STATEMENT about Covid-19 from the Leader of Winchester City Council, Cllr Lucille Thompson.

Cllr Thompson said: “I wanted to take the opportunity to share the work the council is doing to support all of those who live and work in our district.

“People must stay at home other than for essential travel in line with the Government’s public health guidance, but we know this is having a significant impact on how we all live and interact. The city council is here providing advice, alongside new and existing services, to offer residents the practical assistance they need over this period and beyond. Our focus is especially on helping those who need it most, and people and businesses experiencing financial difficulties.

“In the last week we have set up a Local Response Centre to support the most vulnerable people in our district working with the county council to provide a support to those in self-isolation or suffering with a critical illness. People who are in need of advice or support can call hantshelp4vulnerable on 0333 370 4000. This is available from 9am to 5pm and the phone lines operate seven days a week.

“Our fabulous voluntary sector is also here to help and if you or a neighbour just need a hand, you can find details of local organisations who can assist on our website.

“Over this time, we all pay tribute to the selfless dedication of our extraordinary NHS workers. There are other key workers too, who are continuing to serve in order to keep vital services going. I have been touched by the notes residents have sent in to say thank you to those who are delivering frontline services for the city council, including our bin collection teams and those who continue to assist the most vulnerable amongst us.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to all the individuals and groups coming together to support neighbours and those who most need a helping hand through this constantly changing period. This extraordinary caring, community spirit is something we can all be proud of and this is what will see us through together to brighter days.

“The council has dedicated website pages for all current Covid-19 information: but let me give you some examples of what we are doing.”

• Household waste and recycling collections are running to schedule with around 95,000 collections every week – that’s around 19,000 daily - since the outbreak first led to household isolation. We’ve asked you to help crews by putting your bin early – all the latest information on waste collection service is here:

• Council Tax support and benefits – our teams are providing support and advice on payment plans to help people concerned about paying their Council Tax. Advice is available on what benefits people may be entitled to.

• Providing accommodation for homeless people – local and known rough sleepers have been offered accommodation and specialised support teams are monitoring the situation daily to ensure any new rough sleepers arriving in Winchester are also safely supported off the streets.

• Business rates relief and grants – 2,700 businesses have been contacted to ensure they are aware of business rate relief and business grant availability. To date (Tues 7 April), the council has received 1,100 grant applications, and already distributed £6.07m to 380 business applicants.

• Business e-newsletters distributed to businesses setting out the full range of support available for businesses at this time.

• We have been working with local business support service IncuHive to provide free online mentoring and e-learning for small businesses and home workers dealing with the impact of Covid-19. Visit for more information.

• Our Park & Ride service continues but with a reduced timetable to help essential travel for key workers to continue.

• Although we have had to close play parks and pitches in line with national guidance, our parks and open spaces are being maintained to enable residents to benefit from their one hour of exercise.It is essential that the two metre social distancing guidance is followed.

• The council is open for business by phone, email or through online digital services – there is a phone in place at Colebrook Street reception.

• We are still carrying essential repairs to council houses but all routine maintenance has been rescheduled.

• We have contacted all our residents in sheltered accommodation to keep them safe and cared for

• Parking – we have provided spaces without charge in Park & Ride car parks and Tower Street car park for NHS workers, police and other key workers so they can access their work as easily as possible.