COBR Meeting Notes – 24/03/2021
Attendees; Cllr David Tutt, Cllr Robert Smart, Darrell Gale, Inspector Rachel Barrow, Alan Bruzon, Paul Corney, Tim Whelan, Tim Cobb, Annemarie Field and Graeme Bunn.
Apologies from Caroline Ansell, Nick Taylor (a written update from the MPs office will follow), 3VA, Miles Berkley, Stephen Holt and the EHA.
Darrell Gale PHE / NHS Update
Weekly Infection Rate
EB hit low infection numbers at 13 a couple of week s ago (well down from 1034 at the height) but figures have increased to 33 in EB since schools went back. Also there was an outbreak in Lewes prison. Numbers are still low however; Crawley, Arun, Chichester areas are higher.
Super output areas here are Ratton and East of Seaford. Clusters tend to be around schools. Primary schools are conducting lateral flow tests which are very important. Childrens symptoms include diarrhoea and headache (not symptoms experienced by adults). Families must isolate if anyone tests positive.
Zero deaths in EB last week and very low deaths for 3 weeks which is great.
There is also a real reduction in flu deaths this winter due to social distancing.
EB is doing better than most in younger age groups, less well in older age groups. Still concentrating on getting older age groups in. AstraZeneca supply is expected to dip in April. Under 50s have received cancellations for these reasons.
This is an NHS programme which is showing fantastic rates of inoculation with much valued volunteers too. Now planning staffing for longer term vaccination programme.
Previously hesitant residents are now coming forward for vaccination because they are hearing good reports from their friends and neighbours. This is necessary for herd immunity. PHE are happy with overall numbers vaccinated.
EB Tennis Planning
PHE are working on a Risk Assessment with the LTA. Also working with public transport, town centre management, and others to manage return from lockdown.
Rachel Barrow Police Update
Good to hear about vaccine data. Police are supporting these centres with general policing and any potential terrorist threat.
Staff numbers are back on an even keel, although there is a backlog of leave which will be carried over to 2022. They are aware of the welfare impact on staff working long hours under pressure.
Town Centre ASB, begging and street drinking is up. They are focusing on this as the town centre reopens.
Contingency plan in place in East Sussex. They are not expected a protest in Eastbourne, more likely in Brighton. There was a vigil in Brighton in memory of Sarah Everard, RB will share the report about the proportionate police response. She mentioned that the Battersea vigil was very peaceful for several hours before it turned nasty.
Violence against women is high on their agenda. RB shared this report:
Police were made aware of a gathering of around 150 people in Valley Gardens, Brighton, shortly after 6pm on Saturday (March 13).
Officers attended and engaged with those present, explaining the government’s coronavirus regulations and encouraging them to move on from the area. Where this wasn’t successful, officers moved to necessary and proportionate enforcement action. This is consistent with our policing approach throughout the pandemic.
An 18-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of failing to comply with a direction in order to control coronavirus. He has been taken into custody.
Eight Fixed Penalty Notices were issued to people for breaches of the government’s coronavirus regulations.
We recognise the desire to come together at this time, to mourn the death of Sarah Everard in London and to make a statement on the issue of women’s safety, and we absolutely understand the importance of this message. Everyone should feel safe to walk our streets and we hear that many of you do not.
We acknowledge many women have experienced violence, abuse or harassment and this is not acceptable. Protecting our communities is a top priority for Sussex Police, and we will do what it takes to ensure you feel safe in the county where you live.
However, we remain firmly in a public health emergency and the Covid-19 regulations continue to disallow large gatherings because of the continued, and very real, risks of the virus. A High Court judgement on Friday (March 12) ruled planned vigils would not be an exception to the government’s legislation around gatherings during the national lockdown.
We are grateful to everyone who has found a safe and alternative way to express their feelings at this difficult and emotional time.
Tim Whelan EBC Update
The Exceptional Hardship Scheme has seen low take up so EBC have emailed companies they think will be eligible. This grant closes on Sunday.
From next Wednesday, all other grants will close.
The Restart Scheme will commence in April. They are awaiting details and will be keeping us informed. The deadline for the Restart Scheme will be 30th June, so quite tight..
B&H Council Placements
There were 205 placements at the peak is now down by 74 to 131 placements. Eastbourne appears to have been prioritised as Lewes numbers have not changed.
The trend is downwards and since our involvement 250 bedspaces have been found in Brighton. EBC have reported hotels for a breach of planning and suggest that B&H move placements before the hotels are forced to close.
Pre covid 70 people were placed from B&H without complaint so EBC are expecting a reurn to this level.
The Scrutiny meeting tonight will see what level of action is likely from B&H.
DT thanked everyone for the pressure kept up by all organisations.
Cllr Smart gave his full support for the Chamber letter sent to Geoff Raw.
Landlord evictions were due to restart on 31st March – now extended to 31st May. The Housing Needs team are preparing for this. TW thinks the courts will be unlikely to evict tenants in the current climate.
Customer First restructure to save £400K per year. Most jobs have been taken from natural wastage. Only 4 jobs are at risk of redundancy with 12 new skilled posts likely. There is also an annual leave backlog which will roll over.
The Bandstand Renovation update was due from IF or PE. As they were not in attendance this will be brought forward to the next meeting.
Business Update – Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce
CE reiterated the need to support large independent businesses who are in real difficulty as we come out of lockdown. For example The Lansdowne, Shades Group, C&H Fabrics and the Crown & Anchor. Between them they employ 200 people. CE asked TW to consider increasing the proportion of support for them to protect jobs and the household that would be affected if they are lost. They would also leave major gaps in the town centre. TW agreed to look at this after Sunday.
CE also confirmed that she would be speaking at the Scrutiny Meeting about the level of damage B&H Placements and anti-social behaviour are doing to the town. We are a visitor lead economy and cannot afford to frighten visitors away.
CAB Voluntary Sector Update
CAB volunteers have assisted over 3000 people during the pandemic. They have handled 10,000 different issues. £3M has been raised to help those people. Their Debt Advice resource has been increased and video links made available to residents. Also in psychiatric wards where people have suffered stress related episodes.
There is a new campaign “Say Yes to DSS” to encourage landlords to accept people on benefits. There is a huge increase in people on UC who may need housing.
Tim Cobb prepared a press release about evictions encouraging people to contact the council sooner rather than later.
Next meeting will be after Easter