Dorset

Dorset schools plan to keep local provision going and continue to provide free school meals over Easter

Dorset For You - Thu, 04/02/2020 - 16:44

Dorset schools are working hard to stay open and will provide additional free school meal vouchers over Easter to help support families during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dorset Council has been working with schools to make sure vulnerable children and those whose parents are critical workers continue to be cared for over the school holiday.

The Department for Education (DfE) has asked schools across to stay open over Easter to help make sure key workers could still do their jobs. Schools are working together in local clusters to make sure children who need to go to school can. This may mean bringing children from several local schools together into one school depending on the number of children and the amount of staff cover.

Cllr Andrew Parry, portfolio holder for children, education and early help, said:

“Schools and childcare settings across Dorset have been brilliant and have really pulled together to support children and families in their local communities. They are working hard to provide childcare over the Easter holidays and we are very grateful. I know many school staff have children and loved ones to care for themselves, but are still committed to supporting their pupils during this time, so I’d like to thank them for everything they are doing.”

The council is also keen that families whose children normally receive free school meals continue to receive vouchers over the Easter holidays.

“We’re working with schools to make sure families whose children receive free school meals continue to do so over Easter. We know this is a difficult time for many families so want to make sure we continue to support them during the holidays too. I’d like to thank our schools for agreeing to help with this and we will make sure they are reimbursed for this additional support.”

Most schools are issuing vouchers to families who receive free school meals taking them right thorough the Easter break.

Individual schools are making plans for Easter provision and will share this information with parents.

More information is available on our website, including a list of childcare settings (such as nurseries and pre-schools) that are still open for children of key workers.

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Categories: Dorset

Living well with neighbours

Dorset For You - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 16:51

We are all spending much more time than we normally do within our home boundary due to Coronavirus.

This means we are spending more time with the people we live with and also those who live close by, our neighbours

Bonfires

With an enforced stay at home and a bout of good weather many people have been gardening. The council has had to close Tips (Household recycling centres) as part of the Governments clamp down on the Coronavirus so many people are turning to bonfires to remove the garden waste they have produced.

Grass is not suitable for burning due to its high-water content. You will need to dry it out if you want to burn it – you can do this by spreading it out thinly to dry in the sun. Instead, you can use grass clippings around veggies and plants to deter slugs and snails.

Bonfires can upset neighbours and cause breathing problems for those with underlying medical conditions or suffering from the virus. Also, Bonfires can get out of control quickly.

If you want to burn garden waste, try to let neighbours know (pop a note through the door) pick a quiet time of day where other people are less likely to be outside. Ensure you have the proper equipment.

If only dry garden waste is burnt, your bonfire should not cause a problem. Never burn household waste – this will pollute the air with harmful toxins.

Here’s some more advice

  • Site any bonfire well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.
  • Have a garden hose to hand in case the fire starts to get out of control.
  • Don’t light a bonfire on a windy day, as it could flare up more than you expect.
  • If you’re planning a substantial bonfire, stay with it at all times to ensure that it remains safe.
  • Never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin to start a bonfire.

There’s more information and how you can inform Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue if you are planning a large bonfire on their website

Composting

Leaves, grass cuttings, unwanted plants and clippings, twigs and pruned branches, tea bags and coffee grounds can all be turned into compost – which is great for your garden.

If composting, avoid grass cuttings turning into a stinky, black, slimy mess by mix it with prunings and shredded newspaper/cardboard. It shrinks down very quickly.

Grass cuttings will also naturally compost in its separate, open pile – for instance in a corner of your garden or the back of a flowerbed – and add to it as you mow your lawn. This will also be great habitat for grass snakes!

Noise

Many people are working at home so you should be considerate about the level of noise you create. Consider the impact you might have on your neighbours because of directed noisy activities or through party walls.

  • Reduce TV, gaming or music volume, in particular reduce the bass.
  • Consider the use of headphones if you wish to listen to high volume or music outside.
  • Think of the time you might carry out DIY in home, garden or on vehicles.
  • Do not allow your dog to excessively bark.
  • If children are playing outside consider time, length of time, and what they are doing.
  • Where music practice is occurring think of when that is in the day, and for how long.

Services

Environmental Health Officers are contactable via e-mail or telephone, although their ability to access emails and data files on the council’s network may be limited because they are working from home.

Please consider what you might be doing that may cause distress or upset.  Everyone is in the main confined to their homes this can cause stress, anguish and frustration.

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Categories: Dorset

Essential road surfacing works will restart

Dorset For You - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 16:32

To help keep life-saving medicine, equipment, supplies and key workers travelling safely across the county, road resurfacing works will be restarting.


