Local Government

Latest Coronavirus Information from Vale of White Horse District Council

March 27, 2020

Hello from Hayleigh & Sarah

Coronavirus Update from your Local District Councillors

Friday 27th March 2020

Hello! We hope that all residents are managing to stay safe and well during these unprecedented times of the coronavirus outbreak. Over the coming weeks, there will likely be further challenges, but we are confident that as a community we can pull together and look out for one another to get through the difficult times ahead.

It has already been very heartening to see that all the communities we represent have had dozens of volunteers offering to help vulnerable neighbours, and that each area is starting to officially organise and co-ordinate these volunteer efforts. Thank you so much to everyone involved in these groups: Blewbury Good Neighbours, Harwell Helpers, Chilton Mutual Aid, Great Western Park Community Support and the Upton village WhatsApp group.

The situation around the coronavirus outbreak is changing daily, and there is a lot of information coming through from various sources about how this affects aspects of our lives. With that in mind, we have put together this round-up of all the recent news from the Vale of White Horse District Council relating to how council services are affected, and how the council is supporting community volunteer groups and vulnerable residents.

Further updates will be posted on our councillor Facebook Page: Cllrs Hayleigh Gascoigne & Sarah Medley, and on the Vale of White Horse Facebook and Twitter accounts. However, for the most up-to-date information on how the district council’s services are affected, please take a look at the dedicated Vale webpage for updates: http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/news-events/coronavirus-covid-19-information.

Shielding our most vulnerable – new support lines for those who need help

Local authorities across Oxfordshire have worked with the local Voluntary and Community Sector to develop a simple point of contact for those who have been told by government that they have been identified as extremely vulnerable, and who have no support network and would otherwise be completely isolated. This new, dedicated support line will provide our extremely vulnerable residents access to a central team who will be able to offer advice on a range of issues.

If you or someone you know has been identified as extremely vulnerable by the NHS and have nobody around to help with day to day tasks like shopping, please call 01865 897820 or email shield@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

Anyone in this situation that is not considered high risk can call 01235 422600 or email communitysupport@southandvale.gov.uk

These support lines are open 8.30am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sundays.

Volunteering for the coronavirus community support efforts

We recognise that many of you who can would like to support your local communities during these challenging times, whether that’s delivering essentials, putting the bins out for someone, or being on the other end of a phone. To ensure that residents know where to turn, all community groups, community organisations and local businesses are being asked to include details of their initiatives on the Oxfordshire All In Response Map: https://www.oxfordshireallin.org/local-support-groups.

Council Services – General update

Due to the ongoing public health risk from the virus, the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils have closed their offices to the public. Residents can continue to access information about council services, and make payments, or make an application or a report via the council website: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/. The councils’ phone lines will remain open, but anybody that needs to contact council staff is encouraged to go online first or use email as this is likely to be quicker and will help the councils respond to those most in need first, during a difficult time. Anybody with an appointment at the council building from Monday 30 March onwards should contact the relevant team if they haven’t been in touch already.

Council Meetings and events – as a precaution, the following have been postponed:

  • All formal council meetings and committees have been cancelled until the end of April.
  • South and Vale Business Awards will now take place in the autumn.
  • The Police and Crime Commissioner Election has been postponed and will now take place in 2021.
  • Community sports activities for the over 60s that are part of our “Go Active Gold” programme and activities run for those with diabetes have been cancelled.

Waste collections

Most waste collections are running normally. Our waste contractor, Biffa, has suffered some staff shortages due to illness and self-isolation and so some bins might not be emptied on their usual collection day. Critical waste services are being prioritised, so we will not be taking on new customers for the Garden Waste Service until further notice

The advice for residents is as follows: if the bins in your street are not emptied, please leave them out for up to three days (including weekends) and we’ll try to catch up. If still not emptied, bring them back in and we will empty them on the next planned collection day. We’re also recommending residents wash their hands before and after taking the bins out to practice good hygiene for themselves and our bin crews.

If you have the virus or suspect you or someone in your household have it, please follow these guidelines from Public Health England about how to dispose of your waste: Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

Advice for businesses and job seekers

For the latest coronavirus advice for business owners, self-employed and job seekers, please see our South and Vale Business Support website https://www.svbs.co.uk/coronavirus-guidance-and-support/

Council tax

If you are having any difficulty paying your council tax for any reason, including if you have lost work or now have a reduced income, contact us as soon as possible on 0345 302 2313 or email vowh.counciltax@secure.capita.co.uk

Parking charges suspended

All parking charges in our council-owned car parks are now suspended until 1 June 2020, to support key workers and those needing to shop for essential food and medical supplies. You do not need to display a ticket. For all enquiries please email carparks.southandvale.uk@sabagroup.com or call 01235 470118.

Leisure and community centres, parks and play areas, and The Beacon

All our leisure centres, community centres, children’s play areas, sports and exercise areas, and The Beacon are now closed until further notice.

Taxi licensing

We cannot offer licensing appointments until further notice. For more information head to the webpage: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/business/licensing/taxi-licences

Planning and building control

There is some disruption to our planning and building control services. Please see our planning and building control pages for the latest information: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/make-planning-application and www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/building-control-1

Charity Support

AGE Concern Oxfordshire has set up a new helpline to advise anyone worried about the Corona Virus. You can find out more by visiting their website https://www.ageuk.org.uk/oxfordshire/about-us/news/coronavirus/  

SOFEA, the Didcot-based food charity, has also announced that it is offering free food deliveries to vulnerable residents. They’re looking for volunteers to help and have set up a Just Giving page for donations towards the service: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sofeacommunitylarder 

Take care, stay safe, stay home!

We will endeavour to keep you updated on the council’s response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 through future newsletters and our dedicated councillor Facebook Page: Cllrs Hayleigh Gascoigne & Sarah Medley. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any issues or concerns – our email addresses are hayleigh.gascoigne@whitehorsedc.gov.uk and sarah.medley@whitehorsedc.gov.uk.