Added June 3rd 2020
Use public transport safely says Council
For those who need to use public transport to make essential journeys, the advice is to check all the latest Government guidance to stay safe and protect others.
That's the message from Buckinghamshire Council to residents following the Government's publication of its latest advice on walking, cycling, travelling in vehicles and using all forms of public transport during the on-going pandemic https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#walking-and-cycling
Residents are still recommended to keep travel to a minimum by working at home wherever possible or, where this simply isn't an option, to travel by car or better still, cycle or walk.
However, the clear national message remains that for those who have no alternative to public transport, it's vital they understand the steps to take to maintain their own safety, that of others and to help reduce demand on transport networks.
The council is also working closely with operators to help get the messages out locally, make social distancing adjustments to facilities and improving information provision.
In particular, the council suggests:
When planning your journey:
Plan ahead and use a direct route.
Travel during off peak times if you are able.
Take hand sanitiser and a face covering, if you can.
If you require assistance, you should continue to request this as you normally would.
Wash or sanitise your hands at the beginning of your journey and as soon as possible when the journey is completed.
When making your journey:
Maintain a 2m distance where possible
Use a face covering if you can, particularly when you will be close to others
Use contactless payment where possible
Be patient and follow instructions from the driver
Wash or sanitise your hands as frequently as possible at all times throughout the day.
With over 2000 bus stops and shelters across the county, the Council also says it's difficult to install physical social distancing measures at every one. Instead, passengers are asked to queue safely, leaving a 2m gap wherever possible. Signage will also be installed at some shelters with higher footfall.
And then, when on the bus, people should spread out as far as possible and follow any directions from the driver.
One site where social distancing is more difficult is Aylesbury bus station due to its layout within an enclosed space and smaller boarding areas. The Council is therefore publishing information so people can consider catching or getting off the bus at a nearby stop if they are able.This will make it easier and safer for those who do need to use the bus station itself and is a good way to keep up that daily exercise!
Maps and information will be displayed so people know where the alternative stops are around Aylesbury town centre.
Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Logistics, David Martin said everything was being done to make bus travel as safe as possible. "Many Buckinghamshire residents rely on their local buses as they have no alternative way of making essential journeys during this pandemic, so we are doing whatever we realistically can to help them to do this safely."
David added, "We're working closely with all our local bus operators to make things as easy as possible for people whilst maintaining their safety and protection. These changes are going to be with us for months to come, so I would ask people to consider what best works for them in the longer term and to be patient and considerate towards fellow travellers and drivers."
For further information about bus travel across Buckinghamshire, please visit - https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/transport-and-roads/buses-and-trains/service-disruption-and-stop-closures/ You can also follow us on Twitter @bucksbuses
Added May 27th 2020
Traffic control measures allow last four Bucks recycling centres to reopen this Friday
Four Buckinghamshire household recycling centres that have remained closed since the coronavirus lockdown was enforced are set to reopen this week with traffic measures in place to manage queues at busy times.
The sites at Aylesbury (Rabans Lane), Burnham, Chesham and Langley will reopen on Friday 29 May, which will mean that from that date all nine of the county's recycling centres will once again be open. Residents still need to carefully consider whether their trip is essential and only visit these sites if they cannot store their waste or dispose of it in another responsible way. These four sites will resume their normal summer opening times, that's 9am to 6pm. Langley is open seven days a week and the other three sites are open every day except Wednesday and Thursday.
The number of people allowed to visit any site at one time has to be limited to ensure social distancing, so queues will build up during busy times. In the case of the four sites that are set to reopen on Friday, the local road layout means queues would be likely to affect the flow of traffic near the sites and potentially be a safety risk to other road users. To alleviate this, traffic control measures are being put in place by Transport for Buckinghamshire around each site:
Aylesbury (Rabans Lane) - Temporary parking restrictions will be in force on Rabans Close to stop queues blocking the road
Burnham - Residents can only access the site via Walton Lane. When exiting the site residents must use Crow Piece Lane or Allerds Road. Diversion signs will be in place.
Chesham - Temporary stop/go traffic management will be in place on Latimer Road to keep traffic flowing. If the site is full, residents should visit at a quieter time. Please do not queue on Latimer Road.
Langley - Residents can only access the site from north end of Trenches Lane. There is no access to the site from the B470 (Langley Park Road). Diversion signs will be in place.
Residents are asked:
Carefully consider whether the trip is essential. Only visit if the waste cannot be stored or disposed of via a registered waste contractor.
Bring proof of address. Only Buckinghamshire residents will be allowed entry, though Burnham and Langley sites will also admit residents of Slough, who must also bring proof of address.
Check waiting times online to avoid busiest times.
Don't arrive before the sites open - a queue makes it difficult for site staff to get to work and open on time.
Remember social distancing measures are now in place, which also means no assistance for unloading can be provided.
Don't bring a trailer. The permit system is still in place, but trailers will not be accepted at any site.
That only one person gets out of the vehicle whilst on site.
Remember that non-household waste will be charged for in the usual way.
Bill Chapple OBE, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Environment & Climate Change, said: "I'm really pleased to announce the reopening of the remaining four of our household recycling centres this Friday (29 May), giving residents more options if they have waste that really can't be stored for the time being.
"I thank people who have been visiting the five sites already open for their care in observing the social distancing measures. Part of this is that we can only allow a few people to be inside the site at any one time, so there are queues at busy times. With the four sites reopening this Friday, the road layout near each sites means that queues would cause traffic problems, so we're bringing in traffic controls to help prevent this. I would ask for people's patience with these new controls, which are there to make it easier and safer for both recycling centre visitors and others using these roads."
Road plans of the traffic control measures at each site can be found on the Buckinghamshire Council website: www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/waste-and-recycling/household-recycling-centres
For further information on all waste services, please visit the Council's website - https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/coronavirus-waste-services-all-districts/
Council urges people to exercise safely as tennis courts and basketball courts open
Following the recently updated coronavirus guidance from Government, tennis courts and multi use games areas across some of Buckinghamshire’s parks are open for people to use for outdoor exercise from Friday (22 May).
While people are now able to exercise more than once a day and make use of facilities like tennis courts and multi-use games areas, Buckinghamshire Council is reminding people to continue to keep more than 2 metres apart, be considerate of others and exercise safely.
In line with the updated advice, the council is keen to ensure people are able to do outdoor physical activity for the purpose of health and wellbeing with some clear guidance and restrictions on how to do this safely.
Facilities in parks like children’s play areas and outdoor gyms will remain closed to maintain social distancing and limit the spread of the virus.
Tennis courts and multi use game areas will be open for public use from today with posters advising people how they should be used:
A maximum of one household at a time or two people from different households
Keep a 2 metre distance from people not in your household
Use your own equipment
Keep your hands clean
Only meet one other person outside of your household for one on one games
Help keep our parks clean and take your litter home
Be considerate of others in sharing the facilities
Cabinet member for Sports and Leisure, Clive Harriss, says: “The health and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority and we’re doing our best to make sure our parks and sports courts are available for people to exercise safely. It’s up to all of us to make sure that we continue to do our bit and limit the spread of the virus as much as possible – so please remember to keep your distance, only use the courts with your household or one other person from outside your household and be considerate of others in our parks.”
To find out where your local park is and what facilities they have please visit: https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/outdoor-game-areas/
Added May 20th 2020
FUNDING DURING COVID-19
The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 has meant many fundraising events and appeals have been cancelled or postponed resulting in charities and small organisations having to find alternative ways to generate awareness, attract new donors, and raise money during the pandemic.
When you spot a suitable funding opportunity, move quickly or you could miss out. We’re sharing a reminder in today’s briefing about two grant funds from Buckinghamshire Council which we know are being spent rapidly – if you think you’re eligible and you haven’t applied yet, get your applications in soon.
Have a look at the funding opportunities below as well as our funding support guidance and, if you have launched a fundraising appeal, let us know and we’ll share it on our Bucks fundraising appeals page and promote it on social media: email email@example.com.
WEBINAR ON EMERGENCY FINANCE OPTIONS
Good Finance is hosting a webinar on 27th May to discuss new emergency finance options available for social enterprises and charities. This webinar will discuss the range of repayable finance options available, including the Government’s Bounce Back Loans, the new Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund, as well as other options available for VCSE organisations. To register for the webinar, click here
Giving Day is an innovative one day (24 hours) fundraising programme allowing supporters to engage and unite in fun and unique challenges virtually rather than at a physical location. Any competitive activity is welcome, fitness apps can be used to help connect supporters with how the challenges are progressing.
Blackbaud and Just Giving have teamed up to offer a toolkit to help you launch your Giving Day, including creating fully branded microsites which allow you to create and launch online appeals to promote and publicise your virtual event. To find out more about creating your own Giving Day, go to Blackbaurd’s virtual fundraising.
#FundAlert: BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNCILLOR'S FUND
Set up from the 16 Community Boards to allow councillors to support their local voluntary and community groups where it is needed the most, Buckinghamshire Council’s coronavirus Councillor Fund is still open though you are encouraged to apply now before funding is used up.
Groups and charities can apply for grants of up to £2000 to meet the needs of vulnerable residents affected by the COVID-19 crisis. All applications must be made through your local councillor and will take around four working days to turnaround. Some suggestions as to how the funds might be used include:
Purchase of food and/or other essential items for individuals and families who are self-isolating and in financial difficulty
Community transport initiatives to support local deliveries
Set and communication of local support and delivery schemes
Online initiatives to reduce social isolation and/or increase community cohesion.
This emergency fund of £250k is split between the 16 areas to ensure consistency and a fair distribution.
#FundAlert: SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY BUILDINGS AND OTHER SMALL CHARITY RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE SPACES
In our COVID-19 Briefing #21, we highlighted that the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant has provision to support charities including village halls and community buildings. We are hearing that some village halls in the county have received grants through this fund and would highly recommend other community buildings and eligible charity retail, hospitality and leisure spaces apply quickly as there is cap on how much total grant funding is available to Buckinghamshire.
You can apply directly to Buckinghamshire Council via their website. When completing the online application form we suggest you include your charity rates number, in place of a business rates account number.
Spike in doorstep crime as lockdown is eased
Heartless doorstep criminals have scammed an elderly Buckinghamshire resident out of £20,000 for spurious roof repairs while his wife was in hospital being treated for Covid-19.
Two cold-callers, offering to clean gutters for £15, ended up relieving the resident of thousands after telling him his roof tiles needed urgent attention. A family member raised the alarm when the scammers asked for another £20,000.
This was one of three scams reported in Buckinghamshire as coronavirus lockdown rules were relaxed over the past week, representing a spike in doorstep crime from reports over the last two months.
And it has prompted fresh warnings from Trading Standards officers to residents, their neighbours and families, to be wary of cold calling and to report anything suspicious.
In another incident, doorstep callers conned a resident out of £50,000 for "fixing" a loose chimney and other roof work that didn't need doing. The resident's bank raised an alert over the amount being withdrawn from the account.
A third incident involved two cold callers who said they were exempt from lockdown restrictions. Fortunately, the resident didn’t like their attitude and sent them packing.
"That's exactly what we should be doing to these cowboys - send them away," said Fred Wilson, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services.. "I'm urging residents to be very, very wary about responding to cold-callers on the doorstep.
"These rogues target the elderly or vulnerable and pressure them to start work immediately," explained Fred. "Once they've started the price rockets and they clear off once they've been paid, leaving the work half done and the resident bewildered and traumatised.
"Our Trading Standards officers work hard to catch these criminals, and fortunately we have ears and eyes of a fantastic number of people in our Street Associations around the county who look out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours, watching out for scammers. I'd encourage everyone to keep a weather eye at this time.”
