By Martin Tett - 3rd April 2020 9:04am
Here is the latest update from the new unitary council for Buckinghamshire, dated 02 April 2020
We have now become one new council, Buckinghamshire Council, providing all council services in Buckinghamshire, to all of our residents, as one team.
This change has come at an incredibly testing time but I am so proud of how our teams have risen to the challenge. We are working together as one new organisation to do everything we possibly can to support our residents through the coronavirus crisis.
I talk more about our new Council in my video updates — so please take a look at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/video-updates to find out a bit more about how the new Council can help if you need support because of the coronavirus outbreak — and of course how to access all your usual council services.
Buckinghamshire Council — our way of working
We have staff working across different areas outside their normal jobs as we direct Buckinghamshire Council resources towards managing the coronavirus outbreak to help and support our residents, especially the most vulnerable.
In an incredibly short space of time, we have set up local support hubs and an online community space for coronavirus related information. Through our team of fantastic volunteers we are taking food parcels to the most vulnerable people who need them.
This is a monumental achievement and I want to pay tribute to all of our Buckinghamshire Council staff for making this happen. And of course, I must highlight again the amazing, inspiring work being done by volunteers, community groups and local businesses right across the county; more on this below. Thank you to each and every one of you.
If you need help and support or if you want to find out more please use the online hub at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus
Could your business help us?
If your business or organisation is in a position to help us deliver critical services by donating time or resources, please do register your support via our website here.
This support will help us continue to provide necessary services to some of the most vulnerable people in the county during this difficult time. We hugely appreciate any offers of help.
Update on where food parcels have been delivered
We've already sent out 50 food parcels directly to households, 10 parcels have been donated to young people who have recently left our care, and parcels have also been taken to the new Aylesbury and High Wycombe hubs to go to people who need them the most. We have also donated 40 boxes of supplies to local food banks. Massive thanks to our volunteers who've been delivering these.
Community focus — #ProudofBucks
I wrote last time about just how incredibly inspiring it is to see such an amazing community effort in full swing right across the county! We're all pulling together at a time of crisis and it's one of the big positives to come out of this situation. We want to highlight as many of these stories at possible in our newsletter and across social media. Tell us what you're up to using hashtag #ProudofBucks.
Twitter — @BucksCouncil
Facebook — @BucksCouncil
For example, in the space of just a few days, Princes Risborough Town Council, alongside local independent shops there, have launched a grocery delivery service. They've already made around 500 deliveries of provisions to local households and it is proving an immediate lifeline for local people.
We know there are stories like this across Buckinghamshire, so let us know what's going on in your area by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or via our social media channels using the #ProudofBucks hashtag.
Please also let us know via email@example.com if you're providing support in your local community so we can add it to our contact list so people can find help in their local area.
Working with the NHS
Buckinghamshire Council is working extremely closely with our colleagues in the NHS to jointly respond to the coronavirus outbreak. One example is how our adult social care services have linked with local hospitals to help speed up discharging patients in recent weeks, to free up hospital beds and to make sure those patients who are being discharged have the help and support they need in their homes.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust — which runs our acute and community hospitals including Stoke Mandeville — is having to pause all routine referrals and postponing many scheduled routine outpatient appointments.
Any patients with appointments between 30 March and 6 July may find non-urgent appointments are postponed.
Urgent and two week wait cancer referrals will continue to be seen and some non-urgent services may be able to continue if these can be safely resourced. Patients will be contacted on an individual basis.
Guidance on staying safe while shopping
None of us should be leaving home other than for essential travel and our daily exercise, and going out to buy food is probably the main reason most of us will have to go out. We're all keen to stay as safe as possible when we go to the shops and there's some helpful advice on how to do this that I want to share with you from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
Click here for advice on going to the supermarket.
Kerbside collection crews thank residents
Buckinghamshire's kerbside collection crews have been rising to the challenge of maintaining regular collections with reduced staffing levels due to coronavirus — and they thank residents for the appreciation and support they've been receiving in response.
One thing that crews would ask though, is that with everyone currently at home, parking is becoming tricky in some areas. If you can make things as easy as possible for collection trucks to get through it would be very much appreciated.
To find out more about changes to collection services that have had to be made go to www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/coronavirus-waste-services-all-districts
We know many Bucks businesses are having to cope with huge challenges and we are currently writing to local businesses to update them about their business rates. There's more information about this and government grants on the business support hub on our website www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/coronavirus-business-support-hub
A new COVID-19 Business Resilience Fund has been launched to support businesses in Buckinghamshire through a partnership between Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Buckinghamshire Business First and Buckinghamshire Council.
To find out more and apply, visit www.bbf.uk.com/covid-19-grants
A rise in scams — be on your guard
Really sadly, there are those who are appallingly taking advantage of this situation and our trading standards team has seen a rise in complaints about scams.
Please be wary — no one should be knocking on your door offering a virus testing kit, a vaccine or 'miracle cure', shopping or medication services needing payment up front.
Please also treat any texts or emails with extreme caution — the Government is using texts and emails to communicate genuine and important information but many fake ones are doing the rounds. If you're in any doubt please do NOT respond and check with a trusted friend or family member or please email or call Trading Standards who can offer you advice. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01296 388 788.
Staying home, staying well
It's so important to do what we can to look after our physical and mental health while our world has been turned upside down. It's OK to feel worried or low at this time — it's a normal reaction to what is happening. We've now got a section on the Buckinghamshire Council website on staying well while we all stay at home — we are adding to this each day with new information.
It's the Easter school holidays!
The Easter holidays are fast approaching but how to do you entertain your children if you can't leave the house?! I know how many parents are struggling juggling work and other commitments with childcare and home schooling. So we've pulled together some ideas of how to keep minds and bodies active during the break from school www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/community-hub/keeping-you-safe/things-do-easter-holidays
And lastly today, just a reminder that we have moved social media channels to the new Buckinghamshire Council accounts — I've mentioned these above but those details again — we're on Facebook @BucksCouncil and make sure you're following us on Twitter @BucksCouncil to keep up to date with everything we post out.
Stay safe and stay well,
Leader of Buckinghamshire Council