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April 24: Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

24 April 2020

Update on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Council Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.

Image of Stockton on Tees Borough council logo

We continue to work within a well-established set of structures governing how agencies work together to respond to keep people safe and well-informed during a major incident. As we are in a relatively stable way of working, we now provide weekly updates on the last working day of the week.

Of course, should there be any urgent or significant news to communicate in the interim then this will be done via the Council's news pages and social media channels. You can also keep informed on all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in Stockton-on-Tees - including new Council support services and disruptions to some regular Council services - by visiting our dedicated webpage Our People.

I am also keen to remind people of the help and support that the Council is providing during this incredibly challenging time.

Bulky waste collections to re-start

Like many local authorities, we have seen increased levels of fly-tipping since the closure of the Haverton Hill Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) and the increase in lockdown spring cleaning and home improvement activity. While we continue to take action against fly-tippers, we are also in discussions with SUEZ UK, which manages the HWRC, about restoring access to the centre.

We have also been exploring ways of reinstating bulky waste collections, and have worked out some safe collection and disposal processes that will enable us to re-start the service next week. We expect demand to be very high so people are very likely to find they have to wait longer than usual for an appointment. It would help us if you could hold onto large items of waste until the recycling centre is re-opened and the restrictions on movement are lifted.

Help for businesses

We have now processed £25.7million of business grant payments to 2,216 eligible businesses in the Borough - that's 87 per cent of the total. There are some businesses that we still need additional information from in order to process their grant payments and we are busy contacting them. If you have not yet been in touch, you can find eligibility details and an online form on our dedicated webpage Help for businesses or call our Business and Enterprise team on 01642 528384.

Help for people struggling to pay Council Tax

We appreciate that people may be struggling to pay their Council Tax. If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax due to the pandemic, please get in touch. We will explore all possible options with you. Please email and include in your email your name and address, telephone number, your preferred email address, your Council Tax account number, and a brief outline of your circumstances. If you are unable to email please call 01642 397108 instead. You can also find out more on our dedicated webpage: Council tax.

Help for the vulnerable and elderly

The 'COVID Community Support Team', a partnership between the Council, Catalyst and the Borough's brilliant VCSE organisations, has been going for five weeks now we've been proud to work alongside more than 200 wonderful volunteers providing help to more than 2,000 vulnerable and elderly residents. My heartfelt thanks go to everyone involved in this vital support, which will continue for as long as needed.

Help ranges from food deliveries, shopping and picking up prescriptions to making sure people who are self-isolating and may be worried or lonely get the right support they need. The team operates seven days a week and phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, and from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. You can call 01642 524500 for assistance and find out all about it on the Catalyst website.

Help for parents/carers of children still attending school

The vast majority of schools in the Borough remain open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. If a school does need to close and you need help arranging alternative provision then the Council's School Support Service can help. For more details visit Our People.

Help for care providers

We continue to work very closely with the Borough's care homes, domiciliary care providers and many individual personal assistants and informal carers, who look after some of our most vulnerable residents. They are doing an absolutely phenomenal job. We are in daily contact with many of the homes and care providers and are supporting them as they continue to operate in extremely challenging circumstances. We are working alongside health colleagues to provide additional support to shield and protect our care homes. We are also ensuring that all their needs are being raised through the Local Resilience Forum so they are escalated to Government as a matter of urgency.