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Press Release Date: 12 May 2020
West Berkshire Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are set to reopen to allow residents the opportunity to dispose of waste and recycling that cannot be safely stored at home. This follows publication by the government of updated guidance indicating that visits to recycling centres can be considered essential under certain conditions.
From Thursday 14 May both of our recycling centres, which are located at Newtown Road in Newbury and Padworth Lane, near Aldermaston, will be reopened. The sites were closed temporarily on 24 March following announcements by the government of lockdown restrictions. In order to manage demand, a booking system is in place and you will not be able to simply turn up at the recycling centres.
The booking system will be live on the morning of Wednesday 13 May and residents need to book their appointment here: https://citizen.westberks.gov.uk/clickandtip.
When the recycling centres reopen, and to stay within the government's Covid-19 guidelines on essential travel, please remember that journeys to these sites during lockdown should only be made if waste cannot be stored any longer at home without causing a risk to your health and safety. The sites will be open seven days a week from 9:00am to 6:00pm, with the last booking appointment available at 4:30pm.
Working with Veolia, who are our waste contractors, precautionary measures will be introduced to help maintain social distancing on our sites for our residents and staff protection. We will also implement a robust traffic management plan which will help us minimise impacts of traffic congestion on the local road network and to control the number of visitors to the site at any one time.
Residents need to book an appointment and be prepared for the possibility of long queues. We are advising delaying a visit until things are a bit quieter in a few weeks’ time or to only visit if you cannot safely store waste at home for the next couple of weeks. Our kerbside waste collections for recycling, rubbish, the garden and food waste subscription scheme and chargeable kerbside bulky waste collection service is still operating normally and residents are advised to make use of them, wherever practicable, in the meantime.
Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter, Executive Member for the Environment at West Berkshire Council, said: “In line with Government guidance, the decision to reopen the recycling sites has been a priority for the Council.
“Staff at the recycling sites will ensure that social distancing guidelines of keeping at least 2 metres apart are adhered to. Therefore we urge all visitors to please be patient and leave plenty of time for their visit.
“The two sites that are reopening will be open from 9:00am to 6:00pm, seven days a week, and we intend to make as many appointment slots as possible available via the Council’s website. Please be patient if you don’t manage to get a booking initially due to high demand. We will collect as many of the typical household waste types as practicable at the sites when they reopen.
“With the reopening of both sites, it means that anyone with accumulated waste, that cannot safely be stored, can now dispose of it properly. Please remember to only use the sites if you have a valid booking.
“We are grateful to our residents for their patience and continued cooperation during these challenging times.”
Making your visit run smoothly
The experience of visiting our household recycling centres will be different and you should only visit the recycling centres if you cannot safely store your waste at home.
Please ensure you:
West Berkshire Council
From Councillors Clive Hooker - 5th May 2020
A busy month dealing with residents’ planning applications, whether providing advice, support or answering queries regarding when the Western Area Planning Committee will be resuming to address the backlog of cases due to no social gathering taking place at these meetings. As you will read below, this has now been resolved with public participation being included by written submissions. The first Western Area Planning Committee Meeting will be held on 20th May and can be viewed via live streaming or catching up later on YouTube.Again, I would like to thank all of our local volunteer groups who have been exemplary in helping in their communities, ensuring the vulnerable amongst us have received their shopping, prescriptions and making visits to ensure they are safe and well and giving them some friendly conversation in what at times can be lonely days self-isolating.
Please continue to stay at home and follow the government advice.
Following the implementation of the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panels) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 that I referred to in last month’s report there was an Extraordinary Council Meeting on 29 April to agree procedures for holding remote council meetings.
Members agreed the protocols by which WBC will continue to hold public meetings in compliance with the Regulations, including live streaming. Public questions previously asked orally at meetings have been replaced by questions in writing, and oral representations have been replaced by representations in writing – because of the concern that otherwise decisions might be challenged for technical reasons beyond the council’s control.
The Annual Meeting of council, when the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Council are elected and memberships of the various Council Committees, etc, are decided, will take place remotely (and be broadcast via YouTube – the details will be on the agenda page on the WBC website) on 12 May.
Additional Funding for addressing the Covid-19 pandemicWithin the next few weeks, the Council will receive a proportion of an extra £1.6bn Government funding which has been earmarked for Local Authorities to help respond to the impact of the Coronavirus within our communities.
The new funding is further to that received in March and will assist in covering further costs that the Council is facing due to the virus in the short term and, along with the Council’s strong financial management, will enable the Council to continue to provide vital services to support residents and to support our external care providers.
Community Support HubThe Community Support Hub (CSH) established in response to the Covid-19 pandemic is providing parish and town councils with a weekly data update on their activities. The CSH is contactable seven days a week and is co-ordinating resident requests for support with volunteers able to provide the most appropriate assistance. You can follow the activities of the Hub on their Facebook page West Berkshire Community Support Hub Group and contact them on 01635 503579, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food distribution for shielded and self-isolating
WBC’s partner, Spotlight UK, along with council officers are co-ordinating the weekly distribution of food from its base at Newbury Rugby Club. Last week 130 food packages were delivered by volunteers from across the district.
