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Council service updates - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be a rapidly evolving situation.

We will keep this page updated with information about council services affected by COVID-19 and answer some of our most frequently asked questions. 

Latest service information

Health advice

Visit the NHS and PHE website for the latest guidance on COVID19:

NHS guidance Public Health England

Assistance for businesses

Find out more about assistance and guidance available for employees, employers and businesses affected by COVID-19:

GOV.UK guidance for employees, employers and businesses

Norfolk County Council

Find out the latest from Norfolk County Council:

NCC coronavirus updates

Social media updates

Stay updated by following our Twitter and Facebook accounts:

Twitter Facebook

Alive West Norfolk leisure facilities

Alive Corn Exchange, the Guildhall Theatre, Lynnsport, Oasis, St James Pool, and Downham Leisure Centre all closed on 20 March 2020 and will remain closed until further notice, in line with current Government guidance. Memberships have been frozen and no direct debits will be taken for April or May.

To help you stay healthy and well while you are at home, you can join in live classes online or do mini home workouts with Alive personal trainers.  All content is free, just watch the Alive West Norfolk social media channels for more information.

Arboricultural Officer

There may be a slight delay in responding to enquiries and in issuing permissions for TPO trees or trees in a conservation area.  Please be assured applications are being dealt with as quickly as possible.

Bins

*** Food caddies are not being collected. Please put all food waste in your general waste (black bin).***

Waste and recycling teams in west Norfolk are working to new advice on social distancing, meaning fewer crew members in each vehicle. Due to these smaller teams, food waste collections have been stopped for the forseeable future. Please help the crews by putting food waste directly into your general waste (black bin).

Only side waste in appropriately tagged bags will be collected.

There may be a slight delay to the time that your waste or recycling bin is emptied. Please leave it out as we will try to collect it as soon as we can. If your bin has been missed please report online in the usual way.

Garden waste: Renewals on the brown bin service will be extended to ensure every subscriber still gets their 25 collections. You can check your collection dates by visiting west-norfolk.gov.uk/yourbins.

Whilst there may be some disruption to the usual waste provisions and recycling centres, there will be no relaxation of laws around waste treatment and disposal or the inappropriate burning of waste.

Please act responsibly and consider those living around you.

Continue to keep up to date with available services via the council website www.west-norfolk.gov.uk and www.norfolkrecycles.com.

Items may need to be stored on your premises until services become available again. Please consider the following:

  • Delay buying new items which may mean disposing of old
  • Review processes at home to reduce the general production of waste
  • Be inventive and re-use materials, e.g. cardboard for craft projects, tin cans to hold pens and many more ideas can be found on the internet
  • Compost biodegradable waste

Fly tipping will not be tolerated #Scrapflytipping.

Business assistance

The government has set up a Coronavirus Business Support page. This page helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

The government has announced further measures to assist businesses where the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant are not available to them. They are allowing local authorities to draw up policies to pay business grants in certain circumstances to businesses in their area affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Government expects these grants to be paid from early June. We are drawing up our policy and further information will be published as soon as it is available.

The form to verify your details for the Small Business Grant or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant, and further information is available on our business help due to Coronavirus page.

We are aware of a number of firms asking for a fee to apply for these discounts and grants on your behalf. You do not need to pay anyone to apply for you. The process for getting a grant or discount is simple and where we can award the discount or the grant automatically we will, and we will let you know. If we need further information we will get in touch with you.

If you have any questions you can contact us on 01553 616200.

Community Hubs

Community Hubs have been set up by district councils with the help of a host of organisations and volunteers to support people who may be isolated, or unable to leave the house.

If you are, or someone you know is, in isolation and needs help because you or they are unable to leave the house and don't have friends or family to assist, please contact us on 0344 8008020.

The phone line is available Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm, and for emergencies only at the weekend from 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information visit the advice page on Norfolk County Council's website.

Community Safety and Noise Nuisance

Please note that Community Safety officers may be supporting other critical services provided by the borough council at present.

Response times may be significantly delayed and urgent or serious cases will be prioritised. All other complaints will be logged and will be investigated in due course.

Home visits remain suspended unless deemed essential and we will continue to review the service over the coming weeks.

Antisocial behaviour and other types of nuisance will still be considered unacceptable and action will be taken where necessary.

Council meetings and democratic services

Meetings are also cancelled until 30 April. For further information, visit our meetings page.

Council office visits

To help control the spread of Coronavirus and to keep our staff safe, we're no longer accepting visits from the public. Please do not visit the office, you won't be served. You can contact us through Live Chat on our website, or by calling us on 01553 616200.

