Our additional support for families and businesses this Christmas

Some of the food supplied by Sunnyside Supplies to local residents earlier this year

Councillors met last week in an urgent Cabinet meeting to ensure that families and businesses across the borough receive the additional support they need this Christmas.

Following a high profile campaign led by the footballer Marcus Rashford, and after being embarassed by councils like Rotherham over the government’s failure to provide free school meals during October half term, the government gave a late grant to the council to prevent a repeat – and we’ve acted quickly to make sure local people benefit.

Because of the decision we took last week:

  • All eligible children in the borough will receive vouchers to the value of free school meals for both the Christmas and February half term holidays
  • There will be additional support for the Rotherham Food in Crisis Partnership Christmas appeal, which is expected to provide food for 300 families requiring support this Christmas
  • Support with the purchase of school uniforms will be extended to more families facing financial difficulties – families with children who are either entitled to free school meals, or who receive Pupil Premium will be contacted directly about this
  • £250,000 will support households in financial need who are facing unexpected or unaffordable bills to prevent them from falling into financial crisis, subject to engagement and support from the Council’s Advocacy and Appeals service or partners

This latest package of measures follows on from decisions taken earlier in the year to give those in need additional help with their council tax bills, providing crisis food deliveries, and supplying non-food items such as kitchen items. The council works with our local Citizens Advice Bureau and other partners such as Kiveton Park Advice Centre to reach those who need support the most.

If you’re worried about your circumstances this Christmas, please get in touch and get the help you’re entitled to, either by completing the online form or by calling 01709 807319.

At the same time, we’ve also extended support for businesses that have been hit by Coronavirus, with a focus on small businesses, the self-employed, people who work for themselves from home or from mobile premises, and who have been excluded by national support schemes. Even if you haven’t been eligible from support previously and haven’t been forced to close, if your business has been adversely affected by Covid over the last few months we would encourage you to get in touch via this form on the council’s website to ensure you get the financial support that’ there for you.

Commenting on the meeting, Cllr Chris Read said;

“It can be stressful time in any year, but the impacts of the COVID pandemic means that having what might be regarded as a normal Christmas is going to be difficult for many vulnerable and low-income families. After everything else that’s happened, this shouldn’t be the year to be worrying about the lack of free school meals, the cost of a new school jumper, or an unexpected electricity bill. Hopefully, by using this grant funding quickly, we can ease some of those worries and make sure that every child in the borough has the Christmas they deserve.  

“At the same time, whilst we hope this small grant funding will give a little relief to the self-employed or others who have fallen through the cracks of other business support funding, we are acutely aware that it is only a little bit of relief. That is why I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government calling for a commitment to provide further support to areas like Rotherham, which have experienced a longer period of Tier 3 restrictions than most of the country.”

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First resident of the month named…

As part of our Neighbourhoods work, we’ve been asking you to help us to recognise the contributions of people in the community who have been doing remarkable things. Last week we really pleased to be able to reward someone who has made a daily contribution to help keep our area free of litter and looking its best. You can find out who by clicking here!

You can find out more about our Neighbourhoods work and how we’re spending our local ward budgets via a new page on the council’s website: please click here.

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Work on new bunaglow sites set to start soon

Works on five sites for new bungalows which were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic are expected to begin within the next three weeks.

We reported previously on the proposals to develop small sites in our area for new properties that will be owned and managed by the Arches Housing Association, but which will provide homes to people who are currently waiting on the council’s housing list.

The sites on Greenwood Crescent, Hornbeam Road, Craig Walk (off Howard Road), and Chestnut Close (two sites) will together see 12 new bungalows built over the course of the next year. The bungalows will meet the needs of elderly people and potentially those with disabilities as well.

Plans to build on the garage site at Willow Close we dropped following our representations and concerns about inadequate parking in the area.

UPDATE: 13th December, some snapshots of the works having started off Hornbeam Road and Greenwood Crescent:

The site between Hornbeam Road and Markfield Drive
The former garage site on Greenwood Crescent
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Coronavirus lockdown rules

From this week, the government has imposed national lockdown rules as the number of people infected with Coronavirus has continued to rise.

The current rules, in place until December 2nd, mean that:

  • Pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops, many leisure facilities, and ‘personal services’ businesses such as hairdressers are required to close
  • You are advised to stay at home as much as possible. Everyone is asked not to socialise with people outside their own households or support bubbles
  • Anyone who can work from home should do so, and reduce their journeys wherever they can

Places of worship are also closed for acts of collective worship, meaning that weddings cannot take place, and there are restrictions affecting funerals.

However, unlike the lockdown earlier this year:

  • Schools and colleges will remain open
  • There are no limits on the time you can take each day for outdoor exercie, and you can exercise with another person so long as you socially distance
  • People who cannot work from home are able to go into work, which means that some businesses and workplaces will continue to operate
  • Public transport will continue to operate
  • Many shops, including pubs, can choose to operate a takeaway only service

You can read the government guidance by clicking here.

With regards to council services, most will continue to operate but with the following exceptions:

  • Leisure centres and swimming pools which must close
  • Some facilities at Rother Valley and Clifton Park, including Clifton Park Museum, are now closed
  • Libraries including Wickersley are operating a call and collect service again
  • Markets will be open for essential retail only
  • Tomorrow’s Remembrance service will take place online – please click here to view this.

This week we saw the possible first evidence in a slowdown in the number of people infected with Coronavirus in Rotherham following the introduction of recent restrictions. However, we still saw more than 1,300 residents testing positive across the borough, which is hundreds more than only a few weeks ago, and puts Rotherham amongst the worst affected places in the country. Of particular concern it seems that the number of older people falling ill is still continuing to rise.

Last week there were more than 130 patients in Rotherham Hospital suffering from Covid-19 – which is nearly twice as many as at the highest point during the first wave. The number of patients has decreased a little since then, but this continues to affect other services.

Sadly the number of people who have died from Coronavirus in Rotherham continues to rise, and now stands at over 380.

We continue to do all that we can as your local team to support people through these difficult times, including supporting the Sunnyside Supplies scheme making sure that everyone can get food. Our Rotherham Heroes scheme has kept running throughout and is being stepped up to support those identified as “clinically extremely vulnerable” – if you are one of those people you will receive a letter through the post from the council. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to contact the team.

We are also working to ensure that local businesses can access financial support to get them through the current time, and more information about this will be posted on the council’s website in the coming days.

As we have throughout, we would urge you to check the council’s Coronavirus information regularly, and to sign up for the email newsletters at: www.rotherham.gov.uk/coronavirus.

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Lidget Lane recycling centre now open seven days a week

Cllr Emma Hoddinott at Lidget Lane

From this weekend, all of Rotherham’s Household Waste Recycling Centre will be open seven days a week, delivering on a commitment made by Labour councillors earlier this year.

In our council budget in February we set out plans for a £1.7 million investment to help keep the streets clean, which included seven day opening of the sites. Despite everything that’s happened since then we’ve been determined to deliver on this.

During the winter months Lidget Lane will now be open between 10am and 4pm every day. During summer opening hours will be 10am to 6.30pm.

We hope that the additional opening hours will help to assist with pressure on the sites where social distancing measures are still required to keep everyone safe during Covid – something we hadn’t seen coming back at the start of this year! For more information please click here.

Cllr Emma Hoddinott is pictured above visiting the site yesterday to speak with management from FCC, the company who operate the sites on behalf of the council.

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