Good Morning Wednesfield! Its April the 6th and it looks like we will have a bright morning.
Every morning I get a briefing from the Local Government Information Unit. It’s a valuable briefing and its one of the first items I read every morning, as it gives a precis of what is taking place across the United Kingdom and further. Here is a truncated part of that briefing. It carries what the ”Papers Say” and is likely to create the headlines on what you the residents will be talking about at home and at work or with your friends.
PM taken to hospital for ‘precautionary’ tests
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been taken to hospital for “precautionary” tests after his coronavirus symptoms continued to persist ten days after his initial diagnosis. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will chair’s today’s daily ‘war cabinet’, although Downing Street has insisted that Mr Johnson remains in charge of the country
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that people sunbathing in Britain’s parks over the weekend were breaching Government coronavirus restrictions. Mr Hancock said it was “unbelievable” that some people were continuing to flout orders on social distancing, adding: “There are a small minority of people who are still not doing that – it’s quite unbelievable frankly to see that there are some people who are not following the advice.”
PHE fails to draw on council contact-tracing expertise
Public Health England (PHE) has been criticised for failing to call on 5,000 local authority environmental health workers to help carry out contact tracing to track and slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said Government bodies “absolutely should be drawing on the skills set of EHOs [environmental health officers] and if they aren’t, it’s a missed opportunity,” adding: “There is significant capacity that is sitting there for this kind of work to be done.”
Temporary mortuary set up at RAF base
The Mirror reports on work to set up a temporary mortuary at a disused Oxfordshire military base. Oxfordshire County Council has confirmed that a temporary mortuary is being set up at RAF Upper Heyford, with two hangars converted to hold 600 bodies each,
Care homes denied access to COVID-19 tests
The Daily Mail reports that some of the country’s biggest care providers have been denied access to coronavirus tests, despite dozens of deaths suspected to be related to the virus. The head of one major care home firm told the paper it was “almost impossible” to follow official advice without knowing who was infected. Four Seasons Health Care, which runs more than 200 homes, has had no tests for residents or staff, including at a Glasgow home where 13 residents died from a suspected outbreak, and MHA, which runs 222 sites, has seen nine residents die of the coronavirus – while none of its 6,000 residents or 8,000 staff have been tested.
Councillor Phil Bateman further said – “I will be asking what the City of Wolverhampton is doing or planning to do in light of this information.”
Government urged to fund holiday school meals
City leaders have called on the Government to provide funding for free school meals over the Easter holidays – with councils having been told that if they want to continue feeding their most vulnerable pupils, they will have to find the money themselves. Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol, and Cllrs Ian Ward and Judith Blake, the leaders of Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council, have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to call for a rethink. They wrote: “Many families are now finding themselves, perhaps for the first time, unable to feed their families and cover essential costs. We are asking the Department for Education to guarantee and underwrite the full costs of providing FSM [free school meals] during the Easter holidays to all eligible children.”
Council investigation secures £140k for pensioner
Thanks to an investigation by Wakefield Council, a man in his 80s who had gone years without claiming his state pension is to receive a £140,000 payout, along with an extra £185 a week. The man had mistakenly thought he was not eligible to receive the pension because he had continued to work after reaching retirement age. Cllr Michael Graham said: “To help our residents get more money in their pocket, we are using information we hold to identify if they are entitled to more benefits and allowances than they are getting.” After contacting the Department for Work and Pensions on the man’s behalf, it confirmed that he was eligible for the backdated lump sum.
Staggering’ number of bus lane fines appealed
Council figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests have revealed that in some parts of the country, almost nine in ten appeals of bus lane fines are successful. Sandwell in the West Midlands had the highest rate, with 86% of appeals succeeding over one period, while around 80% of fines in one period in Doncaster were overturned on appeal.
London bus drivers ‘scared’ after coronavirus deaths
Bus drivers in London are “scared to death” of catching the coronavirus, according to the Unite union, with full hygiene measures still not in place. Despite the deaths of three drivers and two controllers in the city, the union says drivers do not have access to sanitising wipes, while many driver cabins have not yet been fitted with protective plastic booths.
Councillor Phil Bateman added “that again this is an issue that I will raise with National Express West Midlands. Many of the company bus drivers live in Wednesfield and Wolverhampton. I will be writing to National Express today to get their take on protecting their staff in these unprecedented days.”