Welcome to the Spring 2020 e-Newsletter from your East Putney Councillors
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Cllr Ravi Govindia: email@example.com
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Cllr Sarah Binder: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives – and Wandsworth residents doing it best!
In these extraordinary times, your Councillors are urging residents to follow the expert advice to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus – and thanking Wandsworth residents for coming out top in London in a new survey of how many people are sticking to the guidance.
Cllr Ravi Govindia said: “It’s been an difficult Easter for all of us as we stay at home and minimise our social interaction. It’s vital that for the next few weeks, we go on following the Government advice, to protect our NHS and save lives. However, I’m delighted that Wandsworth has come top of the London boroughs in a survey of how many people are following the guidance. Only 2% of Wandsworth residents were found to be flouting the stay at home advice, compared to far more elsewhere. I thank our residents sincerely and urge you to keep it up.”
The Government has said people should only leave the house for one of four reasons:
· Shopping for basic necessities, such as food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible;
· One form of exercise a day, such as a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
· Any medical need or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
· Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
The survey, by Manchester and Liverpool Universities, builds a ‘heat map’ of behaviour during the pandemic that can help the NHS. Over 29,000 people responded. Wandsworth was found to be London’s most cooperative borough, with just 2% of non-key workers leaving their homes other than for the permitted activities. On average, 6.2% of London residents admitted to breaching the guidance, with as many as 10% in Islington, Hillingdon and Newham, and 21% in Enfield.
You can read about the survey here.
Helping Vulnerable People
During the crisis, your Council has created a Community Hub for residents, particularly for elderly and/or vulnerable people without support networks, who need support to access medical or care services, or food supplies. It is working to help people who are most in need to stay safe and well while they self-isolate at home.
You can call the Community Hub on 020 8871 6555 or email: COVID19support@richmondandwandsworth.gov.uk
The Council has also turned the Town Hall’s Civic Suite into a food distribution hub, where it is working with Age UK Wandsworth to deliver food parcels across the borough.
You can join Ravi and Age UK inside the food hub to see what they’re doing on this short video.
Can you help?
Cllr George Crivelli said: “It’s been really heartening to see the strong sense of community in Wandsworth, with so many local groups and residents offering their support in response to the outbreak. If you are an individual, business or organisation that would like to help, you are most welcome to get in touch.”
George added: “And if you are a voluntary or community group in the borough, or are thinking of forming one to respond to the pandemic, please contact the Wandsworth Voluntary Sector Coordination Project (part of Wandsworth Care Alliance), so that you canliaise with the Council’s efforts and make sure you have the right processes in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable residents.”
You can email the Care Alliance at email@example.com
Helping businesses, employees, and the self-employed
Residents will have heard on the national news about the huge package of financial support the Chancellor has announced to mitigate the economic impact of the virus.
Cllr Sarah Binder said: “The Chancellor’s measures include business rate relief, and grants and loans to keep businesses, the economy and working people going. The Council has already paid out £23.55 million in support to 1577 local businesses. There’s a wealth of information about help for business and workers on the Council’s website, including free business support events, so please visit the site to find out more and to see what you can apply for.”
Local shops open and deliveries
Meanwhile, Putney’s Business Improvement District, Positively Putney, is listing shops, pharmacies and other businesses that are still trading, and has launched a new online website where you can order from Putney stores and have rapid delivery, if you live within a mile of the town centre. This includes shops and restaurants offering home deliveries of food.
Find out more here at Positively Putney.
Unfortunately the Council has had to reduce or change several borough services as part of the emergency response. Affected services include libraries and leisure centres, all currently closed.
But Wandsworth Libraries’ digital services are still running, and so are Home Library deliveries to elderly and vulnerable customers. Our libraries have increased their digital services for e-books, e-audio, live streaming and ancestor research, and have seen a record 34% increase in residents using them.
To find out more and to join the libraries online, click here.
Cllr Ravi Govindia said: “I’m also happy to say that our rubbish and recycling collections are running to schedule, with our waste crews doing a tremendous job despite lower staff levels due to the virus. To help our waste crews, we have had to postpone collecting garden waste, and we urge people not to dispose of bulky items at this time. We have also had to close the tip at Smugglers Way for the time being.
“But unlike some boroughs, we have kept our parks and green spaces open, with signs on playgrounds and equipment reminding residents how important it is to maintain social distancing. I urge residents using our green spaces to be considerate and careful about keeping 2 metres’ distance from other visitors.”
Ravi added: “As residents will know, East Putney is home to a main Fire Station by the foot of West Hill. As well as thanking our waste crews, I’d like to give a special thank you to the Fire Service, who are doing a brilliant job as part of the Wandsworth’s critical infrastructure, and are also lined up to help with key transportation support.”
There are full details on how Council services are affected here.
Staying in touch and finding out more
Cllr George Crivelli said: “There is ‘fake news’ out there about the pandemic, so we’ve made a big effort to ensure that our Council website is a comprehensive and trusted source of everything you may need to know about the outbreak, how it is affecting us all, what to do, how you can help, and what help you can get.”