As communities emerge from lockdown and the weather improves, Trading Standards anticipates an increase in rogue trader fraud on the doorstep, especially targeting vulnerable residents who may be maintaining social distancing.
Fred said Trading Standards' advice was always to say "No thank you – please leave" and then close the door. Where there is concern about possible danger, he advised calling the police on 101 or, in an emergency, dialling 999. Trading Standards can be reached via the Citizens' Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.
For work that needs doing, Trading Standards recommends residents use a legitimate business such as those listed at the Trading Standards-approved trader scheme www.traders4u.co.uk
Top tips to avoid getting tricked out of your money:
Be sceptical, don’t be afraid to shut the door.
Take your time, don’t be rushed.
Know who you’re dealing with, if you need help talk to someone you know or get in touch with the council.
Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know.
Never engage with someone or allow them access to your home unless you are able to verify their authenticity and who they are.
The three doorstep crime reports are being urgently investigated by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards with Thames Valley Police.
In the past two years Trading Standards have investigated 120 reports of doorstep crimes across Buckinghamshire.
Added May 13th 2020
Neighbourhood Watch groups have been in the vanguard of community responses to the COVID-19 crisis, through their own efforts and by working with others in their communities. John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, said: “Neighbours looking out for each other is key to building strong and resilient communities which help to prevent crime, and the COVID-19 emergency has highlighted this more than ever. Our members have been testing the new website for several weeks and report that it has helped them focus on actions that make a difference locally by sharing learning and resources”.
The new website provides toolkits on domestic abuse and scams that have increased in prevalence during the pandemic, as well as information on preventing and reporting burglary, child sexual exploitation, serious violence and terrorism. There are also guides to tackling loneliness and vulnerability, and advice on CCTV usage, disability crime, vehicle crime and hate crime. An ‘Inspiration’ section demonstrates the wide variety of work undertaken by Neighbourhood Watch volunteers, including running awareness campaigns; organising litter picks; establishing community cafés; responding to floods; and delivering presentations in schools. Neighbourhood Watch is a grassroots movement with over two million supporters across England and Wales. The movement works in partnership with the Police, the Home Office, corporate partners and other voluntary organisations to prevent crime, strengthen local community links and keep people safe. Key facts are:
Neighbourhood Watch is the largest voluntary movement focused on crime prevention in England and Wales. Over 2.3 million people belong to local schemes which are supported by voluntary Associations.
Neighbourhood Watch Network is an independent charity which acts as the national umbrella organisation for the movement.
Membership of Neighbourhood Watch schemes is open to all and is free although donations may be requested by local groups.
Neighbourhood Watch’s website address is www.ourwatch.org.uk
For local information please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An extra helping hand for those receiving council tax reduction
Buckinghamshire Council is giving extra help to working age council taxpayers who receive a reduction to their council tax.
These customers will receive an extra reduction in their council tax bill of up to £150. If the original council tax charge was £150 or less then the council tax charge will be reduced to zero. If it was more than £150 then it will be reduced by £150.
Revised council tax bills are being sent out over the next week to those council taxpayers who will receive the extra help.
Cllr Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, said: “Council tax pays for many essential services such as care for our most vulnerable adults and children, waste and recycling, and roads, as well as police and fire services. The coronavirus crisis has added to our costs as we work to support our residents and businesses.
“With so much uncertainty surrounding what the future holds, this reduction means one less concern for residents on lower incomes.”
Cllr Tett added: “For those residents who can afford to pay their council tax, your ongoing payments mean we can continue to provide regular services as well as the additional support as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
“If you do not qualify for the reduction but are experiencing difficulty, you can contact us to discuss payments options.”
The contact details are:
Aylesbury area: Phone: 01296 585299
Chiltern area: email@example.com Phone: 01494 732077
South Bucks area: SBDCCtax.firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 01895 837500
Wycombe area: email@example.com Phone: 01494 412226