The situation over the last week has developed rapidly, and the government has now issued strong guidance in order to protect the public. Already in the UK more than 200 people have died, and indications from other parts of the world suggest that we are far from the end of the pandemic. We would strongly urge residents to take the government’s advice seriously, to remain at home if they are in at at risk group, and to isolate at home for at least seven days if they experience any symptoms, or for at least 14 days if they are living with anyone experiencing symptoms.

As Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Read issued the following statement earlier in the week;

“These are unprecedented times and no one should doubt the seriousness of the situation. The coronavirus pandemic will define the way of life for everyone, individually and as a society – locally, nationally, globally – for the immediate and foreseeable future. The Council’s priority, alongside our partners, is the protection of life and we will all have an individual role to play in that.

“We will be guided by the latest national and international advice coming from our leading scientists and public health specialists, but underpinning our response will be the resilience, kindness and community spirit for which Rotherham is renowned.

“I want to pay tribute to the public servants who are once again rising to the occasion. It is in the most difficult of circumstances that we see the invaluable role that our public services play in maintaining our way of life. But the public should be in no doubt that our public servants are also local residents, they fall ill like the rest of us, and prioritising their efforts at a time of enormous pressure on services will mean that we cannot simply operate business as usual.

“I would urge residents to follow the latest guidance from the government, to act responsibly, and I thank them for their patience and endurance over the coming weeks and months.”

Council services are now being affected by the new rules and the need to prioritise activity. At the moment, all Children’s Centres, Clifton Park Museum, all council leisure centres and Crowden Outdoor centre are all closed. Others are likely to change over the coming weeks. The council will be providing more information on its website here.

From tomorrow, all schools will be closed to most children, except those with specific needs, or whose parents are key workers. Wickersley School has provided useful information on their website here.

Public transport will be running on a reduced timetable from this week. Please click here for more information.

Shopping: We are aware that increasing numbers of people will need to stay at home, and we will be doing all we can to ensure that they don’t run out of essential supplies. We would urge everyone no to panic buy in the shops – just get what you need. Every person buying more than they require is taking food and supplies away from vulnerable people. We have collated information about our local shops and supplies, including information about home deliveries, which you can find by clicking here.

Contacting us: If you are experiencing difficulties over the coming weeks, we are available to assist wherever we can. If you are experiencing difficulties due to being self-isolated please let us know. You can contact us in all the usual ways however during this period we in order to help reduce the likelihood of infections we will not being holding face to face surgeries. Instead we will be available during our usual surgery times by telephone, and we are also making additional times available:

  • During surgeries usually held at Wickersley Library or Bramley Parish Hall, please call 01709 540497
  • During surgeries usually held at Sunnyside Community Centre or Mark Grove Neighbourhood Centre please call 01709 822465
  • Every day between Monday and Friday, 9am to 10am, Cllr Sue Ellis will be taking calls on 01709 540497
  • This coming Monday, March 23rd, between 6pm and 7pm Cllr Emma Hoddinott will be trialling an online advice surgery using Zoom, which you can take part in either online via webcam or by telephone. Please click here to register and you will receive further information.

You can also find Emma on Facebook where she will be providing video updates, the most recent one is here.

John Healey MP will also be conducting his advice surgeries by telephone.

The coming weeks and month will be very difficult. We will use this website to keep you up to date as much as we can. Please take care of yourself and those around you.

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Recent round up

Presenting a cheque to Sunnyside Community centre

Over the last few weeks we have been making progress on some of our local priorities, funded through our delegated ward budget. Above we are pictured presenting a cheque to Sunnyside Community Centre, to support measures they need to secure the property. The centre, which provides an invaluable space, has repeatedly fallen victim to vandalism over the last year.

Supporting Silverwood Heritage Colliery Group

Back in February, Sue and Emma met with members of the Silverwood Heritage Colliery Group, who have come together to help to keep our local pit history alive. We were able to support them with a £250 grant that will contribute to resources such as pull up banners and display boards. They’re doing a great job – do check out their Facebook page.

Northfield Lane Eco Warriers

Finally we caught up with pupils at Northfield Lane School who have been learning about our natural environment. They were able to show us their nature garden. We have been able to support their activities with new litter pickers and bird feeders.

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Local elections postponed

Over the last few weeks we have been preparing for the local council elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections which were due to take place on May 7th.

In light of the developing coronavirus situation, the government has now announced that those elections will not be taking place until May 2021.

The Labour Party nationally has also decided to suspend all campainging activity.

Changes to ward boundaries, and the reduction in the number of councillors across the borough, are accordingly also delayed until next year.

There will be further practical issues that need to be resolved as a result of the government’s decision, but please be assured that we will continue to serve the community to the best of our ability through the coming year.

We were looking forward to making our case through the election campaign, but it is right that public safety should come first.

You can find the latest advice from the NHS in relation to coronavirus by clicking here, and the latest information from the government by clicking here. We would encourage all residents to follow official advice in order to stay safe over the coming weeks and months.

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Council budget to Build a Better Borough

Councillors met this week to formalise the council’s budget for the coming year.

Over the last ten years, the Conservatives have forced £200 million of cuts on Rotherham Council. Nearly 2,000 jobs have been lost as a direct result. And as we said on Wednesday, that has been a deliberate choice, not something that happened by chance.

Despite that, because of the difficult choices we have made over the last few years, this year’s budget does give us some opportunities to respond to the needs of residents. Labour’s plans include:

  • A £1.7 million package for cleaner streets; more weed removal, new equipment for Streetpride, and returning to seven day opening for household waste sites including our local site at Lidget Lane
  • £24 million for road resurfacing over the coming four years to halve the number of potholes in the borough’s roads. This will be the biggest investment in road resurfacing in Rotherham for decades
  • £10 million more next year for Children’s and Adults’ Social Care
  • Investing in every library in the borough, including Wickersley – whereas under the Tories more than 800 libraries have closed across the country
  • More on-street youth work in every part of the borough – under the Tories youth services nationally have been cut by 70%
  • A new seven day-a-week noise nuisance service, which should help to address some of the issues faced by residents in our area, including late night noise from pubs and licensed premises
  • More staff to cut telephone waiting times at the council
  • Scrapping planned cuts to subsidised bus services. Evening and Sunday X10 services are due to be re-tendered in the coming year, and we want to ensure that bus users in our area don’t lose out again.

Together, this practical package of measures should help to ensure that more residents across the borough benefit from council services. They were supported by councillors across party lines, including Brexit Party and Independent councillors, with the exception of the one Liberal Democrat councillor.

During the debate, Cllr Chris Read said;

Five years ago, when I first delivered a budget speech in this chamber, this council was in crisis.

Today, our Children’s Services are transformed, our council rebuilt.

But building a better council was only the beginning. Because none of us are here simple to be administrators.

We’re here to represent our communities and to improve the lives of the people we serve.

And now the building blocks for something bigger are in place.

Social care services to meet the need of our most vulnerable.

An economy that is creating jobs, attracting investment, and tackling poverty pay.

More affordable housing, better roads and a decent local environment.

Working in every neighbourhood and valuing every place.

The aim was never just to build a better council. The aim has always been to build a better borough.

You can watch Cllr Chris Read’s introduction and the debate that followed through the webcast above.

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Have your say on library plans

The council’s new draft library strategy – which includes investing in library buildings and facilities – is now out for the final stage of public consultation.

There will be two local drop in sessions at Wickersley Library when you can speak to council staff about the proposals and help to shape the final strategy:

  • Thursday 19th March, between 4pm and 7pm
  • Tuesday 24th March, between 1pm and 3pm

You can also read more and have your say via the council’s website by clicking here.

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