You can click here for all the information you may need.
The Council’s News page also has a lot more detail, including videos, about what the Council is doing to support residents, businesses, schools and key workers in these unprecedented times.
You can find all the latest updates here, and can also sign up for emails that bring you the latest Council news.
Council helping laid-off residents find new jobs
The Council’s jobs agency, Work Match, is helping local residents who have been made redundant by the virus crisis into new employment, including a drive to recruit temporary Healthcare Assistants at St George’s Hospital during the pandemic. Work Match provides a free jobs brokerage service between local organisations and businesses that are recruiting, and local residents seeking work.
Cllr Sarah Binder said: “We’re very proud to be helping St George’s at this crucial time. Healthcare Assistants carry out routine tasks that free up the frontline staff who are caring for Covid-19 patients, as they battle to treat people and save lives. No experience is needed; St George’s is looking for caring people who are prepared to work in various healthcare roles and can start as soon as possible.”
Sarah added: “Several other employers also suddenly have new staffing requirements, including supermarkets, care services and the logistics industry. Just one recent example is a young man who was working at a cinema that closed, but within days, he got a job at a supermarket through Work Match.”
Work Match is keen to hear from local employers who need staff, and from local residents who can start work now. You can find out more here.
Meanwhile amidst the pandemic, there is some (non-virus) good news!
Low Council Tax again!
Most residents will now know their Council Tax bill for 2020-21 – and the good news is it’s again one of the lowest in the UK. Wandsworth’s bill is up by only 1.99%, plus a further 2% to be targeted for social care, making an average extra charge of £17.95p. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is increasing his share of Council Tax by 3.6%, an average rise of £11.56p. In total, this makes Wandsworth’s average Band D Council Tax £799.82p, of which £332.07 is paid to the Mayor. The Wandsworth bill is expected to be around half the London average.
Cllr Ravi Govindia said: “We have strained every sinew to make sure our residents continue to pay one of the lowest council taxes in the UK, while benefiting from some of the best-run services in the country. We work very hard to provide people with value for money, while continuing to invest in libraries, parks, roads and housing.
Our careful use of taxpayers’ money has also enabled us to launch a package of cuts in Council Tax to help some 3,600 families on the lowest incomes who are facing additional hardship due to the pandemic.”
The Council is offering cuts of about £185 to Wandsworth families who already qualify for help paying Council Tax. The rules on non-payment of Council Tax are also being relaxed, and no Wandsworth council tenants will face eviction for rent arrears while the crisis continues. Allowances will also be made for leaseholders who have bought their council homes and are struggling to pay their service charge bills.
One way that Wandsworth can help to keep Council Tax low is by ensuring that new homes are built in the borough. It has regularly qualified for the ‘new homes bonus’ paid by the Government to councils that support new housing. In 2019-20, Wandsworth’s efforts in creating new homes earned a record £12.953 million ‘new homes bonus’ payment, the second highest award in the country.
Wandsworth heading for 100% zero carbon
Since our last e-Newsletter, councillors have voted to move the whole Council to 100% zero carbon energy. The Council has committed to investing in low carbon technology and procuring sustainable, zero-carbon energy, as part of its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030 and zero-carbon by 2050.
Cllr George Crivelli said: “This is part of our £20 million Wandsworth Climate Change Action Plan. Sourcing renewable energy is one of the most effective ways to cut carbon emissions. We are proud to be one of the few local authorities doing this, and we encourage others to do the same. The picture here shows solar panels on the Town Hall roof - just one example of what we’re doing. We also want to encourage our Wandsworth community to look at changing energy suppliers.”
The Council also aims to ‘decarbonise’ its operations through audits to find energy efficiencies, investigating technologies to optimise energy use, installing renewable energy generation where feasible, and exploring options for electrification and using ‘green’ gas to cut carbon emissions from heating.
The Wandsworth Climate Change Action Plan also includes £5 million for improving cycling infrastructure, more tree planting, cutting single use plastics and educating staff towards the Council being ‘Gold-level carbon literate’.
You can read more here about the Council's Climate Change Action Plan.
Plans to secure future of popular Grade II Listed pub
The Council has approved a scheme that aims to safeguard the future of the popular Spread Eagle pub, a historic Grade II Listed landmark, while bringing yet more investment into Wandsworth town centre. The scheme is to create a 21-bedroom boutique hotel on the upper floors of the Spread Eagle, with the hotel income helping to pay for the pub’s upkeep and preserve its unique character.
Cllr Sarah Binder said: “This is a thoughtful regeneration plan that will help to safeguard the Spread Eagle - a jewel in the crown of Wandsworth town centre. It is one of many renewal schemes in the area that signal real confidence amongst investors. The multiple regeneration schemes in Wandsworth town centre add up to one of the biggest urban renewal projects in London, with well over £1bn of new investment flowing in, creating hundreds of new jobs and homes, and bringing major improvements to the local environment.”