Community fights back against Covid-19
PUBLISHED: 12:49 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:49 24 March 2020
Residents offering to volunteer to help others in the borough are being welcomed by the council.
The authority and Bexley Voluntary Service Council are working together to support Bexley residents who are able to give their time to support vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Any resident wanting to help should look at Bexley’s Volunteer Hub - BVSC’s volunteering scheme - which will match you with local charities, community groups and local people who need help.
Register at the Volunteer Hub at https://bvsc.co.uk/covid-19
The council said no matter what skills you have to offer, where you’re based in Bexley or how much – or little – time you have to spare, if you’ve volunteered before, or even if you have self-isolated, there are charities and community groups who will welcome your help.
“The pandemic is creating extra challenges for many vulnerable people, so I urge anyone who has the time and is able to help to share your details with the Volunteer Hub,” said council leader Teresa O’Neill.
“We are very pleased to be working with BVSC on this scheme, because they are a well-established organisation working closely with Bexley’s fantastic voluntary community groups. They can direct you to the people and places that need your help most. ”
And a council spokesman said: “We’re working closely with our NHS colleagues to ensure that our residents have up-to-date information and advice about Coronavirus. Our priority is to ensure that our most vulnerable residents have access to the services and support they need and to maintain other essential services.”
As the number of positive Covid-19 cases in Bexley passes 40, the council is making free parking available across the borough to key workers during the pandemic.
This includes those employed by the police and other emergency services, together with carers and volunteers who are using their vehicle to help the wider community.
“This is one of a range of steps we are taking to help control the spread of Coronavirus and maintain support for the most vulnerable,” explained Councillor Peter Craske, Bexley’s cabinet member for places.
A vehicle must be registered first using this link to an e-form.
The council said once an application is approved, the vehicle details will be uploaded to the handheld system used by the borough’s parking enforcement officers.
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The authority said key workers who are helping the wider community during the pandemic will benefit from free parking for their vehicle in all Bexley car parks, parks, on-street paid for parking and other waiting bays, loading bays, single yellow lines and within CPZs, without fear of getting a ticket.
The scheme does not include parking in disabled bays, on double yellow lines or parking on pavements.
The council has also changed the way it deals with refuse collections by suspending the weekly separate food waste collection and the collection of garden waste. Some other collections will now be monthly including blue and white lids. Green lids remains fortnightly.
Cllr Craske is calling on people to cut waste, and says: “This is an unprecedented situation and we will be monitoring the situation to ensure we provide the best possible service within the available resources.”
Its waste and recycling centres are now closed.
Because of the difficulties, the council said it will not take any court action for debt against residents and businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Council leader Teresa O’Neill said: “We understand that this is very stressful for everyone and our primary concern right now is for the people of Bexley and how we can support them in this very challenging situation. So we have taken the decision to suspend all our court action for debt and will not be pursuing people while this situation lasts.”
It said businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will receive 100 per cent rate relief for 2020/21 regardless of the rateable value. They will not need to pay business rates for 2020/21.
And businesses who receive Small Business Rate Relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant in 2020/21 on top of their existing relief.
The council added that those in retail, hospitality and leisure sector in small premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 may be entitled to a grant of £25,000 pending further guidance being made available from the government.
NHS Blood and Transplant said they need donors to keep coming, and a spokesman said: “Our sessions and donor centres are still open. Travel to blood donation sessions is essential to the NHS. Our stock levels are currently good but we need people to keep donating to make sure hospitals continue to receive the blood they need. Regular donation will help us to be well prepared to support the wider NHS for the impact of the coronavirus. We have seen an increase in calls from people asking if sessions are going ahead and people asking questions about coronavirus. “We’re putting in place extra safety measures.”
The National Crime Agency has also warned organised crime groups will exploit the coronavirus outbreak to target vulnerable people.
Steve Rodhouse, NCA director general said: “We recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak may provide opportunities for criminals, and we are monitoring intelligence and crime trends to ensure that we, and the whole law enforcement system, can react as needed.”
Its cyber-crime investigators have already seen instances of coronavirus-themed malicious apps and websites, as well as email phishing attacks aimed at stealing personal and financial information.
The NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit is advising people to be extra vigilant when seeking out online information relating to the pandemic and to ensure they are following online safety advice which can be found on the National Cyber Security Centre website.