware. Read more from Trading Standards.


Tuesday 24 March 2020


Coronavirus (COVID-19) - helping Hampshire residents most in need

Thank you to the many people who have volunteered their help to support our county's vulnerable residents.  New Forest District Council is working closely with local authority partners, as well as the community and voluntary sector across the county of Hampshire, to ensure we are able to provide help to those who most need it during the coming weeks. We are working hard to ensure offers of support are co-ordinated, and will respond to offers of assistance we have had.  

We urge all residents to heed the Prime Minister's statement on 23 March to observe strict social distancing, limit going out from our homes unless for essential activities, to keep ourselves, our families and loved ones, and our communities safe.

National support - The government has identified a group of people who are extremely vulnerable because of their medical needs.  If you are in this group, you will have received a text or letter confirming this.  This means that if you do not have friends, family or neighbours who can provide support, you can register for help at gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to access what you need.  This includes help with food, shopping deliveries, additional care and medication services.

Local Support - If you do not have friends, family or neighbours who can provide support, a range of services is being organised by local partners working together.

What to do next  

  • If you are a Hampshire resident and need additional help with practical support or more specific needs, details of who to contact and how this will be arranged will be published here by 27 March.
  • In the meantime, for urgent practical support requirements, please get in touch with your local Council for Voluntary Service - www.hampshirecvs.org.uk

We want to do everything we can to help those who need it during what will be a very challenging period for us all.  


Planning and Building Control

Coronavirus: Planning and building control

We are dealing with all planning applications as normal at the moment, though there will be no site visits that require going into properties that are inhabited. Planning applications can be submitted in the normal way.

Building Control continues to operate as normal, but we will not be carrying out any internal inspections of buildings that are inhabited. This may impact on the issuing of completed certificates. Building Control will continue to deal with dangerous structures.

Land Charges is operating as normal.

Advice on planning, trees, conservation and listed buildings continues to be available by phone or email. Please visit http://newforest.gov.uk/planning


Business rates

Coronavirus: Rents, Benefits and Council Tax

We have approved two new policies to support businesses from 1 April 2020. These are the expanded retail discount and nursery discount. Our Business Rates team are very busy applying the new policies and where we can grant the discount we will and you will receive a revised bill. There is no need to make contact with us at this time. We are still awaiting details of the new business support grants and we will update this webpage when we find out more.


Premises closures

Following guidance from Government that pubs and restaurants should close, we are working with Trading Standards and are contacting any we believe to still be operating. If this is to offer a delivery service our Environmental Health team can advise on 023 8028 5230 or eho.office@nfdc.gov.uk 


Hampshire County Council's Household Waste Recycling Centres

Due to the latest guidance from government, Hampshire County Council have closed all their waste and recycling centres. At the moment, we are continuing kerbside collections as usual but will let you know if this changes. Keep checking here and on our Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.


Monday 23 March 2020


Support for local businesses

We are continuing to receive a lot of enquiries about the business grant funding and rate relief. If you have questions about availability and eligibility, get in touch by emailing businesssupport@nfdc.gov.uk but please bear with us during these busy times. We are working with a range of local and regional partner organisations to be able to provide additional channels of business support. When more information is available about this, we will let you know. During these difficult and quickly changing times, we are engaging with our local business partner organisations to gather intelligence about the local business challenges being faced by our community and we are able to communicate this information upwards at county and national level. You can view up-to-date information for businesses here on our website, via Twitter and by signing up to our eNewsletters


Sunday 22 March 2020


Camping in the Forest

Campsites are closed: https://www.campingintheforest.co.uk/blog/health-and-safety/coronavirus

Gov.uk: Guidance and advice to avoid non-essential travel in the UK.  Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.


Friday 20 March 2020


Health & Leisure

Our Health & Leisure centres remain closed.  Please read more information at: http://www.newforest.gov.uk/healthandleisure/article/19375/FAQs-related-to-current-closure


Ringwood Bi-election postponed

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak the upcoming bi-election for the Ringwood North ward of Ringwood Town Council has been postponed until further notice. The bi-election had been scheduled for 23 April 2020. When a new date has been agreed, details will be available at http://www.newforest.gov.uk/article/18506/Town-and-Parish-Council---pending-elections


Energy industry available support

The government has agreed measures with the energy industry to support the most vulnerable.  For information about the support available see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-agrees-measures-with-energy-industry-to-support-vulnerable-people-through-covid-19


Benefits and tax reduction available support 

If you are self-employed and temporarily unable to work, or your hours have reduced, contact our Benefits Team on 01590 646121 between 8.45 and 1pm for advice and information.  You may be entitled to help with your Council Tax through the Council Tax Reduction scheme.  You can claim online at newforest.gov.uk/benefits If you are claiming Universal Credit or other state benefits visit https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/ for some important information.


Appletree Careline community alarm

Our Appletree Careline service continues to operate 24/7 and have retrained some staff from other services to help out, should it be needed.  For new alarm installations when visiting people's homes, we are taking all the necessary precautions around social distancing, self-isolation, and hand washing.  http://www.newforest.gov.uk/appletreecareline


Statement from Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney, Chair of the Local Resilience Forum

As part of our regular review of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (HIOW LRF) has now declared the Coronavirus outbreak a major incident.  We have already been providing a multi-agency response for a number of weeks and the declaration of a major incident simply means we move to the next phase of our well-rehearsed plans.   This ensures all partners, which includes all the emergency services, can use joint working arrangements to effectively manage, and where possible minimise, the impact of the virus on our population during these unprecedented times. The HIOW LRF comprises the public sector partners in Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.


