Covid-19
This note provides an update on the information posted on this blog yesterday (24.3.20).

Key messages for today

  • From Monday, March 30, home to school transport will be suspended until further notice across the county borough.
  • The impact of coronavirus has affected our planning and building control services. The Planning Committee scheduled for April has been cancelled.
  • Our public footpaths remain open, but users must adhere to social distancing.
  • Gas servicing of council houses will continue across the county borough.
  • We’re still getting reports of people using our play areas. Please don’t use them.
  • Call volumes to council phone numbers are extremely high – please contact us by phone only when it’s essential. This means we can provide a quick response to people who really need it.
  • To help workers providing critical services for the public (e.g. health, social care, supermarkets, banks) we’re suspending from today all charging in all of our public car parks. We also hope this supports people who need to do essential food shopping.
  • The suspension of charging in our car parks is only to support those going about delivering critical services and doing essential food shopping. People should not be travelling or leaving their homes unless it’s in line with the Government’s instructions.
Ian Bancroft – Chief Executive
Mark Pritchard – Leader of the Council

Please remember. You can now only leave your home for the following, very limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

Please continue to keep your distance from one another. By staying apart, we’re saving lives, and helping to keep Wrexham as safe as it can be.

We’ve put together the following information to help you understand the latest changes to council services.

Schools

School transport

As you know, schools in Wrexham have been providing places for the children of ‘key workers’, as well as children registered as vulnerable.

From Monday, March 30, home to school transport will be suspended until further notice across the county borough.

This is to reduce non-essential travel and to ensure social distancing of children.

The take-up of home to school transport has been extremely low this week, which has also contributed to the decision.

SEN (Special Education Needs) home to school transport will continue for children travelling to their usual facilities.

Free school meals

We’re working hard to put in place measures to provide free school meals to children who aren’t in school at the moment.

This is a huge challenge for councils across Wales and we’re looking into using some of our own premises to distribute ‘grab and go’ food bags which contain a packed lunch.

We can produce sufficient numbers, we just need to find the most effective distribution method. We don’t want to crowd schools or create unnecessary gatherings, so will need to plan carefully.

We hope to have something up and running by Friday and will communicate this to schools and on our social media channels as soon as possible.

We’re also waiting for advice on the national voucher scheme, which is being explored by Welsh Government.

GET THE LATEST COVID-19 INFORMATION FROM PUBLIC HEALTH WALES

Planning services

The impact of coronavirus has placed significant strain on our planning and building control services.

The Planning Committee scheduled for April has been cancelled.

It may take us longer to respond to correspondence, and newly submitted applications and enquiries will experience a delay in registration.

There will also be some delay in issuing decision notices. This is likely to be up to three weeks or more.

Also, the Planning Inspectorate has indicated that all hearings and enquiries – including site visits – have been cancelled until further notice.

If you’re an existing customer, local councillor or community council, and have a query or require an update on your planning proposals, please try and submit this by email directly to the relevant officer.

Any applications, enquiries or correspondence received during this period will nevertheless be considered in due course.

Public footpaths

Our Public Rights of Way network remains open, but this may change if areas are identified where groups of people are congregating and actively ignoring measures set out by the Government.

We’re asking everyone to stick to social distancing and use their local routes, rather then travel to the countryside unnecessarily.

Many footpaths and bridleways cross private land, working farms and in some cases are close to private homes. Please keep to the paths, keep your distance from landowners and continue to follow the restrictions and measures which are in place to protect you and others.

All path closure notices will be published online and notices posted on site under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Closure of Leisure Businesses, Footpaths and Access Land) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

Housing tenants

Gas servicing of council houses

Gas servicing will continue across the county borough for our housing tenants.

This is a legal obligation and helps to ensure people’s safety.

Tenants will receive a phone call prior to any visit to discuss, and precautions will be taken in line with Government guidelines.

Play areas

All council-managed play areas have been shut since the start of this week to support social distancing.

Despite this, we’re still getting reports of people using them. Please don’t. Our play areas are shut and the Government has made it clear that people should only be leaving their homes for very limited purposes.

It’s difficult to physically close some play areas off, but where possible we’ll be taking measures to try and secure them.

Car parks

To support workers providing critical services for the public (e.g. health, social care, supermarkets, banks) we’re suspending from today all charging in all of our public car parks.

We also hope this supports people who need to do essential shopping.

This suspension of charging in our car parks is only to support those going about delivering critical services and doing essential food shopping.

People should not be travelling or leaving their homes unless it’s in line with the Government’s instructions.

Reminder – critical services only

We’re only providing critical council services now. These are things we’ve identified as absolutely crucial to our communities and the running of the council.

They include social services, advice on housing benefits, sheltered accommodation, schools (currently open to children of key workers and vulnerable children only), emptying bins, homelessness and other things that people depend on.

The virus will continue to impact on our workforce, but we’re making plans to ensure we can continue to deliver these services.

Call volumes to council phone numbers are extremely high – please contact us by phone only when it’s essential. This means we can provide a quick response to people who really need it.

This is even more important as people with underlying health conditions receive letters over the next few days, and need to contact us for support.

Reminder – people with underlying health conditions

As we mentioned yesterday, the Government is sending letters to people across the UK with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19.

The letters will advise people to stay at home and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks.

If you receive one of these letters and you don’t have any friends, relatives or neighbours who can deliver food and medicine for you, or you can’t order your food online, the letter will tell you to contact us using a phone number provided.

If you need to call us, rest assured that we’re working hard with partners to put in place measures that will enable us to help you.

Reminder – reliable sources of information about Covid-19

Latest information on the virus and what people should do about it is provided by:

Can you help as a volunteer?

You can register as a potential volunteer to help staff delivering front-line services and to support community befriending.

AVOW (Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham) is encouraging people to sign-up.

This is a rapidly changing situation, so we will issue further information as and when appropriate.

Read the most up-to-date information about Covid-19.

LATEST INFO ON COVID-19

Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) – public briefing note 24.3.20