Highways construction sites have been closed and programmes of planned repairs paused since Monday 23 March, when social distancing measures were introduced.

Following the Government’s guidance for construction activity – that it should continue where it fits with both the current Public Health England requirements and in accordance with industry safety guidance – Dorset Council will be restarting a programme of surfacing works from Wednesday 15 April.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “We are operating in unprecedented times. In collaboration with our private sector partner Hanson Contracting, we have adapted our ways of working so that we can not only adhere to highway works health and safety, but we can also ensure the safety of our workers and residents by sticking to social distancing guidelines.

“Our revised list of surfacing sites is made up of roads that pose a risk to the safe movement of essential goods and services due to their deteriorating condition.”

Taking into account the current reduction of traffic flows of between 50 to 60 per cent across Dorset Council’s road network, roads have been selected with the following in mind:

  • normally busy roads will be quieter
  • reduced school traffic and public transport
  • fewer pedestrians

Current traffic flows will also allow for extending working hours to reduce overall costs and the duration of works. The roads being resurfaced will be away from hospitals and emergency services to ensure access to these is not disrupted.

Additional safety measures are also being taken to ensure the health and safety of workers, including:

  • single person vehicle movements both to and from site
  • maintaining current social distancing requirements at all times
  • daily toolbox talks to share the latest safe working guidance and COVID-19 updates
  • daily health screening involving temperature checks and general well-being
  • no high-risk workers on site
  • revised working practices to reduce the number of staff on site while still maintaining health and safety standards when working on the highway
  • changes to site welfare, including additional toilet facilities and hygiene provision

Cllr Ray Bryan added: “We are working closely with other highway authorities across the south west and with industry bodies to share knowledge of new ways of working. One thing is very clear, this essential maintenance will only be carried out if it is safe to do so and the health of our workforce is included within that.

“Please be considerate to our workforce, they are working within the guidelines laid out by the Government for construction works, and we are proud to be able to contribute in these extraordinary times by ensuring the safety of Dorset’s key workers.”

Over the last three weeks, highways work has focussed on repairing safety defects and carrying out inspections – which are statutory activities to ensure the safe condition of roads, pavements and bridges.

Up to date information on planned road works across the Dorset area can be found online.

 

Roads scheduled for resurfacing

Dorchester Road, Upton – 15 April
two-way lights 9am to 4pm

A350, End Farm, Sturminster Marshall – 16 April
road closed from 9am to 4pm

Hogshill, Beaminster – 20 to 24 April
road closed 7pm to 6am

Fleet Street, Beaminster – 24 to 25 April
road closed 7pm to 6am

Tunnel Road, Beaminster – 27 to 30 April
road closed 8.30am to 5pm

Portland Road, Weymouth – 30 April to 5 May
convoy working 7pm to 6am

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Categories: Dorset

Businesses invited to access grant funding

Dorset For You - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 14:18

Eligible businesses in Dorset are invited to access grant funding which the Government announced recently.

The grants from central Government will be administered by Dorset Council to eligible businesses in the Dorset Council area.

There are two new grant funding schemes. First is the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and secondly the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). Full eligibility criteria is available on our website.

Councillor Gary Suttle, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Economic Growth and Skills, said:

“We hope this funding will offer some welcome relief to business owners during this very challenging time. I would appeal to all business owners, having checked their eligibility criteria on our website, to complete our e-form as soon as possible.  Our revenues and benefits team will be working very hard to process the grants and we will continue to lobby the Government for further support for Dorset.’’

To ensure the right businesses are supported correctly and no fraudulent claims are made, businesses are being asked to provide information via an e-form. In some cases, additional checks may be necessary to confirm eligibility.

For more information, please visit:  https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/business-grants

 

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Categories: Dorset

Keeping Dorset’s roads flowing

Dorset For You - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 14:01

Who is a Dorset Council key worker? There are too many job titles to list, but the general rule is if you see someone carrying out a frontline task it’s because it is essential.

Cars parked in an area with restrictions in place (single yellow line)

Our parking attendants play a vital role in keeping traffic moving – which is more important than ever as we continue to enable key workers, emergency services and essential goods to travel freely through our roads.

This is becoming increasingly challenging as we do our part and stay at home and cars compete for parking spaces on residential roads – some of which will have restrictions in place which should still be observed.

We also need to monitor that essential dedicated parking bays for disabled drivers, ambulances, police vehicles and loading/unloading are not abused by inconsiderate drivers, and that taxi ranks and bus stops are not blocked.

Our attendants also spend a lot of time helping the public with local information, directions and advice about other council services.

They are acting under guidelines from The Government and Public Health England. You can challenge a parking ticket online.

