Jose Green - Report - November 2020
Needless to say, Covid 19 has had a huge impact on how Wiltshire Council is operating at present. Many are home working but committees are still working well through Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Planning decisions are made with the public able to contribute to the decision process as usual. Full Council also works well with the voting protocol being very efficient. Last week a live stream was online for anyone wanting to hear the latest on the pandemic in Wiltshire.
The mobile library service has ceased whilst we are in this second lockdown but the Household Recycling Centres are open, hopefully the bin collections will be reliably emptied but if staff need to self-isolate alternative staff need to step in at the last minute so there could be delays. 8,000 Wiltshire businesses have been supported by discretionary grants and recently the Government sent a further £600k to help provide long term accommodation for rough sleepers.
There are currently 12,500 people across Wiltshire on unemployment payment with 2,400 under 24 yr olds, we must do our utmost to reduce this number and we must all be aware of the mental health of all ages as these unprecedented weeks continue. Free school lunches are still available for children. £168k came down from Government to support those in self-isolation. The most recent figures on this is that there have been 180 applications but only 40 were eligible.
WC is encouraging parents with a child of 2 years on or before 31st December to apply for 15 hours of free childcare for 38 weeks of the year. Childcare, known as Better2gether Funding for parents on income support, ie.for parents on UC or a child who has an education, health and care plan.
Wiltshire Council has responded to the Government’s white paper on ‘Planning for the Future’, it was debated fully; like many others there are concerns about maintaining democracy when planning applications are submitted. It is also proposed to increase the housing numbers from 42 thousand to 56 thousand in Wiltshire, although there are some 1 million houses across the UK that have permission but remain unbuilt, there should be some tougher pressure placed on those developers to commence building sooner rather than ‘land banking’ as some are inclined to do.
The SWW Area Board was on the 11th November where some priorities are beginning to be identified to enable Councillors to address over the next 3-5 years. These priorities very much influence what projects are supported by grant applications. I hope as many people as possible will respond to the emails that will be circulated to all PC’s, businesses and organisations asking for their opinions.
Finally, there are 24 Support Groups in our Area and our sincere thanks go out to those volunteers who have given of their time during this exceptional situation. As it still continues please contact me if you need any further information for help.
We are all in this together! Keep safe.
Best wishes, José.