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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

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.

Alive West Norfolk leisure facilities

Alive West Norfolk leisure centres are reopening on 25 July 2020. Swimming pools and gyms are going to reopen at the following Alive West Norfolk venues:

Alive Lynnsport

Alive Oasis

Alive St James

Alive Downham Leisure

Further details can be found here: https://www.alivewestnorfolk.co.uk/reopening-after-lockdown/

From Monday 27 July the fitness classes timetable will begin. There will be a reduced timetable at this time, which will be reviewed regularly to ensure a varied programme for customers compliant with government guidance. Spaces can be booked online up to seven days in advance.

Memberships will be unfrozen when the venues reopen and direct debit membership fees will start to be collected from 1 August 2020 unless the area your membership is for is not open, for example climbing. Annual or paid in full memberships will be extended by the duration of the closure. If you do not feel ready to return or you are shielding/isolating you can continue to freeze your membership. Please email alive.card@alivewestnorfolk.co.uk should you need to do this.

Alive Corn Exchange and the Guildhall Theatre currently remain closed. 

To help you stay healthy and well whilst at home, Alive West Norfolk have created an Active at Home page as well as produced some free online fitness classes for you to join in with at home, alongside mini home workouts with their personal trainers. All content is free, just watch the Alive West Norfolk social media channels for more information.

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 foreseeable 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.

Round 2 of the Discretionary Grant policy applications has now closed.

The Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant will close on 28 August 2020. 

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

Do you, or someone you know, need help with food shopping? Vulnerable people can now refer themselves for support from NHS Volunteer Responders.

Call 0808 196 3646.

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 taking place virtually and are available for the public to view on the borough council YouTube channel. 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 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

Up to a maximum of 30 people now may attend a funeral. People can sit together with others from their household, other households must follow the current social distancing guidance.

Webcasting is still being provided free of charge – families can arrange this directly with their Funeral Directors.

The Book of Remembrance room is to re-open. Only one household may enter the room at any time. Flower vase provision has been temporarily removed. Due to the requirement of regular cleaning to keep the area COVID-Secure, the room will be closed on Sundays.

The Book of Remembrance can still be viewed online for free.

The General Enquiries Office will re-open, but only one person may enter the reception at a time.

General enquiries are encouraged by telephoning 01553 630533 during office hours, or emailing Mintlyn@west-norfolk.gov.uk.

Families wishing to collect ashes are requested to call the office to make an appointment.

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

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

Folk in the Town

Autumn Plant and Craft Fair

GEAR

Hunstanton Soap Box Derby

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

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.

Anyone homeless needing assistance should contact the council on 01553 616200 during office hours or 01553 616601 outside office hours and listen to the available options.

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.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

If you live in an HMO, you and all the other residents should:

Tenants - Housing standards are still being enforced (including HMOs). We continue to investigate complaints on the basis of risk, but please be aware that we will endeavour to resolve minor concerns remotely.

Landlords - There are currently no office appointments. Please submit all HMO licensing applications through our online services – otherwise, post any new, transfer, variation or renewal applications (and/or any paperwork) in the letterbox at the King’s Court Council offices.

Housing Benefit

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.

CFSG guidance is available to help animal establishments operate safely, this can be viewed 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 may be a delay in being assigned to a Lily Advisor. The majority of support will be provided over the telephone, text, email or video calls.

There is a lot of information and advice available on the Lily website.

Parking

All borough council car parks are open.

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

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 recommenced on 1 June and have sat since. For further information, visit our meetings page. These meetings can be watched live on the borough council YouTube channel.

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

Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services:

Guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services was updated on 23 June to expand guidance on takeaways to venues providing service at the venue ahead of planned opening, reflect guidance on support bubbles, social distancing, test and trace and feedback from industry.

This applies to any food preparation or service setting where food and drink is sold for consumption at venues or for takeaway or delivery. For example, restaurants, pubs, bars, beer gardens, food to go, cafes, social and similar clubs operating as bars and restaurants, mobile catering and contract catering or similar environments where food and drink is purchased and consumed at a venue in their indoor or outdoor areas or offered for takeaway or delivery.

This guidance also considers entertainment in restaurants, pubs and bars and similar venues where food or drink is served, provided they meet current government criteria for safe reopening.

It does not apply to food preparation or food service in clinical or healthcare settings.

Hotels, guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, business events and consumer shows:

The visitor economy guidance link offers guidance.

Hairdressers, barbershops, beauty and nail bars, makeup, tattoo and spray tanning studios, spas, sports and massage therapy, well-being and holistic locations, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers:

The close contact services guidance applies to hairdressers and barbershops who were able to reopen from 4 July 2020, but is also intended to assist other close contact services, to prepare for reopening.

Non-essential retail:

Some non-essential retailers reopened their premises on 15 June if they can demonstrate that they are Covid secure. Details here of changes being made to high streets and inside retailers.

Businesses remaining closed from 4 July:

For the time being, certain businesses and venues will still be required by law to stay closed to the public. From 4 July, these closed businesses and venues will include:

  • nightclubs
  • casinos
  • bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
  • indoor play areas including soft-play
  • spas
  • nail bars, beauty salons and tanning salons
  • massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
  • swimming pools and water parks
  • exhibition or conference centres - where they are to be used for exhibitions or conferences

The guidance 'closing certain businesses and venues in England' is expected to be updated in due course.

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

Now is the time to start planning to visit west Norfolk. Please enjoy our website, look for inspiration for when you can visit and start planning your overnight trip.

At this time we repeat and support the message below declared by our regional Visit Norfolk team:
“The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others outdoors is now considered to be low as long as people maintain social distancing. The Government have announced new rules on travel to and access to green spaces which includes beaches.”

Guidance for visitors to Norfolk

 

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.

new website has been launched to provide clear, factual information on employment and benefits support with advice on housing, furlough, sick pay and self-employment, alongside advice and FAQs for employers, those already claiming and those making a new claim.

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