Council leader thanks community for compassion

ROTHER’S council leader has paid tribute to the effort and compassion shown by the entire community as the Covid-19 lockdown continues.

Cllr Doug Oliver said the actions of residents and businesses, community groups, volunteers, colleagues in town and parish council and the council’s own staff and members were “heartening” amid the tragedy and uncertainty caused by the ongoing crisis.

His comments come after it was revealed that nearly 300 people had so far contacted the community hub, a one-stop shop for advice and help set up by the district council as part of a national effort.

“It’s fair to say that every element of normal life has been affected in some way by this devastating virus,” Cllr Oliver said, “but seeing the community spirit that has been shown by our residents, and the dedication demonstrated by our own staff, contractors and other key workers, has been extremely heartening.

“Whether you’re supporting a vulnerable neighbour or family member, putting yourself at risk by carrying out your vital job or volunteering, or simply staying at home and helping to slow the spread of Covid-19, I want to say thank you.”

With greater focus on testing key workers, the district council has now closed Wainwright Road car park to the public and made it available to the NHS as a drive-through testing facility.

Cllr Oliver said: “The testing of key workers is a vital part of our efforts to minimise disruption to the services residents rely upon and I’m pleased that we have been able to support the NHS in setting up this testing facility which will enable key workers to return to work more quickly.”

The district council is also playing a vital role in ensuring local businesses can access the grants they are entitled to, having already distributed a total of £13.4 million of Government funding to 1,120 businesses across the district.  The authority is currently sending out information to eligible businesses who have yet to apply.

While the majority of council services continue to run with little disruption, decisions have had to be made to safeguard some services and protect staff and members of the public.

Following a large number of visitors to Camber Sands in March despite Government warnings to social distance, all car parks serving the beach remain closed. All other car parks, with the exception of Wainwright Road, remain open with parking charges suspended.

Parks remain open for residents’ daily exercise, but they are being reminded to observe social distancing and not to meet with anyone not in the same household.

The district’s garden waste collection service, paid for by residents who sign up, was suspended to ensure the council’s contractor can continue waste and recycling collections with rising staff absences. This will be reinstated from Monday, May 4, and planned increases to the cost of the garden waste service next year have been postponed for existing customers in recognition of the disruption.

From this week, ground workers will be returning to streets and parks across the district to carry out maintenance work to prevent the district council incurring additional expense.  This work will only be carried out where it is possible for staff can observe social distancing.

Cllr Oliver added: “Rother District Council and its contractors are in no way immune from the effects of this crisis, but our officers are doing everything they can to keep essential services running and we are all extremely proud of the commitment and care they are showing as they respond to the challenges.

“Even when restrictions are lifted, we will continue to feel the impact and I would ask for residents’ continued understanding and patience. We will come through this, but we must all work together and support each other during these difficult times.”

Ends.

Published: 29th April 2020