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Statement re Covid-19 Tier Level 1 for Kent and Medway

Joint statement from Kent County Council and Medway Council’s Directors of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark and James Williams.

The government has launched three new levels of restrictions, applicable to the whole country from Wednesday onwards. While we recognise cases are rising across Kent and Medway, at this time, it would appear that Local Authorities in the South East will be classified in the Medium Tier. This is the lowest level possible. This means that residents and businesses in Kent and Medway will not be subject to further restrictions, than are currently in place for areas deemed Medium risk.

We will of course ensure that our outbreak management plans and any actions taken, now align with the Government’s new instructions, and we welcome the publication of their published guidance to support the announcements made yesterday afternoon.

It is more important than ever that residents play their part to help protect themselves and others, particularly the most vulnerable members of the community who are most at risk from severe symptoms, and continue to follow the national guidelines.

We are continuing to work with our partners across Kent, including Public Health England local health protection teams and the NHS, to monitor where cases are occurring and whether there are larger widespread community outbreaks.

There is more testing available across the county and anyone experiencing Covid symptoms should self-isolate immediately and book a test. It is vital that the wider community in Kent continues to play its part and if you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service, then you should follow the guidance given to self-isolate.

We also appeal to people to remember social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing a mask in public places to help keep the number of cases as low as possible. You can now also download the NHS Test and Trace app. For more information go to www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent

The national picture:

The Prime Minister has set out how the government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England.

He confirmed the levels will be set at medium, high, and very high.

The “medium” alert level – which will cover most of the country – will consist of the current national measures, which came into force on 25 September. This includes the Rule of Six, and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.

The “high” alert level will reflect many current local interventions, but there will now be consistency across the country.

The “very high” alert level will apply where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all the available data and the local situation.

Non-essential retail, schools and universities will remain open in all levels.

A postcode checker on gov.uk will show which alert level applies in each area and the NHS COVID-19 app will also direct people to this information.

Regulations for all three local alert levels will be debated and voted on in the House of Commons tomorrow. Subject to that vote tomorrow, they will come into force on Wednesday, subject to the approval of Parliament.

The PM also confirmed that the government will also provide Local Authorities across England with around £1 billion of new financial support.

Full details on what the COVID Alert Levels contain are set out below.

Local COVID Alert Level – Medium

This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. This means:

  • All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
  • Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.
  • Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed
  • People must not meet in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors

Local COVID Alert Level – High

  • This is for areas with a higher level of infections. This means the following additional measures are in place:
  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.
  • People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

Local COVID Alert Level – Very High

This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The Government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures.

The baseline means the below additional measures are in place:

  • Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
  • Wedding receptions are not allowed
  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
  • People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
  • People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.

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Proposals for how special educational needs funding is paid to mainstream schools

Hampshire County Council is seeking feedback on a proposal for changing the way that top-up funding, which provides support for children with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP), is paid to mainstream schools.

an eight-week consultation has opened on ‘Hampshire County Council’s proposed Special Educational Needs (SEN) banding framework for children and young people who have Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs) in mainstream schools’.

Councillor Roz Chadd, the County Council’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “I’d like to make it absolutely clear from the outset that the proposal aims to improve provision for children with an EHCP. It is not intended, or expected, to lead to a reduction in the budget used to fund support identified in Education, Health and Care plans, to be delivered in mainstream schools, or to generate  savings for the County Council.

“We would like to find out what people think about the introduction of a banding framework for schools which allows funding to be tailored to the type and severity of need that a child has.  It could help to ensure the right support is put in place, by schools, for children and young people with SEN, as identified through their EHC assessment and set out in their EHCP.”

The proposal only covers the top-up funding that mainstream schools receive for children with more complex SEN requiring an EHC plan and not the core funding that mainstream schools receive to meet the additional needs of children.

The purpose of the proposed change would be to improve how the budget is allocated to mainstream schools to help them to be flexible and support children with an EHC plan in the most effective way possible. In turn, the aim is to help children and young people become more independent and achieve good outcomes.

If the proposal is agreed, following the consultation, any changes would only affect new applications for support made after the date of a banding framework being implemented. There would then be a phased transition for existing plans at the key annual reviews so that funding was agreed under the new framework

More details:

More details can be found on the consultation web page.. This web page includes an information pack that provides more detail about the proposal and background.   People are asked to read this before giving their views using the online response form that can also be found on the page.

Virtual information events:

In addition, the County Council is planning to host a number of virtual information events where people can ask questions about the proposal. The detail about dates, times and how to join in will be published on the consultation web page when the arrangements have been confirmed.


People have until 23.59 hours on Monday 6 December 2020 to submit their responses to the consultation.

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Historic light restoration work completed

A collaborative project between Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Kent County Council and local contractors, has secured the future of the lights on the historic Stade Street Bridge.

The lights on the bridge in Hythe, were assessed by Kent County Council in 2019 to explore options to upgrade the lanterns to more efficient LED lights. Following this assessment it was noticed that the bases had deteriorated over their fifty year lifetime.

This presented an opportunity to not only upgrade the lamps themselves but secure the future of the light stands, preserving a small part of history for the town.

Following consultation with Historic England, Hythe Town Council and Hythe Civic Society, local contractors Cook Fabrications were selected to restore the bases and bring them back to their former glory.

Cllr David Godfrey, Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Transport and Special Projects, said: “After a lengthy process, we are delighted that the restoration has now been completed and the lights are back on. They can now be enjoyed by residents and visitors for years to come.”

“Kent County Council and their contractor Bouygues have been very supportive of the project and together we were able to preserve part of the history of Hythe, whilst bringing the lanterns into the 21st century.”

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A Gothic Fantasy – Dover’s Maison Dieu Secures £4.27M

Plans for an £8m revival of the Grade I Listed Maison Dieu in Dover town centre are set to go ahead in 2021 thanks to a £4.27m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project will see the restoration of internationally significant decorative schemes by the renowned Victorian neo-Gothic architect, William Burges, a new street-level visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall, along with improved access throughout the building.

The project creates a sustainable future for the Maison Dieu by bringing redundant spaces back into commercial use, including restoring the Mayor’s Parlour as a holiday let in conjunction with The Landmark Trust, and a unique new café in the space once occupied by Victorian gaol cells!

Once complete in 2023 the Maison Dieu will be permanently open to the public for the first time in its 800-year history and contributing to the creation of a heritage quarter in Dover town centre.

The Maison Dieu can trace its history back to the 13th century when it was founded as a medieval hospital and used by pilgrims journeying from continental Europe to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket.

It saw subsequent use as a naval victualling yard and was extensively remodelled in the 19th century by the prominent Victorian architects Ambrose Poynter and William Burges, including the development of civic offices, court room and gaol, and a concert hall.  It is a very rare example of William Burges’ civic work and an important landmark in the Gothic revival style.

The historic building is owned by Dover District Council which is contributing £3m to the project.  Other funders include The Wolfson Foundation, Dover Town Council, and the Dover Society.

Planning permission and listed building consent have been granted, and following further detailed research and design work, the restoration starts in September 2021.  The Maison Dieu will be closed for two years during the restoration.

(Image: Matt Emmett, Forgotten Heritage Photography)

Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are delighted to support this project to permanently open the Maison Dieu for the first time, helping to create a new heritage quarter in the town centre.  We hope that the people of Dover will enjoy discovering more about the building’s fascinating history and its place in the town’s heritage.”

Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive the fantastic news that The National Lottery Heritage Fund has recognised the value of the Maison Dieu as a significant heritage building in Dover town centre.

“The town is rich in history and heritage attractions, but no building tells the story of Dover better than the Maison Dieu.

