BDC News March 30th

Mar 31, 2020
stay home save lives

Hey everyone.

We know these are difficult and uncertain times. We want to reassure you we’re still here working, and here to help and support you. 

As a result of government instructions to stay at home we have changed the way we deliver some of our services. We will be updating this page and our social media channels as soon as there are any changes to our services that may affect you.

Stay safe and well and thank you for your understanding during this time. 


Stay at home guidance

The government has updated their guidance on staying at home and away from others.

These are now their four reasons for leaving your home address: 

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. They have produced a handy FAQ outlining how you can help and importantly, how to do this safely.
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

Community Shield – getting food and supplies to our most vulnerable

Last Friday, Essex County Council announced it is supporting the national effort to get food and supplies to the County’s most vulnerable residents.

The Essex Resilience Forum (ERF) made up of all the county public sector organisations, is tasked with ensuring that people with the most serious health conditions across – Essex, Southend and Thurrock - are shielded from social contact for 12 weeks during the peak of the epidemic. These people have been contacted already by the NHS and offered food package deliveries.

A distribution hub has been set up by Essex County Council in Witham in central Essex, with 2 other hubs set up by Southend and Thurrock Councils. At the weekend, food deliveries from these hubs began to be dispatched to the most vulnerable residents.

Given the importance of social distancing and the most at risk being able to stay in their homes, ERF members and the voluntary sector are also mobilising resources across the county to provide assistance to a larger group. These are residents who are also vulnerable during the peak of the epidemic, and include residents over the age of 70 and pregnant women, and who do not have the support of friends, family or neighbours.

These residents will be contacted from Tuesday (31st March) by the NHS or their GP surgeries.

For those people who do not have the support of friends, families and neighbours, they can register with the Essex Welfare Service (EWS), part of PROVIDE (a health and social care provider), should they need food deliveries. People can sign up for help or to volunteer via their website.

Updates will be posted on the Essex County Council website www.essex.gov.uk/coronavirus.


Coronavirus volunteering: Your neighbours need YOU!

Essex County Council has issued a rallying call to everyone in Essex to help your neighbours and volunteer to support the county’s most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis.

There are a huge range of ways you can help at the moment. Calling in on neighbours to check if they are okay, picking up shopping, fetching prescriptions and walking dogs are all ways you can support others around Essex and within your own local area. 

If you want to volunteer in your local area, we are encouraging you to do so using the links below. Please then stand by to be called on.

If you haven't already heard, Essex County Council set up the Essex Coronavirus Action Support Group on Facebook, working with local community Facebook group admins to create a group of volunteers willing to help those in need.

The Facebook group has already encouraged 3,000 people to register as volunteers, but more are still needed.

If you are already supporting your neighbours, friends and family, you should follow the government's latest social distancing rules. This means not going into other people’s houses and leaving supplies on doorsteps if needed.

Updates about the volunteering scheme will be posted on the Essex Coronavirus Action Support group on Facebook.


Council Tax, Business Rates and Benefits

As you can imagine, our Council Tax, Business Rates and Benefits teams are receiving a high volume of enquiries. 

If you have a query about your council tax please e-mail our team at counciltax@braintree.gov.uk rather than call so that we are able to respond to your query quickly.

If you have a query about your business rates, please e-mail our team  at busrates@braintree.gov.uk.

Government guidance is that residents still need to pay their council tax, but if you need financial support to pay, our Council Tax Support scheme is there to help you. You can find out more details on our website. 


Recycling sacks and missed bin collections

If you need some more recycling sacks, you can order these via our website. To help us manage this service, please only request additional sacks if you do not have enough to last you until your next collection date. 

If you have a missed bin collection, you can report this to us via our website. 


Closure of play areas and outdoor gyms

play areas

We’ve closed our play areas and outdoor gyms until further notice for the safety of our residents and staff, to maintain social distancing and to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

We have received a number of enquiries that people are ignoring the signs we put up to make people aware of these closures, and are still congregating in these areas. If you have concerns about people congregating, please call the local police on 101, who have been given temporary powers to disperse people in these public areas.

Please remember that we have to put the safety of our communities first, particularly our vulnerable residents. Making children keep to the recommended two metres distance in a busy playground or play area is difficult, and the play equipment, which is used by a large number of small hands, is unable to be disinfected and so represents a high cross-contamination risk of the virus.

We are keeping our public spaces open at the moment, to give people space to walk, exercise once a day, and to help their mental wellbeing. If you visit one of our public spaces, please do follow the Government’s social distancing guidance. It is crucial that we all adhere to this guidance.

Let's remember - Stay Safe. Stay Home. Save Lives.