Please be more mindful of how you talk to our workers. Thank you.

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Categories: Dorset

Public rights of way and Covid-19

Dorset For You - Tue, 03/31/2020 - 15:43

Dorset has almost 3,000 miles of rights of way criss-crossing the county, giving access to the countryside via footpaths, bridleways, trailways and cycleways.

These provide a very useful resource for people under the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions to complete their one form of daily exercise, while social distancing. Maintained by Dorset Council and landowners, these paths should not be blocked or obstructed and cannot legally be closed to the public.

Many of these paths cross agricultural or forestry land. So, if you are using them be mindful of the restrictions, keep to the Rights of Way, ensure gates are closed, dogs are kept under close control and on leads where required and you clear up after your dog – taking your dog’s waste home with you to place into your household dustbin. Dog’s faeces can carry germs that are harmful to livestock.

Travel for  exercise is not essential travel and you should use paths that you can access from your home. Where rights of way pass close to, or through residential and agricultural properties, it is important that the existing Government advice regarding social distancing and hand washing is followed.

If there is a particular problem with people gathering on rights of way or cycleway/ walking trails, then the Police should be informed. They have the power to disperse any groups behaving in such a way.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“We are incredibly lucky to have easy access to miles of countryside. But please use with care. Always follow the countryside code and government guidance for coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Dorset Council is working with Dorset Police and other agencies to take any further actions necessary in the event of any changes to legislation or Government guidance, however, at this time there are no plans nor legal means to close public rights of way or the cycleway/ walking trail networks for COVID-19 related reasons.

View the rights of way map – whereto walk, ride and cycle

 

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Categories: Dorset

Syrian refugee families volunteer to help during Coronavirus outbreak

Dorset For You - Tue, 03/31/2020 - 12:19

During this uncertain time of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), it’s a comfort to know people want to help support our most vulnerable residents.

Over the last few days, Dorset Council has received heart-warming messages from Syrian refugee families who have settled in Dorset and now want to help their local communities during these difficult times.

Jenny Willoughby who works as a refugee resettlement programme officer for Dorset Council, said: “We are incredibly lucky to have an army of volunteers across Dorset who help Syrian refugee families to settle in to their new communities, make friends, go shopping, help with children, etc.

“And to see the Syrian families they once helped now want to give something back and help them in return is amazing.

“Many of our older volunteers will now be isolating or shielding –so the Syrian families offer of help is very welcomed.

One of the Syrian refugees, Walid, said: “My family and I took refuge in this beautiful country.  That is why I want to offer my services to help the community. I can help to deliver food and other essentials to vulnerable residents in my area.

“I strongly believe in the responsibility of citizens to help each other in crises.  May God protect this country.”

Dorset has welcomed 82 Syrian refugees as part of the national resettlement scheme in nine different locations across the county.  The most recent family arrived on 3 March. However, all resettlement is now suspended due to the coronavirus.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Portfolio Holder for Education, Children and Early Help at Dorset Council, said:

“This is a wonderful example of how helping others pays dividends to our communities later, with people coming together in this time of crisis. I think we all need a bit of this right now.”

Volunteers are needed across the county to help support the most vulnerable people during the crisis. Cllr Parry added:

“Many people will need extra support, like help with shopping, walking the dog, picking up prescriptions or just checking in with them to have a chat over the phone.

“We are encouraging people to join the growing band of brilliant volunteers, helping and supporting everyone across Dorset so that people can get through tough times together.”

If you want to help but are not sure where to start, register with the Dorset Volunteering Centre in the first instance.

#DorsetTogether

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Categories: Dorset

How is Dorset Council helping homeless people during the coronavirus outbreak?

Dorset For You - Tue, 03/31/2020 - 09:41

Find out what Dorset Council is doing to help people sleeping rough who are unable to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak.

Our housing officers have teamed up with partners including The Lantern Trust and Julian House to find accommodation for 24 people that we have identified as sleeping rough in the Dorset Council area.  

We have helped, or are in the process of helping, 14 individuals into accommodation, and we are making sure they get the support they need.  

Accommodation has also been found for the eight homeless people who were supported by the Bus Shelter project in Weymouth. 

Some rough sleepers have been offered accommodation but for personal reasons have refused the offer and wish to remain where they are for now.  

Housing officers and support workers will continue to work with these people and discuss alternative options.  

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Portfolio holder for housing at Dorset Council said:  

“I would like to thank all our partners, housing officers and local accommodation providers who have worked together to make this possible and provide safe and secure accommodation for our rough sleepers during this challenging time.” 

A couple of rough sleepers have been a bit more difficult to locate and speak to, but our officers have made contact and we understand that they do not want help or support at this time.   

