This week, the Government introduced the ‘rule of six’ to target the rise in coronavirus cases in the country. This new restriction means that social gatherings, inside or outside the home, should not exceed six people. It is really important that we all play our role and follow the Government’s guidance, including washing our hands regularly, wearing a face mask in enclosed spaces; and staying at least two metres apart or one metre with a face covering or other precautions. To keep up to date with the latest guidance and news, please sign up to our email newsletter atwww.chichester.gov.uk/newsalerts
As part of our drive to help residents keep fit and healthy and improve their wellbeing, our Chichester Wellbeing team is offering free online and telephone support. They have a whole variety of services, including helping people to reduce their alcohol intake; a service that helps you to quit smoking; and, weight loss workshops. These services all link with the Government’s Better Health Campaign, to help people improve their health and protect them from serious illness, including coronavirus. If you would like to find out more, please call 01243 521041 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the summer, it has been great to see people supporting their local shops, restaurants and businesses – and it’s vital that we all continue to do so. In some cases we’ve seen businesses expand and grow, and this includes some of the businesses in our Old Bakery arcade in Petworth. Owned by the council, it is currently home to a shoe repairer, as well as charities and an energy company. Two existing businesses are moving into bigger premises within the arcade, while new tenants include a deli and charity organisation. This is really positive news and we’ll be telling you more about this in the coming weeks. We all have a role to play in helping our businesses get back on their feet and thrive once again and so please do all you can to support our local businesses.
If you own a business, there is still plenty of support available – you may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants. The Government has created a business support finder tool to help you identify support that may be available to help you www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finderAs a council we have also launched a £250,000 business recovery grants scheme. You can apply online at www.chichester.gov.uk/bsuinesssupportadvice until Friday 18 September.
I’m pleased to tell you that we have expanded our Council Tax Hardship scheme to help more people who are struggling financially as a result of coronavirus. In March, we received just over £699,000 of Government funding to help people who were experiencing financial hardship to pay their council tax. This meant that every working age person already receiving the council’s own Council Tax Reduction support, automatically received £150 or an equivalent amount if the balance of their account was less than £150 for the year 2020-21. All new Council Tax Reduction recipients who are eligible will also receive £150 for the 2020-21 financial year, subject to funding being available. This support has now been extended to pension-age recipients of Council Tax Reduction and all council tax payers that are financially vulnerable as a result of the pandemic. We understand that this is a difficult time for many people and so I would urge anyone who is struggling with payments to apply for Council Tax Reduction. This is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings. If you think you may be eligible, please visit our website for further details and to apply at: www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and are still having difficulties paying your bills, you can now apply for this new support by filling in the Discretionary Council Tax Reduction application form at: www.chichester.gov.uk/benefitforms
Although our council offices are currently closed to the public, we are still here to help. Our services can be accessed anytime, anywhere atwww.chichester.gov.uk If you can’t find what you are looking for, you can email us at email@example.com You can also reach us on the phone between 9am and 5pm weekdays on 01243 785166. The majority of our staff who are based at East Pallant House are now working half of their time in the office and half of their time at home. This is so that we can maintain social distancing measures and follow Government guidelines. You can find the latest Government advice at www.gov.uk/coronavirus
The Green Volunteers are in the village again this coming Saturday, 12th September, this time to work along the upper stretch of High Path, between Hollist Lane and Dodsley Grove.
Last week along the A272 we only saw 2 village volunteers join the fun, which was really disappointing and doesn’t bode well for the future of this incredibly valuable collaboration. Without more help from within the village we can’t guarantee that more Easebourne dates will be added to the busy Green Volunteers schedule.
PLEASE consider joining this group of friendly volunteers who really make a difference to our Parish. It’s light work, for no more than 2 hours, on a Saturday or a Tuesday, somewhere in Midhurst or Easebourne – the full schedule is always on the Midhurst Green Volunteers Website. All tools are provided, just bring along some gloves and if you’re lucky free drinks and cakes are available at the end of the task!
So this Saturday, let’s show how much we care about our village and support this amazing team of volunteers! Meet at the end of Hollist Lane at the top of High Path from 8am! Spread the word!
It has been wonderful to see so many of you return to libraries since we reopened last week during our temporary opening hours. On the first Monday alone, over 4,000 items were borrowed (and some libraries weren’t even open until the following day!) You can add to that number by having up to 20 items on your library card at a time.
The return of access to IT has also proved popular. If computers and printing are services you need to use, take a look at our customer charter for Computer Use. In particular:
Staff are unable to support you on the computers… but there may be someone who can help! Find out more below.
Computer help from afar
Due to social distancing guidelines, library staff are currently unable to offer support to customers who are using our library computers and printing facilities.
