The following comprehensive press release from our Council (and which has cross party support) was released on 24th April. We are very pleased to reproduce it here and to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the officers and members who have worked so tirelessly on our behalf:
Spelthorne Borough Council is working tirelessly to best support our residents and local businesses throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Spelthorne Borough Council closed its offices 6 weeks ago in response to Covid19 and rapidly moved to a virtual footing, successfully adapting our services to ensure residents still had access to the support they needed while maintaining ‘business as usual’ across our remaining services.
Since the crisis began daily conference calls of senior managers have coordinated the provision of services for residents. These have become a vital tool in order to orchestrate immediate support to vulnerable residents in our community and trying to mitigate the impact on businesses in the Borough. Regular engagement with regional and local resilience forums has ensured a coordinated and effective response to this unprecedented situation.
Covid-19 has highlighted extreme challenges for the Council with staff redeployment (roughly a quarter of our workforce have volunteered to be redeployed) a necessity to establish our community hub ‘Support4Spelthorne, support the increasing number of welfare calls to our residents and reassign staff to assist with the customer services team offering financial and housing advice.
A summary of actions taken by the Borough include:
- our community hub ‘Support4Spelthorne’ set up to provide food parcels and welfare calls for vulnerable residents.
- 1,883 residents who were identified as the most vulnerable (category A) by the government have been contacted by us to see what support they need and escalated if required
- welfare calls and email checks have been made to an additional 4,000 residents (category B) who we have identified as also being vulnerable
- our community helpline is open 7 days a week, 12 hours a day and the team is making over 150 checks per day
- working with the NHS to ensure patients have somewhere to live and a support network in place after leaving hospital
- local rough sleepers have been identified and placed into accommodation where possible
- assisting Voluntary Support North Surrey which has responded to over 500 requests for volunteers to assist with tasks e.g. shopping and prescription delivery
Food and welfare support
- over 1,000 Meals-on-Wheels are being delivered on a weekly basis to priority residents as well as additional frozen meals and sandwiches
- working alongside the borough’s local food banks who have distributed over 80,000 meals/food parcels since the crisis began
- offering both financial and equipment assistance to our food banks and community groups and brokering major donations and support from MacDonald’s, Primark, BP and London Irish
- Delivery of prescriptions to over 150 households in partnership with voluntary groups.
- providing a full rubbish/recycling collection service. Picture 54 Spelthorne waste trucks on top of each other and that is how much waste our crews have picked up in the last 2 weeks; 717 tonnes of domestic waste, 361 tonnes of recycling, 224 tonnes of garden waste and 108 tonnes of food waste and have also cleared away 77 fly tips
- our ground maintenance teams and street cleansing continue to ensure our parks, cemeteries and streets are maintained and stay clean and safe for the community to use
- all car parks apart from Elmsleigh and Tothill remain open and free parking has been introduced for NHS/Police and social care staff
- working with Surrey Police to ensure anti-social behaviour is being monitored and responded to
- community Safety teams and Enforcement Officers continue to operate across the Borough
- over £8m has been paid in business grants (as at end of 23/4/20 600 grants)
- offering help and advice to residents who are claiming benefits for the first time
- encouraging residents to contact us if they are having problems paying their Council Tax and other bills from the Council
- signposting residents, businesses and the self-employed to the support/grants which are available if they have suffered a loss in income
- the team has visited over 600 businesses to check they are adhering to the closure and social distancing guidelines
- helping residents who are being affected by neighbourhood noise and smoky bonfires
- the team continue to safeguard the public by carrying on with the licencing of taxis, houses in multiple occupation, and animal boarding establishments. They are also continuing to enforce food hygiene regulations within food retail premises
In this unprecedented time, it has never been more important for councils to communicate effectively with their community ensuring information is up to date, accurate and accessible.
- Frequent E-News Covid19 Bulletins with all the latest information and support details, register online at; www.spelthorne.gov.uk/enews
- posters and leaflets with advice on how to get support in the community distributed door to door to residents that have assisted waste collections, also available at foodbanks and shared with our charity partners, your elected Councillors , Residents Associations groups and on our community noticeboards
- daily updates on social media pages (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) , please follow these pages for the latest advice and matters of community interest
- videos from The Leader of the Council, Cllr Ian Harvey on Council activities and messages of support during the pandemic
- dedicated web pages for residents and businesses www.spelthorne.gov.uk/coronavirus
- regular verbal and written updates to all councillors in the Borough
“Our staff have been working hard around the clock to best meet the needs of our community, especially the most vulnerable. Many teams have been re-deployed and are doing a fantastic job in difficult times. We want to assure you that the Council will continue to work tirelessly to offer the essential services that residents in the Borough require. We are also immensely grateful to and proud of all NHS staff, care workers and key workers working on the frontline saving lives and making sure that essential services and care are being provided to those in need. We are also immensely heartened to see that residents are providing neighbourhood support, are assisting food banks and Voluntary Support North Surrey. While these are difficult times, the fact that our community is helping and supporting those in need shows how caring our Borough is.”
Cllr Ian Harvey
Leader of the Council, Conservatives
Cllr Sandra Dunn
Leader, Liberal Democrats Group
Cllr Jan Doerfel
Leader, Green Party Group
Cllr Veena Siva
Leader, Labour Party Group
Kwasi Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne, said: “I want to thank all the key workers across the Borough for the work that you continue to do as we get through this coronavirus pandemic together. I pay tribute to all those involved at the Council with establishing our community hub, ‘Support4Spelthorne’. For many this service will offer a lifeline of hope – ensuring we are reaching out to those must vulnerable in our Borough. Thank you to all the volunteers in Spelthorne, I am so proud to be the MP for Spelthorne. The level of support and generosity shown by people across the constituency wishing to help those self-isolating has been incredible.”
If you would like to volunteer, please visit www.spelthorne.gov.uk/volunteer