Where possible well being checks will be made on these people. 

If you are aware of someone sleeping rough who is not being supported, please report this online at streetlink.org.uk 

If you think the person you are concerned about is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, please call 999.

More information about rough sleeping in Dorset. 

To stay up to date on this topic and get the latest Dorset Council news, sign up to our e-newsletters 

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Categories: Dorset

Waste services: Important new rubbish and recycling guidance for all Dorset residents

Dorset For You - Sun, 03/29/2020 - 18:43

As Dorset Council’s waste services begin to feel the pressure from coronavirus (COVID-19) employee absence and the need to introduce new safety measures to protect our workforce, we are asking residents to help us by changing the way they deal with their bins, litter and recycling.

Lower priority services such as bin deliveries and garden waste collections have now either been suspended or are on the verge of being halted. Therefore, due to these reduced staffing levels, we are now implementing the next stage of our plan to keep essential collections going.

  • We will no longer return to empty any missed bins until your next regular collection day. If your bins are missed, please bring them back in. Store your waste safely and put it out on your next appropriate collection day
  • We will pick up extra black bin rubbish only if your previous rubbish collection was missed. We will continue to pick up food waste weekly. You can also put out extra recycling provided it is separated correctly
  • Do not try to report missed collections to us. Visit our service disruption pages online to check if you are in an affected area
  • Remember to crush and flatten items (not glass) before throwing away, as this will help create space in your bins and our collection vehicles
  • Please continue to observe public health guidance on handling your waste. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, please double bag your waste and store for 72 hours before placing in your bin or blue sack. You should also wash your hands both before putting your bins out and after taking them back in
  • We recommend rinsing dirty rubbish and recycling items before placing in bins to reduce unpleasant odours.

As we have had to redeploy employees to higher-priority services, our street-cleansing, household recycling centres and recycling banks in car parks have also been suspended. Therefore: –

  • If you go out to exercise, take your litter home with you, especially dog waste. Street and dog bins are not being emptied on a regular basis. NEVER place household waste in a street litter bin
  • Do not travel to a household recycling centre (HRC, or ‘the tip’) or any recycling bank in a car park as these are all now closed and are no longer being serviced. Any items left at these sites will not be cleared away and will be considered as fly-tipping.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“We appreciate that these new measures will cause inconvenience and frustration for some people, but these are unprecedented times and the changes are vital. We need everyone to show patience and understanding and work together so we can keep collections going for as long as possible.

Thank you to everyone supporting our front-line employees by following our guidance. We will monitor how things are going and take further action if we need to. In the meantime, please stay at home and keep an eye on our webpages, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and local media for further updates.”

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset Council suspends charges in their car parks to support key workers and residents

Dorset For You - Sat, 03/28/2020 - 14:26

Dorset Council has taken the decision to suspend parking charges in its car parks across the county during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Following calls from the general public and Dorset’s elected members, the Council will no longer require payment for the use of any of its car parks that remain open at this time while public health measures are in place.

However, on-street parking charges and restrictions will remain in place in order to keep roads clear and traffic moving.

The decision to suspend off-street car park charges will help residents to park for free while residential roads are full of vehicles during the current “lockdown”. The aim is to get people not parking in the side roads whilst they are staying indoors, so they can move their cars from the road to the car parks.

By encouraging the movement of the cars from the street to these car parks we can provide better access for NHS workers, social carers and volunteers supporting the vulnerable in their communities. It will improve access for emergency and bin collection vehicles and provide options for residents who need to travel to buy essential food and groceries.

Beach car parks will remain closed for this weekend (28 and 29 March) but will re-open as free on Monday. However, Dorset Council will continue to ask people not to drive to tourist spots and/or congregate in groups in order to comply with public health guidance and not spread the virus.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“We have listened and taken action. This is a positive use of Council assets and by suspending charges in our car-parks we can support Dorset residents during these unprecedented times.

We can ensure those who are on the front-line delivering vital services have parking options, and we can help keep traffic moving while residential roads are full of parked cars.

However, it is still important that people heed central government advice to stay at home and only travel when it is essential. Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home). If outside, ensure you stay 2 metres away from others.”

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Categories: Dorset

Co-ordinated community response – Update

Dorset For You - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 16:41

Dorset Council residents continue to support those most vulnerable in their local community during the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

Work continues with several key voluntary organisations to support our local communities’ efforts in response to the outbreak.

Volunteering guidance in Lockdown
On Monday 23 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lock down in all non-essential travel. Following official guidance from Government, Volunteer Centre Dorset have issued the following advice after consulting with their national body NVCO “volunteers responding to the COVID-19 crisis would be regarded as essential support services, and could continue to do what they have been.”

