Rising to the challenge

Councils are demonstrating their role as leaders of place by stepping up to the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 brings.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, councils have been adapting and prioritising their work to ensure vital local services continue and vulnerable residents are not left isolated.

Here, we highlight just some of the initiatives taken in the first few weeks of this unprecedented public health emergency. Please send us examples of your work and good practice so we can share them with other councils, by emailing coronavirus.enquiries@local.gov.uk

Waste

South Ribble Borough Council issued guidance for residents to change the way waste is handled at properties where possible cases of coronavirus have been identified. It advised that, where possible, household waste must be put in a plastic rubbish bag, tied when full, then placed in a second bin bag and tied. No waste should be put in any bin less than three days before the bin is due to be collected.

Volunteers

Many councils have been working with local partners to coordinate the work of volunteers.

The London Borough of Bexley and Bexley Voluntary Service Council are working together to support residents who are able to give their time to support vulnerable people. Local residents can register to help charities, community groups and people who need assistance, through a volunteering scheme.

Enfield Stands Together, coordinated by Enfield Council and Enfield Voluntary action, has brought together key local partners – the NHS, Enfield Carers Centre, Age UK, Citizens Advice, and many more – to help residents volunteer and register for extra help.

Transport and parking

Charges in all public car parks run by Hart District Council have been suspended until the end of June. The council will maintain parking enforcement services to ensure people continue to park properly, but it will not issue any new or replacement residents’ parking permits during this period.

The West of England Combined Authority has extended the hours when concessionary bus passes can be used, so residents can visit supermarkets opening just for older people or those with a disability for the first hour of their business day.

Cultural services

Hampshire County Council is encouraging its residents to read and access its wide range of digital content through their phones, tablets and computers. The council has released more content on Borrowbox – the free app that has hundreds of audiobooks and e-books for children and adults.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s culture and leisure venues, along with libraries, have been closed to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Library books can be renewed online, but any library fines incurred as a result of these closures will be waived.

Similarly, any fines for overdue library materials and overdue notifications have been suspended by Gloucestershire County Council. Expiry dates for library cards will be extended so that users can continue to access online materials.

Trading standards

Trading standards officers at North Yorkshire County Council are encouraging family and friends to help protect residents from potential scams during the coronavirus outbreak. They are offering free call blockers to residents who are victims of phone frauds.

Lancashire County Council has warned suppliers and retailers not to seek to profit from the coronavirus outbreak, after reports about some companies setting excessively high prices for protective items such as face masks, as well as other sanitisation and safety goods. It is working closely with the Competition and Markets Authority to monitor the situation and take action to address consumer protection issues.

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