However, did you know that a fantastic team of Digital Volunteers has been helping residents behind the scenes during lockdown? If you need support with a basic digital query, either from home or in the library during your pre-booked computer session, we can arrange for a volunteer to give you remote help via telephone.
We will need to set up your appointment with a Digital Volunteer in advance, so please get in contact at least three days prior to your library booking.
Thank you for your support during our reopening week
We want to say a really big thank you to all customers who helped us in our first week of being open for browsing. Our ‘new normal’ involves doing things quite differently, so your patience and understanding is appreciated as we all become familiar with these new ways of working.
If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, it will really help library staff if you carry an exemption badge or card. You can download these for free. Please do not be offended when we check with you (and we will check every time you visit, to help keep everyone in the library safe).
Public Health guidance is for all of us to wash our hands or use sanitiser regularly, and we are asking all library visitors to use sanitiser on arrival. Library staff will be available to show you where the sanitiser station is. Please help us keep everyone in the library safe by using this on your way in.
All councils are supporting the voluntary NHS Test and Trace service. When you arrive at the library, staff will show you where the Test and Trace station is so you can leave your contact details if you choose to. Information provided will be kept for 21 days and then destroyed. It will only be shared with the NHS Test and Trace service.
Latest news from the Summer Reading Challenge
It’s been fantastic to see the enthusiasm of families visiting their local library this past week, able to browse and choose their own books at last.
It’s not too late if your children want to join the Summer Reading Challenge; you can even pick up a Silly Squad wallet and stickers to take away with your books. We also now have medals and certificates, so if your children have been sharing stories for Silly Squad, celebrate their achievements by asking for one of each at your local library. Watch our Silly Squad video to find out more.
Sadly we can’t engage in those lovely conversations with the children about their books this year, but we can at least offer our congratulations to all those who have been enjoying reading over the summer. What a boost it will give them to start back at school with a medal and certificate to show for all their reading!
Join us on Lesley Pearse’s online book tour
We have some exciting news… We’ll be hosting bestselling author Lesley Pearse on her forthcoming virtual tour in September!
We are delighted that readers across West Sussex will have the opportunity to hear Lesley talk all about her amazing career and new book, Liar. The event will take place over Zoom and you’ll even be able to submit questions.
Details of how to apply for a ticket will be shared soon. For now, keep 7.00pm on Thursday 17 September free so that you can be ready to pour yourself a cuppa and tune in for an entertaining evening with one of our best-loved authors.
Tom Palmer talks football and libraries
Have you read any of Tom Palmer’s books? We have access to three inspiring videos that this popular children’s author has kindly produced for libraries.
He talks about how his love of football and reading developed, later influencing him as a writer. There are games and quizzes to play, too!
We shared Tom’s first video in our Facebook Family Corner at the weekend. Do take a look and keep an eye out for the other two – coming soon. It seems his achievements are all down to his mum (and his local library of course)!
The archives are open again for business
After months of being closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, West Sussex Record Office in Chichester has reopened its doors to the public.
The Searchroom is open two days a week for pre-booked appointments only, with the aim of increasing opening hours over time. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays there will be slots available either in the morning (9.30am-12.00pm) or afternoon (2.00pm-4.30pm).
Over the past few weeks, staff have been preparing to deliver a service that will be safe for visitors and have been looking forward to welcoming you back.
The Record Office has also launched the new Archives Card and visitors will need to obtain one if they wish to view original documents and maps. To arrange an appointment and find out how to obtain an Archives Card, please email the Record Office.
Keeping in touch
You can connect with us on social media if you have any questions or comments.
Over the last few weeks I have been asking my Cabinet colleagues to take over this space to explain how our council is planning to help the district recover from the coronavirus crisis. Each column has looked at the different headings of our recovery plan, which was agreed last month. I hope that you have found this information useful – I will of course update you regularly on how the plan is progressing.
I am pleased that applications for our new business and community grants schemes are now open. These schemes are a key part of our council’s recovery plan and I urge businesses and community groups across the district to find out if they are eligible. They can check eligibility and apply on our website:www.chichester.gov.uk/grants
Our Pop Up Shop Initiative is now back up and running, with the current tenants Dylan’s Ice Cream and Coco Baby open at their premises in Crane Street, Chichester. Unfortunately the first pop up launched just before the lockdown started, but I am pleased that they are now open for the next few weeks and I would encourage you to visit and support them. The Pop Up Shop Initiative offers short-term opportunities for fledgling businesses who want to pilot a high street location, and the next round of leases will be open soon. So, if you know someone who would be interested, please let them know and encourage them to keep an eye out as we will be promoting the next round of opportunities in the autumn.