17:20 - Business Rates

We are updating our records to award the 100% Retail Discount to existing recipients of the discount from 1 April 2020 and will look to identify businesses now included within the extended scheme to grant the discount from April.  We are waiting for the Government to provide details about the grants available and will provide details as soon as we are able. 


17:20 Council Tax and Benefits (Universal Credit) 

Our staff are endeavouring to respond to calls and emails as swiftly as they can, and to process e-forms quickly.  Home visits have been suspended.  For those claiming Universal credit please see https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus// for support and guidance.

If you need to claim Universal Credit please apply on line at www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim or call the helpline on 0800 328 6455.


Thursday 19 March 2020


15:00 - Chapels

We are no longer taking bookings at the two chapels at our cemeteries at Lymington and Beaulieu.  We understand this may be upsetting, but would like to reassure people that our chapels are only booked a handful of times a year and, taking into account current guidance and following the lead of churches, we are unable to guarantee adequate social distancing within the confine spaces of the chapels.  Discussions with regards to grave-side services at these cemeteries should be directed to your funeral director. 


12:24 - Community support

Thank you to everyone in our community who is pulling together to help the most vulnerable residents.  We are aware of a number of groups that are offering support to people who are vulnerable or self-isolating and we have a listed some of the facebook groups at: Coronavirus: Community support, Hampshire helpline as well as other community support available. 


11:35 - Housing, benefits and rent

Rent

Tenants who are concerned about making their rent payments due to loss of earning because of illness or self-isolation are advised to check the DWP website https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

If you need advice on how to make a claim please contact Citizen's Advice, or speak to a member of the Revenues & Benefits team or Rents team.

Statutory Sick Pay

To claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you must inform your employer, if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor - this is currently under development and will be made available soon.

Housing Benefit

If you are claiming Housing Benefit and it has stopped or have a query you will need to speak to the Revenues & Benefits team on 01590 646121.


11:00 - Update from our Operations services: Waste, recycling, open spaces, litter services, coastal

As of today (19/03/2020) we are continuing to operate essential services and are taking any necessary steps to keep our customers and staff safe in line with the latest advice from government.

A small number of our operational staff have taken the precaution to self-isolate. With this in mind, we have started to suspend some of our services to both minimise unnecessary social contact and to ensure that we are putting our efforts into keeping our most essential services running.

Our staff are also changing their ways of working; where possible our office-based staff are working from home to minimise close contact with colleagues and stop the spread of the virus. We have plans in place to support critical services and are working hard to ensure that this continues throughout the coming weeks:

Waste and recycling

·       All waste and recycling collections are currently still taking place as normal including glass, garden and health care waste.

·       Bookings for bulky waste collections have been suspended until further notice. However, if you have already booked a collection, we are anticipating that this will still take place.

Street Scene, Environmental Enforcement and Open Spaces

·       All services are currently operating as normal although we are expecting some delays or disruptions as some staff are currently being retrained to assist with refuse collections if needed

·       Members of the public who are looking to purchase or renew their parking clocks are being asked to do this on-line rather than visiting any of our information offices. http://newforest.gov.uk/parkingclocks

Environmental Health

·       Routine food hygiene inspections, taxi knowledge tests and safeguarding training have all been suspended until further notice.

·       Staff are seeking to support local food businesses including manufacturers and those who can operate as takeaways or delivery services, through the provision of advice and visits under some circumstances.

·       Environmental Protection are operating as normal subject to a risk assessment before visits.

Coastal and Civic Buildings

·       The Keyhaven River Warden Office is closed, please contact keyhavenriverwarden@nfdc.gov.uk or coastal.team@nfdc.gov.uk

·       The coastal team continue to carry out regular inspections of the coast line.

Over the next few weeks we do expect further disruption to our services. If changes do start to happen, be assured that this is because we are deploying our staff to the most critical services, and that we are doing this so that we can provide the best possible service to our residents. The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and the general public is as ever, our priority, and we will be taking any precautions we can to ensure that this maintained within our operations.


12:25 - Great British Spring Clean 

In light of the most recent government advice on Coronavirus, Keep Britain Tidy has postponed the Great British Spring Clean. We have therefore suspended all litter picks that have been registered with us. Anyone who has registered a litter pick with us will be contacted.

More information from Keep Britain Tidy.


Monday 16 March 2020


Advice on how to store your rubbish for anyone with confirmed or possible Coronavirus or if you are self-isolating (COVID-19):

•    Double bag all waste that contains tissues
•    Do not put it out for collection for at least 72 hours

Double bag: Personal waste (such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloth) should be stored separately to other waste, put in a smaller plastic waste bag and then put into a second bag.  This should be tied and kept separate from other waste in the room/s in which you are self-isolating. You can then place these into your black sack for collection.

Keep aside for at least 72 hours: Do not put it out for collection for at least 3 days. As an example, if you have filled/tied a bag on a Monday and your collection is due on a Thursday, that bag can be put out for collection on Thursday morning. However, if you have filled/tied a bag on a Monday and your collection is due on a Wednesday, you would need to hold onto that bag until your collection day the following week.

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

This advice is based on guidance form central government, designed to prevent transmission of the virus. 

Updated: 3 Apr 2020
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