Safeguarding  when delivering food

Dorset Council are working with colleagues at Public Health Dorset and have produced some simple but important tips for volunteers when delivering food to vulnerable residents.

This can also be downloaded from our Community Response webpage.

 

Funding to support our communities’ efforts
71 grant funds have been made available to support local community groups.

In addition to this our local Dorset Community Foundation have launched their own Community Fund for those who would like to make a donation or want to apply for funding. Dorset Community Foundation will also be administering the National Emergencies Trust – Coronavirus – Funding for Dorset. They will be working with officers at Dorset Council to ensure the funding is shared fairly across the Dorset Council (and BCP) areas. More information on this will be shared once funding becomes available.

What’s going on in our communities?
The Dorset Council Community Response webpage includes a link to Help and Kindness who are recording all of the community actions to identify any gaps and share good practice.

Pharmacy delivery of prescriptions procedure and advice from Public Health Dorset
Public Health Dorset has been working with Volunteer Centre Dorset and community pharmacies (through Dorset’s Local Pharmacy Committee) to put in place a system of matching willing volunteers with community pharmacies who have a need to deliver medications to people who are self-isolating.  The system went live across Dorset and BCP council areas on 25 March and volunteers have already started to be placed with local pharmacies.  If there is a need for pharmacies to adjust the number of volunteers they have in their team, then they are able to request further volunteers over time. There is an expected initial flurry of activity over the coming days as pharmacies make their requests and volunteers are matched.

Further to this, Dorset Council are issuing good-practice guidance, both for the volunteers who are delivering medication, and for the pharmacies working with those volunteers.

Services funded by Dorset Council that support people with issues with alcohol or other drugs have been trying to alter prescriptions and get people their medication directly so that they can practise social distancing and not have to go to the pharmacy so often, when these services are already under huge pressure.  Dorset Council staff and vehicles have been redeployed to support this effort, meaning that nurses and other treatment staff can concentrate on directly supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.  One nurse described the drivers as a ‘Godsend’, saying the service ‘couldn’t do this without them’.
People can volunteer to help in their local communities here

Volunteer update
At the time of writing, over 620 volunteers have registered their availability with Volunteer Centre Dorset (VCD) and also 105 organisations have registered specifically for the community response for COVID-19. The VCD team are busy matching volunteers to vacancies and working with the pharmacies to deliver prescriptions.
Register with Volunteer Centre Dorset.

Age UK North, South and West Dorset update
Age UK North, South and West Dorset are fully up and running (now working remotely) taking 200 calls per day from isolated people and are directly supporting in signposting to the right agencies and are linking in with our Adult Social Care teams for those that identify with care requirements.
Contact information can be found on the Dorset Council Community Response webpage.

Official isolation posters
Two self-isolation posters have been made available stating the household is self-isolating or has an immune disorder. They do not identify if the person is alone or vulnerable. Residents are encouraged, where possible, to use these and not use any unofficial ones which may identify people living alone or sensitive data.

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health said: “ The response within the community has been outstanding. I would like to encourage those who are well and willing, to register with Volunteer Centre Dorset to further support the efforts in their local community.

“There are a number of resources available on our Community Response webpage which includes information on safeguarding, how to access support for yourself or for loved ones, contact information for queries on foodbanks as well as information on access to funding available for community groups”.

You can find more information on how to access support, registering your interest to volunteer and also guidance for those who are currently volunteering on the Dorset Council Co-ordinated Community Response web page.

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Categories: Dorset

Exercise close to home

Dorset For You - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 16:04

Dorset Police and Dorset Council are asking people not to drive to a beach, park or local beauty spot this weekend to stop people congregating and not observing social distancing.

Last weekend saw record numbers at beaches and parks around the country and the agencies are keen for there not to be a repeat this weekend.

Cllr Gary Suttle, Dorset Council Portfolio holder for Economic Growth and Skills, said:

“Following our recent video on facebook and twitter I want to stress to all our residents and potential visitors I ask you to please, please, do not come to Dorset this weekend, please don’t go out to our numerous beauty spots.

“Even if you feel well now you could be carrying the virus.  We all want to enjoy Dorset in our futures please do not take that opportunity away from yourselves and your loved ones”.

Beach and harbour car parks will be closed to everyone but existing permit or season ticket holders.and the Police will intervene with all gatherings of more than two people in public.

The advice is to stay home and exercise from there.

List of closed car parks

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Categories: Dorset

Shielding Dorset’s vulnerable residents from Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Dorset For You - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 14:44

Find out what’s happening in Dorset to protect people who are at most risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Vulnerable people in Dorset will have recently received a letter from the NHS, telling them they are at high risk of catching coronavirus and advising them to stay at home and strictly self-isolate for 12 weeks.

