Good Morning Wednesfield -Its Friday and the end of the working week is coming. Here is a Post on what the City of Wolverhampton has done, and been involved with as we tackle this awful World Wide Corona Virus.
How we are linking with neighbouring authorities in this crisis
During this crisis, Wolverhampton is working in close partnership with neighbouring local authorities and other agency partners to coordinate our response. Wolverhampton has a representative on a West Midlands Local Authority Strategic Group with representatives from six neighbouring authorities. This group meets daily (virtually) feeding into a regional Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) which includes representatives from partner organisations such as West Midlands Police, local NHS trusts, West Midlands Ambulance Service, and West Midlands Fire Service. The regional SCG links directly with the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR), providing a clear communication line with central government.
City Fibre workers are considered Key Workers
Following queries regarding whether the work to lay high speed fibre broadband on the streets of Wolverhampton will continue, we can confirm that the telcoms workers undertaking this are considered to be key workers under current government guidance. As such this work will continue with workers following the government’s social distancing guidelines.
City Fibre have been awarded the contract to deliver the Local Full Fibre Network connecting 170 public sector buildings across Wolverhampton. The network build is due to start in April. Current Government guidance considers network build part of the nation’s critical infrastructure with digital infrastructure playing a significant role in the current response to COVID-19, hence why they are considered as Key Workers.
News from the Food Distribution Hub
The emergency Food Distribution Hub at Aldersley Leisure Village is expecting its first food delivery today. The infrastructure is now in place and training of redeployed council staff will take place.
Helpline for vulnerable residents
On Thursday I informed about the letters that the City Council are mailing out to 28,500 of the city’s high risk vulnerable residents. As well as self-shielding advice mirroring that issued by Government, the letter includes instructions for how to access an emergency hotline that the City Council are coordinating. This will operate a number of pathways to ensure that vulnerable residents have access to the support they need, particularly with accessing basic food provision, shopping and medicines.
Council staff, redeployed from services that have been closed or scaled back, will triage the call and follow pathways agreed with Wolverhampton Voluntary Services Council (WVSC), who will coordinate volunteers and support requests. The hotline went live today following yesterday’s dispatch of the first letters. Over 60 council staff have now received training, and over 270 local volunteers have registered to help through Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Community’s website since Friday. The helpline can be contacted through the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org
The link to WVSC’s website where volunteers can register their desire to help can be found at www.wolverhamptonvsc.org.uk/covid19.
Clamping down on profiteers and rogue traders
Yesterday evening (Wednesday 25 March), Councillor Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment, appeared via video link on BBC Midlands Today to discuss steps the council will take over businesses who are profiteering by inflating prices of essential products, such as toilet roll and hand sanitiser.
Today, 1.5% of children who would normally attend were in school. We continue to work closely with schools and other settings to ensure the right children are attending, including those we have identified as vulnerable and those who have an EHC plan. Almost all of our schools continue to remain open to eligible pupils, and parents/guardians of children who are eligible for free school meals have now received much clearer guidance on how this will be provided.
Update on business support
A media release was distributed today regarding the letters and emails that we will be sending to the thousands of city businesses that are eligible to receive grants from the Government’s Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. The first batch of letters and emails will be sent today, detailing how eligible businesses can apply online for the following:
• small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, and have a rateable value of £15,000 or less; or
• grant funding of £10,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value of £15,000 or below; or
• grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,999
The City Council are expecting the grant money to be with us on the 1 April, after which claims will be processed as a matter of urgency.
Latest on the Coronavirus Act
The Coronavirus Act became law yesterday and we are now awaiting sight of a number of Statutory Instruments that will set out exactly how some of the provisions will operate including those relating to remote meetings (which is part of the Act) and in relation to delaying any potential by-elections.
Councillor Phil Bateman added, ” I thought last night was incredible as I followed what Wednesfield North residents were doing street by street in supporting our wonderfully brave staff working in Social Care, and the NHS. I had an immense feeling of pride in all that was going on. I know Rita Potter and Mary feel like I do about your great contribution. Mary aand I from the bedroom windows in Broad Lane North clapped like mad with neighbours at 8.00pm. We have a great community in Wednesfield North.”