Hello from Hayleigh & Sarah
Hello! On what is now the third bank holiday weekend in recent months, we hope that you are keeping well and able to enjoy the weekend whilst staying safe. Although the lockdown restrictions have eased slightly since our last update, this means that is more important than ever to take care when you are out and about, being mindful of keeping a safe distance from others and still staying home as much as possible. There is more specific guidance on what you can and cannot do on the government’s Coronavirus FAQ webpage. As everyone adjusts to the “new normal”, note that there is still support available for those who need it. We are currently helping our fantastic local community volunteer groups to investigate more longer-term funding for their activities, so that they can continue to provide help as required. The council’s own Community Support Team continues to run their support line for anyone in need, including over the bank holiday: call 01235 422 600 or email email@example.com.
Remember, for the most up-to-date coronavirus information relating to district council support and any changes to services, please take a look at the dedicated Vale webpage for updates: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/covid19
A reminder that all of the Vale’s waste collection services are once again up and running, and that Oxfordshire’s recycling centres have also now re-opened to the public. Changes to your bin collection days as a result of the bank holiday are on the table below and the following website: whitehorsedc.gov.uk/bankholiday
New discretionary grants scheme
The new discretionary grants scheme recently announced by the government will only provide an extra five per cent of funding on top of the money received in the first round of COVID-19 business grants in April. This means that unfortunately it will not provide anywhere near enough cash to support the vast majority of businesses in southern Oxfordshire affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have received the details of the government’s new discretionary business grants scheme and are currently pulling together a list of businesses that fit the detailed criteria. In line with government guidelines, we are aiming to release funds at the beginning of June and are working at pace to develop an online application based on the prescribed eligibility criteria. This may take a short while to set up, but will ensure the process is quicker and easier and speeds up decision making so we can make payments to successful applicants without delay. Our business support team will provide ongoing support and guidance to any businesses that aren’t successful in applying for this scheme – this will include signposting them to the government’s COVID-19 loan scheme, which can be processed and paid out very quickly.
If you have any questions, please email the Business Support team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Free webinar for businesses in South and Vale
We have partnered with Graham Ballantyne, Director of the UK Business Mentoring Group, to deliver a free webinar on Thursday to help local businesses with their recovery plans. The webinar will include lots of tips and pointers, along with useful templates, and complementary mentoring sessions. You can find out more information on the South and Vale Business Support website. We’ve also heard that the next Pop-Up business school for Oxfordshire is taking place online in June. There’s more information here.
The South & Vale Business Support team stays up-to-date on the latest government advice and support, and can advise on rates relief and business support grants. Visit their website for the latest info and to sign up for their e-newsletter: svbs.co.uk, and follow them on Twitter @TeamSVBS.
There is no specific update on council tax this time. Where possible, you should continue to pay your bills as normal. Residents who are currently not being paid, and are struggling to pay their council tax bill, are encouraged to apply for Council Tax Reduction – their account will then be put on hold for 30 days while their application is processed: whitehorsedc.gov.uk/ctrs
Remote committee meetings to take place online
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are to begin holding council committee meetings online via video conferencing from the end of May. The first virtual meeting of the Vale of White Horse District Council will be the Vale Planning Committee on Tuesday 26 May at 10.30am.
Councillors will use Microsoft Teams to take part in the meetings and members of the public will be able to watch online via a link which will be published alongside the meeting agenda on the councils’ websites five working days prior to the meeting. The councils will also publish the link to each meeting via their Facebook and Twitter pages. For details on how members of the public can submit statements or questions to be considered by a committee or council meeting please visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/meetings.
Once councillors and officers have got used to the new process and are confident that meetings can be carried out effectively and within the guidelines, the councils will look to introduce online public participation by live video. Following the COVID-19 outbreak and the introduction of social distancing rules in March, the two councils cancelled all their official meetings and acted quickly to focus their efforts on supporting local communities and vulnerable individuals. While the focus remains predominantly on supporting vulnerable residents affected by COVID-19, it is still important to ensure the transparency of local democracy and so the councils have now put in place measures to ensure that meetings can take place again.
County Council cycle projects
The County Council has launched a newsletter on its Science Vale Cycle Network Project (SVCN), which you can sign up to receive monthly updates about. The first of these projects is to construct a cycle route between Wantage and Harwell Campus, and this is due to start next week on 26 May. This project will be featured in the newsletter, which will also provide updates on other routes as projects progress. To sign up to the newsletter head to the county council’s transport bulletins page and chose Science Vale Cycle Network from the list – you can sign up for updates on other transport projects too.
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 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.