Update on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Council Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.
Following Friday’s declaration of a major incident across the Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Hartlepool council areas, we are now working within a well-established set of structures governing how agencies work together to respond to keep people safe and well-informed.
We are continuing to scale back a number of non-essential services to ensure we can focus our resources on those services that protect the most vulnerable.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies
In line with national guidance, all weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will cease until further notice.
Our four Family Hubs – Billingham, Redhill, Stockton and Thornaby – are distributing packed lunches to families with children who would normally receive a free school meal. This is going well, with over 1,200 lunches provided yesterday and this will continue while we await details of the national approach to providing support through supermarket and shop vouchers. We are restricting some activities at the Family Hubs to enable this work to continue and you can keep up to date on the hubs’ Facebook pages. Details of the free school meals offer from Family Hubs can be found at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/schoolsandchildcare and anyone who cannot collect a meal from a Family Hub can call HelpPoint for assistance on 01642 527225.
The Borough’s outdoor markets will be restricted to food stalls only, and staff and customers will be asked to observe strict social distancing measures.
Street cleansing and grass cutting
Street cleansing services will be cut back to minimum levels, with the focus on emptying waste and dog bins until further notice. Grass cutting will be restricted to minimum levels with the exception of areas where it is needed to ensure public safety – for example, to maintain lines of sight at road junctions.
Parking charges are suspended in all Council-run car parks and for on-street parking meters until further notice.
Stockton High Street
We are suspending the use of the fountains and Stockton Flyer until further notice, along with our feature lighting programme.
There will be one exception this Thursday (March 26) when we will be turning the feature lighting blue in a show of solidarity and support for the NHS and its workers.
Green waste collections
Green waste collections will not resume in April as originally planned and will be suspended until further notice. Please note that regular household waste and recycling collections are continuing as normal.
Parks and play areas
In line with the new national guidance last night we have reviewed our decision to close all parks and play areas. We are closing park gates for vehicle access, and the toilets and other facilities in our parks will be closed until further notice.
But pedestrian access will be maintained and we will not be seeking to stop people walking and exercising in the park, where they do so in line with national guidance on social distancing. Play areas remain closed.
Following on from our earlier decision to cancel all events until the end of May, we have now decided to cancel all events until further notice. This includes events such as SIRF, the Fire Engine and Vintage Vehicle Show, Stockton Cycling Festival and Armed Forces Day celebrations. There are a number of reasons for this, including the lead in times required for proper event planning and for booking acts and suppliers.
Disabled Facilities Grant works
Work on assessment and installation of adaptations available under the Disabled Facilities Grant will cease from today until further notice but where possible, we will complete work on jobs which have started.
School crossing patrols
School crossing patrols will cease from today until further notice. There is a very low level of demand but we have a stand-by service ready should the need arise in a specific area.
Work on the following capital projects, which have not yet got under way, will be postponed until further notice:
- Mandale Bridge repairs
- Ash Trees Academy
- Egglescliffe School main hall
- Redhill Family Hub entrance
- Sandown Road refurbishment
- Myton Park SEN extension
- All Saints Church of England Academy extension and library conversion
- Coastal footpath
- Devonport play area
- Black Path WiFi
- A174 roundabout enhancements
- Norton Road Townscape Heritage Scheme
Unfortunately, we can no longer permit visitors to the Rosedale Centre, our short-term residential rehabilitation and assessment centre, as the previously announced restricted visiting arrangements did not prove to be workable.
Help for the vulnerable and elderly
There’s a new number for Catalyst’s newly-assembled ‘COVID Community Support Team’ – 01642524500. The team is operating seven days a week and is all about making sure help reaches those in our communities who need it most. You can find out all about it on the Catalyst website.
Help for parents/carers of children still attending school
We have been working closely with our schools to support them as they offer specific provision for children of key workers and vulnerable children. Our schools are doing their very best to stay open but if any of them need to close due to staff absences we have set up phone lines that you can call to help you arrange alternative provision.
Details can be found at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/schoolsandchildcare
It is important that people remain calm, follow the latest national advice on the steps needed to reduce the spread of infection, and use only official sources of information when getting this advice.
For updates on all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in Stockton-on-Tees – including health advice and disruptions to services – visit the Council’s dedicated webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus