I know many of us will be understandably worried about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is affecting our lives and communities, and is set to challenge us in the weeks and months to come.
I write to you as Leader of Dacorum Borough Council to update and reassure you of the actions the Council is taking.
The current national guidance means everyone should be minimising their social contact, reducing unnecessary travel and staying at home if you, or anyone in your household has any symptoms. Please follow the Government guidance and take extra care if you are over 70 years of age, if you are pregnant or have underlying health conditions. For more information, visit the Government website and NHS website.
We are taking every step to prepare for the expected increase in confirmed cases, and will work to ensure that the essential council services continue during this challenging time. In order to do this we enacted our incident management protocol in accordance with the Council’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) arrangements, to address changes or disruptions to council services.
This covers a wide-ranging set of plans (not an exhaustive list):
- Customer Services - I urge our customers to only contact us for essential/urgent enquiries. You will experience longer wait times than normal via the telephone. The Forum in Hemel Hempstead and civic offices in Tring and Berkhamsted are now closed to the public. Our online services remain available and I would urge customers to use this facility in the first instance. If your enquiry cannot be answered via our website, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Supported housing – working with our tenants to update and validate information relating to residents’ vulnerabilities.
- Revenues - priority to deal with business rate re-billing and administration of loan scheme to support local economy (following receipt of Government guidance).
- Benefits - priority to deal with new claims and change in circumstances and the administration of the Government’s hardship scheme.
- Waste services - delivery of waste services are currently being maintained. We have trained additional agency staff and other depot staff to deliver waste services if required, but it may be necessary to suspend green waste.
- Venue closures - The Old Town Hall theatre, Adventure Playgrounds, playgrounds and play areas in conjunction with school closures and Government advice.
- Community and voluntary sector - work starting with existing voluntary sector partners, faith groups, community groups and new groups to develop civic society hub.
- Environmental Health – priorities in dealing with notifications of infectious diseases and risk-based response to food hygiene.
- Development Management priorities - commercial and major planning applications first priority (to support the local economy) then individual residential applications in the event of disruption to services.
For updates on affected services, help and guidance, please visit our dedicated Covid-19 advice and updates page. This will be updated regularly and signposted from our social media accounts.
Our primary aim is to ensure that everyone who needs help is supported - especially the most vulnerable. This is a rapidly changing situation and the Government guidance is changing on a daily basis. Our current plans set out to:
- Protect the health and wellbeing of Dacorum residents, working in partnership with our partners at Hertfordshire County Council and the NHS.
- Maintain essential council services and/or deliver them in a different way.
- Supporting our communities, vulnerable people and those with complex needs.
- Support our business community through business rate re-billing and administration of loan scheme to support local economy (following receipt of Government guidance).
- We will work with council tenants affected by coronavirus.
If you are concerned about any aspect of coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the Government website and NHS website. For council support, visit www.dacorum.gov.uk.