“Over the past 800 years it’s been adapted to serve new purposes but has always retained strong connections with the local community.  But it’s also become more complex to maintain and has been lost in plain sight, particularly to the many tourists who visit the town.

“Our aim is to revive the Maison Dieu as the centrepiece of a wider regeneration of this part of the town centre where it will be the jewel in the crown, open to the public, and providing an outstanding heritage and cultural venue.”

Dr Anna Keay OBE, Director of the Landmark Trust said: “The Landmark Trust is delighted to be playing a part in the revival of the Maison Dieu. This is a milestone moment for Dover. We look forward to supporting the restoration of this astonishing complex of buildings, and to enabling people to stay in Mayor’s Parlour – and so experience first-hand the outstanding William Burges interiors.”

Olivia Stockdale, Conservation Advisor with the Victorian Society, said: “We are pleased to learn that the Stage Two funding bid for Maison Dieu has been granted. William Burges was one of the leading architects of his day, and this Grade I-listed building is a fantastic example of his work.

“The exterior and interior restorations which this funding will enable are therefore entirely positive and will allow for a fuller appreciation of Burges’ design, and we particularly look forward to the uncovering and reinstatement of the bold interior wall painting.

“This work will benefit not only the people of Dover but all those with an appreciation of Victorian art and architecture.”

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Charter puts cycling at the heart of Chelmsford’s commute

Cycling is at the heart of making Chelmsford’s transport more sustainable. A new charter has been launched, with the aim of showing wide-spread support for safer cycling from Chelmsford’s communities.

All residents, schools, community groups and businesses of Chelmsford are invited to sign the Cycling Charter to show their support for everyday cycling as a way of making the city a better place to live and work in. Sign the charter at: www.chelmsford.gov.uk/chelmsford-cyclingcharter.

Making cycling more accessible will help Chelmsford to tackle challenges like air pollution, congestion and unhealthy lifestyles, as well as relieving pressure on the congested roads of the growing city.

Councillor Jeremy Lager (Chelmsford City Council’s cycling champion) says, “The charter is more than a declaration of intent. It will become a valuable tool to demonstrate the breadth of support from the residents of Chelmsford and the wider community when it comes to arguing for safer space on the crowded roads, and petitioning for a fairer share from a limited County Council Highways budget.

“I know many people who have told me they would love to get around on their bike more, to promote their health and help combat congestion and climate change, only they are too worried about their safety. This charter gives them the opportunity to make their voices heard.”

A Chelmsford Cycle Forum is also being set up with representatives from Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Council, cycling charities, public health, businesses, schools and community groups. It will meet regularly, with the task of promoting the charter high on the agenda.

Find out more at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/chelmsford-cycling-charter.

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New enterprise centre takes another step forward

Plans to create a new enterprise centre in Braintree takes another step forward after councillors approved the financial proposals at a meeting of Braintree District Council’s Full Council last week (Monday, 5 October).

The three-storey centre, to be located on the new Horizon 120 business and innovation park being built at Great Notley, could be built to support local start-ups as well as help small businesses innovate, develop and grow. It will be a place where businesses can collaborate, access support and advice and build-up knowledge and skills.

The ambition is to create a state-of-the-art, energy efficient complex with shared meeting rooms, flexible work spaces, conference and training facilities and offices for smaller businesses to grow into.

Plans for the building include a roof terrace where workers can enjoy views over the countryside and country park. A café or restaurant, with a plaza area, is also being considered to serve employees working at the park and residents living in the local area.

It is intended to create up to 150 new jobs a year.

The funding is being partly provided by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership which has been allocated £7 million (in principle) from the Government’s “Getting Building Fund.” The Council intends to fund the balance once this grant has been paid.

The budget allocation is subject to the “Getting Building” grant being released and approval of the business case which will be discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday, 21 October and by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership on Friday, 20 November.

Subject to the approvals, building work could begin early next year.