Community Shield

We know that living under such restrictions will cause concern for people who do not have any nearby support, and we want to give reassurance to any Dorset residents who this may be affecting.

We are rapidly putting plans in place with our partners from across public, voluntary and community and charity sectors to give you the help you need.

A Dorset COVID-19 Response Hub has been set to help people:

  • have enough food, basic household items and access any necessary medication
  • continue to receive support from our help and support services in a safe way
  • feel supported and know how to access help 

I am staying at home because of coronavirus. How do I get help?

If you have been identified as someone at high risk, you should follow the advice given in the letter you received from the NHS. You should talk to family, friends or your support network to see if they can help you get food and medicine.

Central Government is sharing information with us about people who have registered as extremely vulnerable because they do not have anyone close by who can help them. We will be making direct contact with these people very soon.  

Dorset Council’s COVID–19 Response Hub

If you don’t have family, friends or a support network that can help you get the things you need, the response hub has a dedicated helpline that can provide additional help and information.

From Monday 30 March, you can call 01305 221022, 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.

Alternatively, you can email communityresponse@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk.

Dorset Council portfolio holder for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr Laura Miller said:

“We are doing our very best to make sure that those people who are identified as extremely vulnerable because of the coronavirus will be fully supported.

“If you, or someone you know, is vulnerable because they are self-isolating and cannot get access to food or medicine, they have care needs or are at risk of loneliness and isolation call the helpline and trained staff can help you get the things you need.”

If you do not receive a letter from the NHS but still need help and support to get essential supplies, you can find more information on volunteer organisations on our website www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/coronavirus or by contacting Age UK on enquiries@ageuknswd.org.uk or 01305 269444. You can also register to volunteer on the website.

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Categories: Dorset

Digital champions ready to help

Dorset For You - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 14:38

If you’re feeling a bit lost in this new digital-only world, help is on hand from the Dorset Digital Hotline.  

You may have a computer but are struggling to use the myriad of technology available. 

From Monday 30 March the new helpline will be available from 10am to midday each weekday – with no question too small. 

Do you need help to use eConsult to reach your doctor’s surgery, or wonder whether video conferencing, like Skype, could keep you in touch with your grandchildren?  Are you working out how to work from home, or how to use online computer resources to help your children learn? 

Dorset Council’s digital champions – a group of volunteers mostly made up of retired IT professionals – are ready to take your call and help, from advice on video conference calls to setting up a new computer application, and more! They’re being supported by some of Dorset Council’s staff too. 

Councillor Gary Suttle, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Skills said: “We recognise it’s more important than ever for everyone to be able to connect to family and digital services through technology, but for some Dorset residents this may seem like a daunting task. 

“There are a multitude of forums online and it’s confusing knowing where to start, and we know it’s often easier to speak to a real live person! 

“Our digital champions would normally be holding sessions in libraries and community centres so it seems natural to continue providing this IT support service, but over the phone.” 

Anyone can call the Dorset Digital Hotline with an IT question on 01305 221048. A team member will take outline details of the help you need and then direct your call to the best advisor available.   

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Categories: Dorset

Garden Waste kerbside bin collections suspended

Dorset For You - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 11:31

From the end of Friday 27 March, Dorset Council waste services (previously known as the Dorset Waste Partnership) will be suspending all Garden Waste kerbside collections.

We have had to suspend this service until further notice to prioritise rubbish, food waste and recycling collections during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As this is a subscription service that we are currently unable to deliver, we don’t expect our customers to lose out financially. We will work out how subscribers are compensated for collections they did not receive during this disruption period and contact them directly when services eventually return to normal.

The Garden Waste team have also suspended new subscriptions to the service.

With household recycling centres currently closed, Dorset residents are being asked to: –

  • Reduce or stop producing garden waste for as long as possible, including cutting grass and trimming hedges
  • Store your garden waste safely until services resume
  • Not place garden waste in your other household waste bins
  • Please consider home composting – Dorset Council works with getcomposting.com to provide composting bins from as little as £19 (+P&P) and there are many other retailers online still delivering compost bins.

Residents are also being politely asked not to burn their waste. Those lighting bonfires are respectfully requested to consider their neighbours, who may be suffering from the virus, recovering, or have underlying medical conditions as smoke may exacerbate their problems and cause complications in their recovery.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“The suspension of our Garden Waste service is regrettable, but anticipated and planned for. It is necessary to protect the other kinds of collections we need to provide, especially at this time when we expect household waste levels to rise as everybody stays at home.