If you need to provide documents these can be posted and dropped into the letterbox which is emptied daily.

Council Tax

We have now credited the Council Tax Support Hardship Grant to the Council Tax accounts of qualifying working age customers who are receiving Council Tax Support. Updated Council Tax bills are being sent out from 30 April 2020. The grant will show on your bill as ‘Council Tax Discretionary Relief’. You can find more information on our Council Tax Hardship Grant page.

If you are self-employed and your income has dropped considerably, or you are unable to pay your Council Tax due to coronavirus, you can make a claim for council tax support here. For other welfare benefits please see the guidance here.

We are receiving an increasing number of claims for Council Tax Support. If you have made a claim, we will process it as quickly as possible. You can help us speed up this process by making sure you include all the information we need when you make your claim. If you want to track the progress of your claim, please visit MyRevenues to set up an account.

If you are suffering hardship due to the Coronavirus outbreak, please contact us to discuss your options. We will be able to help.

Also, if you are having trouble paying an outstanding Council Tax debt from a previous year please telephone 01553 616200, option 2, to discuss further.

If you usually make cash payments for Council Tax at the post office but are now self-isolating you can pay online or use the automated payment line 01553 616671. To set up a direct debit please call 01553 616200, option 2.

Crematorium

The fee for online streaming of funeral services at Mintlyn Crematorium has been waived for an initial period of three months in order to assist people with social distancing.

The Crematorium Public Enquiry Office and Book of Remembrance Room is currently closed. However, our Gardens of Remembrance are now open to the public. Funeral attendance is limited to just immediate family only.

Please contact us by phone on 01553 630533 or email mintlyn@west-norfolk.gov.uk during office hours.

You can find more information on funerals and how to care for the deceased on the GOV.UK website.

Elections and referendums

The government has announced that local elections scheduled for Thursday, 7 May 2020 are postponed for 12 months.

All council meetings are cancelled until 30 April 2020.

Environmental Health

For businesses now offering hot and cold food deliveries, see our COVID-19 - Food business advice regarding deliveries page for important information.

Events

The following events have been cancelled or postponed:

VE Day celebrations
Hanse Festival
Spring Plant and Craft Fair
Jetski event
Waterski Race
Festival Too
King’s Lynn Festival
GEAR (rescheduled for 25 October 2020)

Latest information about other upcoming events will be posted on our social media channels and on our events page.

Freedom of Information requests

While council staff are dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus situation, there will be a triage system in place for Freedom of Information requests. A delayed response is likely for most enquiries, where information is not readily available. We appreciate your patience at this time.

Grounds maintenance and street cleansing

As a council we are pooling all our resources. Our priority is refuse and cleansing services, along with closing play areas and installing appropriate signage for the safe use of open areas and allotments. It is important to maintain some level of grounds maintenance in order to provide a clean and safe environment for those who are doing their daily exercise.

However, staff working on these duties are on alert that at any time they could be redeployed to other duties and grounds maintenance will be reduced or stopped. Staff have been instructed to ensure they maintain social distancing at all times, please respect this.

Home visits

All home visits have been cancelled, in particular to protect the elderly and vulnerable. This includes benefits advice, Careline and services. We will be in touch to reschedule appointments in due course.

Housing

The Housing team are operating a rota system to maintain social distancing. This is so that they can continue to provide the service for as long as possible. This may cause a slight delay in responding to enquiries.

We were instructed by Government to find accommodation for all homeless people using shelters and hostels. Those people have now been relocated to alternative accommodation where they have their own room and are able to follow social distancing guidance. The Winter Nightshelter and Purfleet Day Centre are no longer open. 

Anyone homeless needing assistance should contact the council on 01553 616200 (option 4 then option 1) during office hours or 01553 616601 outside office hours. Under no circumstances should anyone needing accommodation be presenting directly to emergency accommodation without being instructed to by the council. 

If you are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, please let us know as soon as possible.

During the current outbreak, there's also additional protection for people who rent. You can find out more on the GOV.UK website.

Housing Benefit

We're suspending all recovery action for Housing Benefit overpayments until 30 June 2020. This means that we won't take any money from your current Housing Benefit payments, deductions from other benefits will stop and we won't take Direct Debits for any payment arrangements. We'll also ask employers to stop making deductions from earnings for recovery of overpaid Housing Benefit. For more information, please see our Housing Benefit overpayment page.