Cllr Cunningham, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure at Braintree District Council, said: “This is an exciting and innovative proposal which will not only encourage business growth, but also beyond that provide long term business support to enable that growth. This investment will lead to a wider residual benefit which will benefit the local area for many years to come.”

Cllr McKee, Cabinet Member for Corporate Transformation at Braintree District Council, said: “This state-of-the-art complex will be a great proposition for small and start-up businesses looking to grow and expand. Our commitment to this project shows that we are doing our part in creating jobs and building skills and generating the momentum needed to help our local economy recover in the wake of this pandemic.”

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Finding families for children in need of a loving home

This National Adoption Week (12–18 October, 2020), Adoption South East is highlighting the need to find families for some of the most vulnerable children within our region, the children who wait the longest for a loving home. These include those in sibling groups, older children, children with complex health needs and also children from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

In the UK, there are almost 3,000 children who are in need of an adoptive family – yet the number of adoptions in England has fallen by a third in four years.

Last month a new national adoption recruitment campaign #YouCanAdopt was launched to raise awareness about adoption and bust myths around who is eligible to adopt and to encourage more people to register their interest. Applications are welcome from people aged 21 and above, regardless of marital status, race, disability, sexuality or gender.

Michael Wilson, Head of Adoption South East, said: “We want to use the national #YouCanAdopt campaign and National Adoption Week as an opportunity to bust some of the myths surrounding adoption. We need adoptive parents from all backgrounds who are compassionate, resilient and willing to give a child a safe and loving home to help them flourish.

“If you are considering adopting, I would encourage you to get in touch. You can chat with one of our friendly team, ask a question online or request an invitation to one of our regular online information events. Meanwhile, there is lots of helpful information on our website about how the adoption process works.”

Ruth, an adoptive parent from the South East region, explains why she and her partner Mike decided to adopt. She said: “Mike and I had talked about adopting when we first got together, however we went on to have two children and it wasn’t until they were a bit older that we started to think again about adoption. I’m white and Mike is black so we wanted to adopt a child who reflected our, and our children’s, mixed heritage.

“We adopted our daughter earlier this year and our three children have had an amazing time getting to know each other over the lockdown period. We’ve had the support from Adoption South East whenever we’ve needed it and we feel really lucky to have had such a positive experience with our daughter settling into our family.”

Adoption South East brings together the adoption services from West Sussex County Council, East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove Council and Surrey County Council, making is easier to find permanent homes for children who need them across the whole region.

Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at West Sussex County Council, said: “Dispelling the many misconceptions around who can adopt is really important in breaking down the barriers which often prevent people from applying. I would encourage anyone considering adoption to contact our adoption service, who can discuss how adoption can work for you and your family.”

Find out more about adopting a child in West Sussex on the Adoption South East website.

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30 minute free parking concession extended

Shoppers and visitors to town centres will continue to have 30 minutes free parking added to their parking tickets until 10 January.

Councillors agreed to continue giving an additional 30 minutes free parking at last night’s full council meeting.

The concession was initially introduced in July to give people more time to carry essential jobs in high streets, which could take longer due to businesses needing to comply with coronavirus safety measures.

Cllr Richard Palmer, cabinet member for communities at Swale Borough Council, said:

“With people needing to social distance, there are more queues in our high streets, and it does take longer for individuals to undertake their business.

“Extending this concession until the New Year will help encourage people to stay longer, and hopefully make use of the local businesses which are so important in our town centres.

“There is no doubt that for many residents there is a confidence issue for residents to get back out using the town centre.

“But measures like this, and the pedestrianisation of town centres, mean people can visit safely, keep their distance and help us stop the spread.”

Enforcement officers will continue to add an extra 30 minutes to the expiry time when checking tickets in windows and will also be applied to users of RingGo.

The concession applies to all council car parks except the Bourne Place Multi Storey Car Park, as this is a pay on return, barriered car park and such a concession cannot be applied.

Council Website

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