Please help us help you. Keep hold of your garden waste or home compost until the coronavirus public health guidance is relaxed. Do not burn it. Do not dump it elsewhere as this is fly-tipping and is illegal.

We all need to play our part in coping with the current restrictions to our usual routines and dealing with your waste responsibly is a major part of that. Thank you for your co-operation.”

More information on home composting can be found at on our webpage.

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Categories: Dorset

Difficulty Paying your Council Tax?

Dorset For You - Thu, 03/26/2020 - 16:05

Tell us if your financial circumstances have changed

If your financial circumstances have changed over recent weeks which means you may have difficulty paying your council tax, please contact us:

Our Council Tax team will discuss your particular circumstances with you and find the best solution for you. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer – our advisers will suggest the best solution for each individual or household, depending on the circumstances.

The volume of calls to our teams has increased at this time. We will answer your call as quickly as we can. Please email your enquiry if you are unable to hold.

Council Tax Hardship Fund

Help has been made available for the most vulnerable residents struggling to pay their Council tax as part of the Government’s £500m Covid-19 Hardship Fund. £2.6m has been allocated to Dorset Council.

We will be able to provide further Council Tax relief via this scheme. Government has made it clear that additional funding is to firstly allow working age residents who already receive Council Tax support to receive a further discount of up to £150.

Cllr Tony Ferrari, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercial and Assets at Dorset Council, said:

“Those who will benefit initially don’t need to do anything, we will issue revised bills for them as soon as we can.

“Our revenues and benefits team are working with partners to understand who will benefit and how much they will receive. Then we will consider how to make relief available to others in hardship with what is left of our allocation.”

What if there are remaining funds?

Any remaining funds will be allocated to the most in need throughout the financial year. We are working on amendments to existing policy to enable us to correctly administer these funds to support our most vulnerable customers.

If you think you may qualify for council tax support  or call us to discuss your circumstances.

Why can’t you cancel Council Tax payments during the outbreak? 

 Your Council Tax pays for our essential services that are – now more than ever – vitally important to Dorset’s most vulnerable people and a whole range of different services that still need to be paid for. You are helping to support the Police and Fire Service as well as Dorset Council and town and parish councils. Without the income from council tax we cannot pay for vital services. Many, if not all, services would grind to a halt. Bin collections, social care and support to vulnerable children would all be severely impacted

But we appreciate that people may be struggling so do make sure you get in contact with us and that you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. We want to support you as much as we can during this challenging time.

Universal Credit

Council Tax Support 

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Categories: Dorset

Highways scheduled work is paused

Dorset For You - Wed, 03/25/2020 - 11:07

From Wednesday 25 March Dorset Highways will focus on delivering its priority services.

Our workforce is on standby to provide support to other council services. We are uniquely situated across the council area with a fleet of vehicles to help with deliveries, and workforce qualified to drive many different types of equipment and vehicles.

Programmed works

We are closing down our current work sites – removing any traffic management that is not required in our absence and checking any signing.

All highway improvement schemes and any bridge or road maintenance activities are now paused for at least three weeks.

We know how beneficial it would be to get work done while roads are quieter. We are working closely with our partners and supply chain investigating how some maintenance work could be delivered – where it is safe to do so – after this initial three-week pause.

In Swanage, Institute Road was reopened to traffic at 2pm on Tuesday 24 March. The temporary signals on High Street have been removed and Kings Road East has returned to its normal one-way flow out of town. Stafford Road has reopened to two-way traffic.

In Gillingham, the temporary pedestrian signals have been removed and a temporary refuge island has been installed. The three-way temporary lights at Wyke Street have been switched off and the junction is operating off the permanent signals.

Regular inspections will be carried out at all our closed sites to ensure they remain safe.

Routine works

We will continue to provide winter maintenance (until 30 April) and respond to 24hr callouts for highway emergencies and high-risk safety defects. This includes attending as required for collisions and carrying out emergency repairs to roads, bridges and footways.

While roads are quieter, we will make the best use of available workforce to continue carrying out pothole repairs. We will also continue to inspect our busiest roads for defects, however our response times may take longer in light of the current situation.

Our traffic team will continue to co-ordinate work on our roads to keep our online map up to date with what work is continuing and which works are cancelled/rescheduled.