Community Cash Float
For groups who have registered with the Community Support Hub and who require a float to help manage cash flow while undertaking activities please contact the Hub on 01635 503579 to make an application.
West Berkshire Council has a higher number of its own care homes than many local authorities. We are extremely saddened to have lost some of our residents – up to the end of April there had been 17 deaths of which four were certified as a result of Covid-19, and we had another 15 residents who had either been confirmed as having Covid or were symptomatic.
We are hugely grateful to the staff in our care homes who are looking after our residents and liaising with families.
Personal Protective Equipment
We know that adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for carers is a concern nationally. At the present time we can assure you that in West Berkshire we have the supplies we need and we are keeping this under constant review.
We are also greatly encouraged to see those in communities who are utilising their skills to make scrubs for our health workers where their use is appropriate.
Primary School Allocations
The primary school allocation was announced last week with 98% of children being allocated a school in one of their preferences. This means that from the 1,749 applications for primary school admissions received by West Berkshire Council this year, 1,710 children were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools with 89% of those receiving their first choice.
Highwood Copse School
We are disappointed that this primary school will not be ready for September as planned. After the initial delay as a result of the original contractor, Dawnus, entering administration, the further delay has be due to the Covid-19 pandemic in which the contractor, Feltham Construction, closed down the site due to social distancing and materials supply. The school would have made provision for 30 children to have been admitted to the reception class in September.
Despite the libraries being closed since March, to minimise risks to users, staff and volunteers, the overall levels of items borrowed has gone up by 6.8% in the 12 month period to March. This is largely due to loans of almost 90,000 e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines and e-newspapers – an increase of a staggering 127.39%. The Library service offers its members access to free resources from BorrowBox, OverDrive, RBdigital and PressReader, which was launched in May 2019.
Customers who are not already a member of the library, can join online giving them free and instant access to the e-library. For details visit www.westberks.gov.uk/libraries.
Our colleagues at Veolia are continuing to collect household waste and recycling on the usual collection day. To mitigate staff shortages, collection teams are starting at 06:00 so we are seeking to spread the message to residents to have their bins out earlier than normal.
Bulky Waste Service
Residents will be pleased to hear that our bulky waste collections from kerbside, that were temporarily suspended, have been restarted - from outside properties only and excludes white goods (from Monday 20 April).
There's a charge for collecting bulky waste, and all collections need to be booked in advance by calling the Customer Services secure payment line on: 0330 131 9742. We're unable to arrange collections via email. We are running the standard collection service only, where items are left outside your home for collection - for up to five items, the cost overall is £45. Where possible please leave item(s) out for collection in the front garden. You can read more about our bulky waste collection on our website.
Household Waste Recycling Centres
We are discussing how and when we will be in a position to re-open the HWRC at Newtown Road and Padworth. In West Berkshire we have direct access to the anaerobic digester which means we have been able to continue to collect green waste, unlike some authorities who had suspended this service.
Other streams of household waste disposal continues to be more complex without compromising social distancing guidelines both at the centres and onward processing. We do not wish to give a conflicting message with regards to essential travel guidance and swamping our HWRC’s with high volumes of people and traffic.
West Berkshire was recently voted as one of the 50 best places to live in the UK in 2020. Please use our online service to report instances of fly-tipping and provide us with as much detail as you can. We are continuing to monitor our environment and take enforcement action against perpetrators of fly-tipping.
Other issues arising from Covid-19
Support for local businesses and residentsBusiness Rates
Our Business Rates Team has now been in contact with over 954 West Berkshire businesses eligible for Government Grants. So far £12.2 million in grant funding has been given to support them.
All businesses must be contacted individually, which is causing some delays, but the team is working as quickly as they can and we have issued grants to over 99% of businesses who have returned their forms to us.
Find out more about the support available to local businesses.
Council Tax Holidays
For individuals in receipt of Council Tax Support, a grant of up to £150 has been applied to the resident’s account – they do not need to apply for this.
For those who have experienced a sudden drop in income as a result of the COVID-19 consequences on their employment income a Council Tax ‘holiday’ (can be discussed by contacting our Local Taxation team. More information can be found on our website: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/article/36859.
LEP Task Force
WBC has joined a task force established by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to support businesses in Berkshire who are struggling with the impact of Covid-19.
The Task Force includes key stakeholders including the Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub, Thames Valley Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Institute of Directors, Confederation of British Industry and the six Berkshire Local Authorities. It will be used to ensure that businesses are kept up to date with developments, have access to finance available, and are provided with as much support as possible.
Covid-19 and Viral LoadThis information piece from Holly Jenkins, a WBC Public Health Registrar, in a recent Coronavirus bulletin may be of interest.
