Councils and COVID-19: Their Response – Edition #14

June 26, 2020   By Charlotte Morgan, Senior Policy Researcher, NLGN

22/6/20 – 26/6/20

Local authorities are indispensable in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. They manage the public services that people are increasingly reliant on, support the most vulnerable people in our communities, and hold information that keeps local people safe and informed. In this time of great uncertainty, councils have taken new, radical and innovative steps to deal with the crisis and protect their residents. We’ve brought together some of those in a series of blogs over the last 13 weeks.

Next week will be our final #CouncilsRespond edition. If you’d like to submit a case study, please contact Charlotte Morgan – cmorgan@newlocal.org.uk/ @cmorgan_9.

Supporting residents

Bury Council is working on a borough-wide summer school programme that will offer opportunities for learning as well as provide vital emotional and practical support to children and young people.

Wigan Council set up an online remembrance book for people to share stories about loved-ones who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Additional funding

Croydon Council and partners launched a new fund to support independent creatives in the borough. It will offer freelance artists, performers, musicians and other creative practitioners in Croydon grants of up to £1,000 and business support to help them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting businesses

West Lindsey District Council partnered with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to offer a heavily discounted one-year membership to businesses in the area. This will allow businesses to access the FSB’s information and advice services to help them re-open and respond to any challenges they face caused by COVID-19.

To support high street recovery, Kent County Council is waiving fees that allow cafes, restaurants and bars to place furniture outside their premises until the end of July. Businesses that have already paid the fees will have an extra six weeks added to their licence so that they do not lose out.

Norwich City Council is reducing fees for a table and chairs licence by 50 per cent until 31st December. The council’s Licensing Team is also offering a free bespoke advice service to help businesses know which licensing applications might need to be made to use outside spaces and how to make them.

Reigate & Banstead Council is asking high street businesses to display a sticker or poster in their window to confirm compliance with the Government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 and reassure local shoppers.

Newark & Sherwood District Council is working with local businesses to ensure the safe reopening of the local economy. A strong community feel has been achieved through the use of volunteers to support businesses and shoppers alike to safely open and access the towns, ensure compliance with safety rules, and support the reopening of the retail and hospitality sectors. The council is also leading on the promotion of a shop local and shop safe scheme to encourage local economic prosperity.

Preparing for relaxation of lockdown

Gateshead Council launched a survey to ask residents how their circumstances have changed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. People have until 31st July to submit responses, which will be analysed as the council develops its Recovery Strategy over the coming months. The council intends to repeat the survey at regular intervals to ensure that any changes to public feeling are considered.

Liverpool City Council approved a locally-made protective screen for taxis and private hire vehicles that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The screens have been designed so that passengers can still communicate with the driver and pay the fare through a special ‘letterbox’.

Waltham Forest Council launched a new ‘Cycle the Lines’ scheme in partnership with Cycle Confident. The scheme offers free instructor-led ‘bike train’ rides from Waltham Forest into central London to encourage residents, commuters and students to use their bicycles rather than the tube.

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