Monmouthshire County Council working “flat out” to provide services through pandemic
30th March 2020
Monmouthshire County Council is functioning around the clock to support communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With residents urged to stay safe and stay home to minimise the spread of coronavirus, councillors, staff and volunteers are working exceptionally hard to ensure key services continue to operate. Everyone, including the most vulnerable residents in the community, are being supported at this difficult time though there have been some inevitable disruptions to services to enable the council to focus on keeping the county’s residents safe.
Home carers continue to visit people and provide necessary care, while meals are delivered to provide food and a friendly face to residents in need. Free school meals are provided to ensure that eligible students have access to a nutritious lunch each day.
No changes have been made to waste collections and the council has requested residents to recycle as much as possible. All household waste recycling centres and Llanfoist’s Reuse Shop will be closed until further notice. In addition, new registrations for the garden waste service and the bulky waste collection service have been suspended. Specific local shops and supermarkets will stock Monmouthshire’s recycling bags for residents to collect.
All schools have been closed and seven key worker hubs have been set up to provide childcare for key workers. These are sited in Abergavenny’s Deri View Primary and Llanfoist Primary, Dewstow Primary in Caldicot, Rogiet Primary, Thornwell Primary in Chepstow, Monmouth’s Overmonnow Primary and Raglan Primary.
Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “I am grateful for the work that is taking place across Monmouthshire to support children of key workers and our vulnerable learners. These are exceptional times and the way in which we do this will change and develop in the coming days, but we are committed to providing this support in a resilient and sustainable way.”
The council has urged ratepayers to get in touch if they experience difficulty paying council tax – it may be possible to spread instalments over 12 months to reduce monthly payments or defer initial instalments to a later date. It can also look into the potential entitlement to Council Tax Reduction and free school meals for those on a low income or receiving benefits such as Universal Credit.
The council is aiding businesses by undertaking daily payment runs and paying all invoices on the date approved rather than when they fall due, thus ensuring suppliers receive their money as quickly as possible. It has also published a newsletter on its website to advise businesses about how they can help to enable invoices to be paid swiftly.
The council will administer Welsh Government business grants and will process them as soon as possible. The county’s businesses are advised to check their eligibility by visiting the Welsh Government’s COVID-19 business grants website. The Welsh Government will offer guidance on financial support for businesses not covered by these grants.
Most businesses with a rateable value of between £12,000 and £51,000 can receive support for all premises. Businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less can receive support, subject to a maximum of two properties. Meanwhile, businesses are urged to submit their details via the online form on the council’s website to ensure information is up to date.
The council’s community hubs in Abergavenny, Monmouth, Chepstow, Caldicot and Usk are all closed, as is Gilwern Library. In addition, all community education services have been suspended.
Monmouthshire’s tourist information centres are closed, but the service may be accessed by phone and email:
· Abergavenny Tourist Information Centre – 07854 997541
· Chepstow Tourist Information Centre – 01291 623772
Comprehensive visitor information is available on the VisitMonmouthshire.com website but the council’s key message for its tourism base is: ‘Please do not visit Monmouthshire at this time. Stay safe at home, and we’ll be here with a warm welcome when this is all over. Dream Now, Visit Later.’
Office-based staff are working remotely via the Microsoft teams system. Meanwhile, call volumes into the council’s contact centre have been high so more staff have been redeployed into this area to provide support.
The council has set up an emergency response team which meets daily to deal with issues as they arise, while information to the public has been provided by a dedicated web section – as well as its Facebook and Twitter social media channels. All building closures are itemised here.
The council’s licensing team has ensured that closures to pubs and restaurants are followed in line with government policy. It has also closed the county’s taxi ranks.
Cold nights have meant that gritting teams have been busy patrolling the county’s roads to ensure they’re safe for motorists. This is particularly important for key workers and emergency services who need to drive to carry out their duties.
All MonLife leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth are closed but no payment will be taken from direct debit members while they remain shut. Additionally, memberships have been automatically frozen so customers will not be affected adversely. Also, MonLife has created a YouTube channel – which will regularly feature videos promoting fitness.
MonLife youth clubs and youth centres are also closed but youth workers will remain active online to offer necessary support and information. Young people and their families can contact them using the online form.
Council Leader Peter Fox said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with an extraordinary and unprecedented crisis but I’m proud of how all areas are working flat out to support people. Key workers continue to deliver essential services and I’d like to thank all employees as well as volunteers for their sterling efforts to keep us safe. It’s wonderful to see the many voluntary groups that are being set up all across the county. If anyone would like to get involved please contact: [email protected]
“This is such a worrying time for people. My thoughts are with you and we are here to support you. Comprehensive advice for businesses is available here. If anyone is worried about their council tax you can find information here.
“I’d also like to thank the vast majority of Monmouthshire’s residents, businesses and organisations who have adjusted to this very difficult time by staying at home and maintaining social distancing. Continue to stay safe and stay home so together we can defeat COVID-19.”
Issued by Dewi Jones, Communications Officer