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Categories: Dorset

Enforcement of Government regulations relating to food businesses

Dorset For You - Wed, 03/25/2020 - 10:42

We’ve been receiving enquiries on food businesses which are continuing to operate and want to clarify the following:

  • All restaurants, pubs and café’s should be closed.
  • But businesses can – and are – looking to diversify into take away and delivery services, and this is being supported by central government and we have produced guidance to Dorset Food businesses on how to do this safely taking account of food hygiene and public health guidance on Covid-19.
  • It has been made clear that takeaway services must not allow people to communally sit at the premises to consume the food purchased.
  • We are awaiting further guidance on the enforcement of this under new emergency Covid powers.
  • Any members of the public who are concerned that food businesses are not complying should contact the Food Safety team on 01305 251010 or envhealthteamb@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

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Categories: Dorset

Recycling centre closures and bin collections during coronavirus: How you can help us

Dorset For You - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 10:12

After Prime Minister Johnson’s announcement last night (Monday 23 March), Dorset Council has closed all its household recycling centres (HRCs, or ‘the tip’) until further notice in order to comply with the latest central government guidance on staying at home and away from others.

However, your normal kerbside bin collections will continue to take place for the time being. We have already issued information on how we’re planning to ensure this essential service remains in place.

With people staying at home all day during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, household waste levels are expected to increase. We are reminding people that we have limited capacity in our collection vehicles and at our waste transfer stations, and so we need Dorset residents to help.

Right now, there are certain measures everyone can take to reduce pressure on the kerbside collection service and keep people safe: –

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus, make sure you double-bag your waste (especially tissues and cleaning cloths) and store it safely for 72 hours before placing it in your usual black wheelie bin or authorised blue sack
  • Do not create excess waste you’d usually need to take to an HRC. This includes gardening (unless you home-compost), large DIY jobs or house clearances. If you do have excess waste, keep it stored safely until the HRCs reopen. Do not hand your rubbish to an unlicensed waste carrier for disposal
  • Continue to keep rubbish and recycling separated. Check out our Right Stuff Right Bin webpage
  • Try to minimise the amount of waste your household produces. We have advice on our Slim Your Bins webpage
  • Create more space in your recycling bin by squashing/flattening plastic, aluminium and cardboard items. You should not however compress rubbish in black bags, your black wheelie bin or authorised blue sack. Please do not squash waste down into your bin after you’ve put it in there as this can prevent it falling out during the emptying process
  • Do not put your glass box out for collection until it is full
  • Park responsibly. More people staying at home has obviously led to more cars parked on residential streets, creating problems for our drivers who cannot access some roads. Make sure you leave enough room for our larger vehicles to pass and turn safely
  • If your collection has been missed, please check our service disruption page on the coronavirus section of the Dorset Council website before reporting. You will find service updates and instructions on what to do with your bins there.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“We understand that the closure of our household recycling centres will place pressure on our kerbside services, but we have to follow central government public health measures. Visits to HRCs are not covered in the list of reasons for people to leave their homes.

We want to keep our usual kerbside waste collections going for as long as possible, but we’re anticipating challenges in resourcing this service as the coronavirus situation continues and are prepared to make changes if the system starts to strain. To help avoid this, Dorset residents should recycle correctly, minimise the waste they produce and observe health guidance if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Help us to help you.

I want to thank everyone for playing their part in helping us keep these vital services going and to our front-line workers who are working hard to ensure everyone’s waste continues to be dealt with safely and responsibly.”

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Categories: Dorset

Recycling centre restrictions introduced amid coronavirus (COVID-19) situation

Dorset For You - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 17:07

Dorset Council and its contractors W&S Recycling have worked closely to bring in several new measures at its household recycling centres (HRCs, or ‘the tip’) aimed at tackling the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The restrictions come amid an increased number of visitors to the Council’s ten sites over the weekend, apparently ignoring central government advice for people to avoid unnecessary travel and public places, and to keep their distance from others.

Site employees have reported an increase in garden waste being dropped off – most likely due to lots of people gardening in the improving weather – as well as waste linked to DIY work and house clearances.

The measures below have now been put in place and are designed to keep the HRCs open while reducing the risk of infection to site staff and visitors: –

  • All reuse areas are now closed
  • The amount of available assistance given by site staff in unloading waste or helping carry items will be reduced
  • Only contactless payments will be accepted for chargeable items. No cash will be accepted.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“We understand that people need to keep busy while they are self-isolating at home and/or observing social distancing guidance, including gardening, DIY jobs or just having a clear-out.

Advice from central government is clear – avoid all non-essential travel and public places. This includes journeys to your local household recycling centre.

If you are producing excess waste that cannot be placed in your rubbish and recycling bins, we strongly advise that you keep hold of that waste, and reduce any journeys to your household recycling centre until the current coronavirus (COVID-19) public health guidance is relaxed.

We have a responsibility to protect our contracted employees and other members of the public to ensure their safety. If visitor numbers continue to increase, and/or staffing levels are reduced, we may be forced to introduce further measures.”

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Categories: Dorset

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