We know for some diseases that the dose of virus a person is exposed to will directly correlate with how severe the disease is. A good example of this is influenza. Virus particles hijack living cells and force them to make more virus copies. We don’t yet know how many particles of the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19 disease) it takes to infect us but we suspect it might be fairly low given how the disease is spreading.
There has been emerging evidence around ‘viral load’ of SARS-CoV-2. Viral load is the amount of virus found in a sample taken from a patient and indicates how well the virus is making copies in the infected person. If you have a high viral load, you are more likely to have more virus in your airways and so release when coughing to infect other people. A study indicated people with Covid19 have a high viral load just before and shortly after they start getting symptoms. This makes controlling the spread of the virus even harder as people are more likely to transmit the virus when they first get sick and up to 48 hours before symptoms start.
Some studies have reported that people who have more severe disease have higher viral loads (up to 60 times higher in severe cases than mild cases). A study just published from China looked at samples from 96 patients with Covid19 and found significantly higher viral loads in respiratory samples of patients with severe disease than those with mild disease. This would suggest that viral load can be used to predict how severe disease will be. But this isn’t clear cut; another study from Lombardy didn’t find a difference in viral load between those who had symptoms versus those who had not had any symptoms. All this evidence is based on observations of people who have the disease, rather than rigorous trials that expose people to escalating doses of virus and monitor for disease severity, and these trials are unlikely to happen for ethical reasons given the severe consequences of COVID-19 illness.
Stay at Home Message
The Council continues to support the Government’s #StayHomeSaveLives message and have observed the guidance by closing all council offices to the public, with only a very few key workers attending at any one time. Where possible officers are working from home and where that is not possible some have been seconded to assist the Councils Covid response.
Closure of car parks at Snelsmore and Greenham Common
We appreciate how valuable our public green spaces are and we know some residents are anxious that the decision was taken to close the car parks at these sites. This is to both encourage social distancing and reinforce the non-essential travel message. West Berkshire has a wealth of green space accessible to residents without the need for travel to open spaces.
WBC car parks
All WBC open surface car parks have been made available free of charge.
All individuals known to the Council are being accommodated in hotels and being provided food and support from our housing team. A number of residents in Two Saints have also been moved in to separate accommodation where they shared rooms with others to ensure social distancing can be observed.
Home to school transport
WBC has taken the decision to refund all those who have bought a farepayer seat on home to school transport for the two weeks from 23 March to 3 April.
A decision will be made regarding the last two terms of school (20 April to 22 May and 1 June to 17 July) once the Government has issued further guidance on school attendance for these periods.
The Public Protection Partnership (PPP) has seen a surge in scams during the pandemic.
The public should be aware that scams are looking more sophisticated, such as door-to-door officials, calls, texts and emails which look like they are from a trusted source but are in fact fake.
The PPP team has received a huge variety of complaints from everyday goods being sold at extortionate prices and premises continuing to trade when they shouldn’t be, to shopping and medication collection services demanding money up front, with no service delivered. The remind all to remain vigilant and report scams to
Communications ChannelsAs well as Twitter there are also a number of Facebook pages which the Council uses, for example:
The WBC website also contains more about the CSH and useful information for residents and businesses:
Community hub https://info.westberks.gov.uk/coronavirus-communityhub
Linked to all of these initiatives is the WBC Customer Service telephone line: 01635 551111.
Councillor Downlands Ward
Since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic the Public Protection Partnership has seen a 622% increase in bonfire complaints over the same period last year (from 32 complaints to 231).
They have produced the following guidance for the Parish Council which we thought was worth sharing as it is the same guidance will be given to anyone complaining direct and I know this is something that has already been discussed on the Village Facebook page.
Public Protection Partnership: Right now, we are asking residents across the district/borough to think of others and not light bonfires during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic lockdown because many people at home are vulnerable and may have respiratory issues, or even be fighting the Coronavirus itself.
During this difficult time we are asking that their needs are put first. We are also urging people to consider alternative means of disposal of waste as burning in close proximity to other properties is always a potential source of nuisance. For instance, if the job can’t wait until the civic amenity sites reopen, green waste can be composted or stockpiled at home. Bonfires can also get out of control or cause accidents, creating extra pressure on the already busy emergency services. While there are no laws against having a domestic bonfire there are laws about causing a nuisance. The smoke or the smell of smoke from bonfires can cause a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
We would consider taking formal action under the above legislation if a number of justified complaints were received about the burning. If sufficient evidence is gathered and the Council is satisfied that a Statutory Nuisance exists then an enforcement notice may be served to prohibit the recurrence of the nuisance. A breach of this notice may result in a fine.
To report an incident of a bonfire please use our online reporting form here.
Fly tipping is the illegal dumping of any waste or rubbish on public land or sites which are unauthorised to accept waste. If the rubbish is dumped on private land, the landowner is responsible for removing it. If you find or receive notification of fly tipped material on private land you will need to inform the landowner. Landowners unfortunately will have to pay for the cost of disposal of fly-tipped materials.
To report an incident of fly tipping please see links on PPP website here.
This is written by the Parish Clerk with input from the village.
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