The government has increased the Local Housing Allowance rates as part of its response to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The changes to Housing Benefit claims have already been made, and those affected will have received a letter or email.

We have also updated eligible claims with the new Earnings Disregard from April 2020. Letters and emails have been sent to customers.  

If you want to check your benefit claim, please visit MyRevenues.

If you need information about housing benefit because of a low income due to self-isolation please call 01553 616200.

 

Licensing

As there are now no office appointments, please submit all applications through our online services, or post new or renewal applications and/or any paperwork in the letterbox at the King’s Court Council Offices.

Some animal establishments should remain closed due to COVID-19, but there are exceptions. Find out the latest on our animal licensing COVID-19 updates page.

If you're a taxi driver, you can find out the latest information on our COVID-19 taxi updates page.

Lily

Due to exceptional demand there is unfortunately a waiting list for referrals to see an advisor.

However, there is a lot of information and advice available on the Lily website.

Parking

Free parking in priority car parks for key workers is being phased out:

As more workers return to the workplace over the coming weeks, the priority car parking for key town centre workers in King's Lynn & Hunstanton is being phased out. Details here: https://www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/news/article/808/parking_arrangements_return_to_normal

Free parking for health workers and community volunteers:

Simple parking permits are available for health workers and community volunteers who are helping people across Norfolk.

The new permits will allow free parking in all council run-car parks, in on-street pay and display bays, and permit parking and time limited waiting bays. However to ensure vital spaces will still remain available, and roads accessible for emergency services, the new rules will not apply to disabled parking bays, loading bays, car club spaces and double yellow lines.

Who is eligible for a permit?

Anyone who is a health or care worker or a volunteer formally working on behalf of the COVID-19 response providing services to the local community is eligible for a permit.

How do I get a permit?

For permits across Norfolk (except Norwich) visit the MiPermit website.

For Norwich City controlled areas - senior members of organisations that qualify should email parkingrequests@norwich.gov.uk asking to be included in the scheme and the permit template will be emailed to them and need to be displayed in vehicle windscreens.

Pest control

Due to the COVID-19 situation our pest control suppliers (Millennium Pest Control) will be offering an emergency service only.

In order to comply with social distancing advice, they can supply DIY rat and mouse kits to provide a solution for pest issues that are not deemed as an emergency.

Please call Millennium Pest Control on 01553 344002 to discuss your requirements.

Planning

The Duty Planner service has been cancelled until further notice.

Customers are encouraged to use the Planning Portal or speak to independent planning agents. This enables the planning team to focus on processing planning applications.

Planning officers are continuing to determine applications as best they can although there may well be delays in processing applications. Neighbours, parish councils and other consultees will continue to be notified of new planning applications, and we will publish the weekly list in the usual way. All new planning applications can be inspected and comments made on Public Access. You can also see if there are any new planning applications near you by going to MyNotifications in the menu bar of our homepage.

Planning Committee is currently scheduled for 1, 15 and 29 June. For further information, visit our meetings page.

Property Services

Day-to-day commercial estate management issues for the council’s commercial property portfolio are temporarily suspended. Lease renewals, rent reviews and other estates issues will be addressed at some stage in the future.

Property Services has contacted all commercial tenants of the borough council with further guidance on available assistance.

 

Shops, food premises and other venues

The Government has stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and all non essential premises must now close. Takeaway and delivery services may remain open. In retail and public premises that are expected to remain open, operational guidelines must be followed. View the latest guidance from Government.

Our Environmental Health Team along with Trading Standards and the Police will be out checking that premises have been closed in accordance with the guidance. Businesses who do not follow COVID-19 restrictions will be issued with prohibition notices. Businesses who fail to comply will receive fines. There will be no upper limit to the fines for businesses who continue to ignore restrictions.

Tourism

We look forward to welcoming visitors to Norfolk in the future, but now is not the time. We ask people not to come while the country endures the pandemic and until it's safe again.

For residents and people who are already here, please act responsibly and conform to government guidelines on social distancing and staying at least 2 metres away from others.

Universal Credit

If you have any concerns about Universal Credit, for example being sanctioned if you can't attend an appointment due to self-isolating, please contact the Universal Credit enquiry line on 0800 328 9344.

Volunteering

If you are able to volunteer some of your time to assist others in your community, we really need your help. If you are a business and can help with services, vehicles or other resources, we would love to hear from you, as together we really can make a difference.

Individuals who want to volunteer should visit www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk and businesses should email covidbusinessresponse@voluntarynorfolk.org.uk