We have more positive economic news, this time in Petworth where over the next couple of months we will have some new businesses starting up in our council–owned premises in The Old Bakery. Meanwhile, other businesses are expanding and taking on larger units in the arcade, which shows that there is confidence in the local economy. These businesses are hoping to be open by the end of October.
You may not be aware, but as part of the recovery phase the Government recently changed legislation to temporarily allow district and borough councils to issue pavement licences to businesses who want to place tables and chairs outside. This is to help boost business now that the hospitality sector has opened up again. I am very pleased to say that we have so far issued three licences to restaurants in Chichester. I hope this has gone some way to support them and enable them to serve more customers.
It was recently announced that since the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was launched, 35 million meals have been claimed for. We only have a few days of the scheme left, so if you haven’t managed to do so yet, do consider supporting a local eatery that is taking part and play your part in helping them on the road to recovery. You can find out which local businesses are taking part atwww.gov.uk/guidance/get-a-discount-with-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme
I really hope that the scheme has been a support to our local businesses and I also urge people to continue to support their local eateries once this scheme ends, as this will do a lot to help secure jobs and protect the local economy.
Following the summer break, our council meetings will resume from September. As was the case before the holiday period, these meetings will continue to take place online via our website, and can be viewed in real time by going to www.chichester.gov.uk/viewcouncilmeetings
As we are now in the last week of the school holidays, I want to take this opportunity to remind you that The Novium Museum and Chichester Tourist Information Centre is open again from Tuesday to Saturday, 11am – 4pm. Admission remains free of charge, with donations gratefully accepted, and tickets can be pre-booked online at www.thenovium.org. If you are looking for something to do this week, then the museum has a wealth of fascinating exhibitions and displays, including its headline Mystery Warrior exhibition which tells the amazing story of the North Bersted Man. Because of the pandemic, this exhibition has now been extended until 17 April 2021. The museum also has some wonderful virtual exhibitions, which you can find at www.thenovium.org
I also want to say huge congratulations to the museum team after The Novium Museum was one of just 18 applicants to receive an Art Fund Respond and Reimagine grant. This will be used to develop a series of innovative virtual field trips for schools.
Finally, as we head into the autumn and our children and grandchildren start back at school, we don’t know what will happen regarding coronavirus — things are still very uncertain. What is certain though, is that we all need to continue following the latest Government advice. This includes wearing face coverings where it is obligatory, washing our hands properly, and following social distancing rules. We should also be isolating ourselves and getting tested if we have any coronavirus symptoms. By doing this and being sensible with our interactions with other people, we can help protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
The winner of Easebourne’s first-ever quarterly Community Star award is resident Stephanie Goodfellow.
Stephanie, who has lived in the village for nearly 25 years, won the award for her wonderful support of Easebourne and the wider Midhurst community during lockdown. A member of the Midhurst Angels, she ran the volunteer pharmacy delivery team, working closely with the three local pharmacies, who made sure residents self-isolating across the area could continue to get their prescriptions. Stephanie also befriended a number of residents, doing their shopping, delivering treats and making sure they didn’t face isolation throughout lockdown.
The Easebourne Community Star awards have been introduced by the Parish Council to recognise exceptional contribution of residents to the Parish. The award will be given quarterly, with the next nominations to be put forward at the end of September.
Parish Councillors, the school and Church will all put forward candidates but the award committee also welcomes nominations from any resident. If you want to nominate someone please email the Parish Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Noble, Chairman of the Easebourne Parish Council, commented: “We introduced the awards as a way of recognising some of the incredible efforts of people around the Parish who are making a difference to our community. I’m delighted to present the first award to Stephanie – it seemed only fitting that a Midhurst Angel should receive it after over three months of dedicated community support throughout lockdown.”
Stephanie Goodfellow said: I’m really proud to have the work we did recognised. Receiving the award makes me want to do more for our community.”
In the photo: Mike Noble socially-distanced presents Stephanie Goodfellow with her award certificate.
Big thank you for helping us keep West Sussex Safe. We still need everyone to play their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
One of the key elements to understanding where the virus is in the county, is to make sure that if you develop any symptoms you get tested.
Testing is FREE and simple to organise. Visit NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) or call 119. They will let you know where your nearest testing centre is. Don’t forget tests are only available with a pre-booked appointment. Alternatively if you are unable to travel they can arrange to send a test kit to your home.
If you have received a positive COVID-19 test result, then you should immediately self-isolate by staying at home for at least ten days from when your symptoms started. All other household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
You’ll be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you test positive for coronavirus. You’ll be asked where you’ve been recently and who you’ve been in close contact with. This is essential to help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you and will help isolate any cases to keep the rate of infection low.
Running a business that’s open to the public? You may find our template to record contact details useful. Download our printable version from our website