Covid-19 Communities update - Monday, 29 June 2020

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Monday, 29 June 2020

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Reopening plans will build on lockdown innovation

Cambridgeshire County Council has outlined plans to begin re-opening Libraries and Archives from 4 July - in a safe, well managed way to ensure safety of visitors and staff - but wants to build on innovation developed during lockdown. 

A report which goes to the council’s Communities and Partnerships Committee this Thursday (2 July) confirms a massive additional take-up of digital library services since the lockdown began with resources issued more than tripling to 40,000 a month, and a large increase of use in social media channels.

To support our shielded community, our library service, in partnership with Cambridgeshire Skills, City College Peterborough and Civic, designed and delivered a new website, ‘Open New Doors’, which provides a variety of activities, experiences and learning opportunities, and an expanded Libraries at Home service has also been delivering books to the doorsteps of the most vulnerable.

This experience and the tremendous uptake of the online offer means the Library service will look to expand by developing a business case for a bus sized vehicle which will take technology and assets into more isolated communities, giving  them access to more services, support and opportunities – usually only available from a library building.

From 4 July, nine libraries will begin to re-open by offering a new ‘Select and Collect’ service where books can be chosen in advance and collected at pre-booked times. To combat digital exclusion, libraries will also begin offer public access IT services based on 45-minute pre-booked appointments, with machines being cleaned between each user.

Mobile libraries won’t be able restart immediately because of problems in maintaining social distancing in such small spaces.

Archives will also begin to reopen from July on an appointments only basis to begin with, and all documents must be pre-booked to ensure safety and to minimise risk.

For more details please see the Communities and Partnerships Agenda here  

Councils and schools support Armed Forces Week

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough residents and local schoolchildren showed their appreciation for men and women who are serving, or have served, in the military, to mark Armed Forces Week (22-27 June). 

Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council and Cambridge City Council are among the signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant, a commitment from the public and private organisations to support the active and retired Armed Forces community.

Armed Forces Week is a chance to show support for currently serving troops, including reservists, as well as veterans, cadets and their families. Each day of Armed Forces Week saw different parts of the military highlighted, culminating in the 12th annual Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 27 June.

During the week the Armed Forces Day flag was raised ‘virtually’ across the county. Councillor Mac McGuire, Chairman of the Armed Forces Covenant Board in Cambridgeshire provided his thoughts in a video and Peterborough City Council organised a short virtual service.

Schools across the region, such as Castle Camps C of E Primary School in Cambridge, were keen to show their support for our service personnel, with several creating their own video montages, encouraging us all to #SaluteOurForces. Watch their fantastic and poignant video.

Videos were shared on the County Council’s and Peterborough City Council’s Facebook and Twitter accounts last week.

You can view Peterborough City Council’s short virtual service here.

All three councils will be organising events in August to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day and the end of World War Two and announcements on those will be made nearer the time.

Parking enforcement in Cambridge

From this week (Monday 29 June), parking restrictions in Cambridge will return to normal. 

At the start of the lockdown in March, Cambridgeshire County Council in partnership with Cambridge City Council, worked together to suspend parking enforcement in Cambridge. By relaxing the rules, the aim was to help critical workers – largely the only ones out and about - park where ever they needed to.

Now, as lockdown is gradually eased, our town, villages and cities are opening up again. There are more people getting out and about, so all parking restrictions in Cambridge will go back to how they operated previously,  helping the city economy to recover.

This doesn’t affect the free parking permit scheme for the critical care workers who can still park their vehicles in all Resident Permit Parking Areas and on-street Pay and Display bays in Cambridge City, whilst carrying out essential duties, without having to worry about cost or time restrictions. For more information on this, visit our website.

In Peterborough, all council owned car parks remain free of charge until 13 July.

Schools invited to join safety improvement scheme

Schools in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are being invited to join a new initiative aimed at creating a safe space outside their gates which encourages pupils to use active transport and maintain social distancing.

Following government funding aimed at encouraging cycling and walking, Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council have written to all schools inviting them to take part in the ‘School Streets’ scheme.

By creating a school street, schools can temporarily close a road outside their entrance, enabling it to become a pedestrian and cycle/scoot zone during the school’s opening and closing times.

This will also help to implement social distancing and encourage active travel, with the added benefit of reducing congestion and pollution at the school gates and improving safety for children on their way to and from school.

If adopted, the council will work to support school street schemes under a temporary traffic regulation order for up to 18 months.

Once a school street is in place, cones and signs will be put across the road to prevent vehicle accessing the area during school drop-off and pick-up time periods. The closure will need to be put up and taken down on a daily basis and will not apply at weekends and during school holidays. Access will be maintained for emergency vehicles.

Schools will need to put forward volunteers to help run the scheme and the council will provide full training and resources free of charge. The scheme will then be owned and operated by the school community, with support from the council.

Anglian Water joins forces with Community Foundations

In April, Anglian Water launched plans to establish a new £1 million community support fund to provide a cash boost for local communities to help fight the impacts of Coronavirus.

Over £50,000 of the cash has already been fast-tracked to front line organisations in the immediate response to battle the pandemic. Just a matter of weeks later, the company has revealed how the rest of the funding will be distributed to those who need it most. Anglian Water is working with 15 Community Foundations to allocate its £1million Positive Difference Fund. Community Foundations has extensive local expertise in getting money quickly to areas where it is most needed and has been working tirelessly in the response to the pandemic.

Half of the fund is being made available immediately, with the remaining half released later in the year to meet emerging needs from the fallout from the pandemic. Eligible organisations will be able to apply to their local Community Foundation for grants of up to £5,000.

The money will help local charitable organisations deal with emerging issues in the community as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus. Organisations like food banks, outreach programmes and those helping the most vulnerable can ask for support from the Positive Difference Fund via the Community Foundations to help those shielding or suffering from financial hardship, homelessness, loneliness and isolation.

Other support, available from Anglian Water’s Extra Care offering, includes discounted tariffs alongside affordable payment plans. More than 300,000 customers each year are already helped this way.

The water company also helps customers identify if they may be eligible for benefits they are not claiming. Anglian Water has already signposted customers to a potential £4.5m of unclaimed aid, with the average amount that customers may be entitled to far outweighing the cost of the average water bill.

It is also adding customers to its Priority Services Register faster than ever before, meaning they will get tailored help and special assistance should they need it.

Further information, eligibility criteria and how to apply for a grant from the Positive Difference Fund can be found here.

Leader’s vlogs

Councillor Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council have recorded separate vlogs for residents across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Councillor Steve Count talks about the countywide co-ordination hubs 100-day anniversary, people who have been self-isolating will no longer need to shield from 1 August and the new lockdown measures from 4 July. Watch his vlog here

Councillor John Holdich talks about the Honours Panel, three new schools being built in the city and the 90 day notice period that Vivacity have served. Watch his vlog here

Sharing Communities Updates

You are welcome to share this Communities Update by forwarding the email to people in your community, who can also subscribe to receive updates from Cambridgeshire County Council by registering and selecting ‘Communities Updates’ from the list under Covid-19.  We are asking City councillors to forward this update to their local residents associations.