Eastbourne COBRA Updates
Public Health Update – Darrell Gale
- Eastbourne has the dubious honour of being 37th out of 315 local authorities for the highest infection rate in the UK. Consequently our hospital services are under great pressure and patients are being transferred from the DGH to the Conquest to spread the load.
- The vaccine programme is making significant in roads with care staff, NHS staff, care residents and the over 80s.
- DG welcomed the introduction of 24/7 vaccination provision.
- There will be mass testing for anyone unable to work from home, however, this is a huge scale-up of the existing operation so businesses are asked to be patient.
- The Chamber report addressing supermarket safety controls was much appreciated and has been shared nationally by DG with Public Health England. We were asked whether supermarkets test their staff every morning like NHS workers. We have emailed our contacts to find out.
The Chamber asked PHE to share the fact that 1 in 24 people are infected with the virus in Eastbourne. We believe that the public will understand this figure better than more esoteric statistics. For example, if you pass 100 people in a supermarket or on the seafront then 8 of them are likely to be infected with the virus; could it be the person you have stopped to chat to!
Grants Update – Tim Whelan EBC
- There have been 10 grant schemes so far since March last year. The Local Restrictions Grant for businesses forced to close on Boxing Day went live on Monday. So far, 153 applications have been received and Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) have already processed over £400,000 worth of payments.
- EBC have committed to make payments within 5 days of a successful application.
- The guidance for the national lockdown grants for those within retail, hospitality and leisure was received today (Wednesday 13th Jan). EBC are working hard to get this scheme live as soon as possible. We will advise you as soon as this portal is open.
- For those businesses with premises that do not attract rates (like guesthouses and shared accommodation) EBC plan to launch the Additional Restrictions Grant - for those forced to close, as soon as possible.
The Chamber and BID have requested that additional support is given to businesses that have remained open but have seen a significant decline in trade. Many independent retailers falling into the ‘essential’ bracket have seen a dramatic fall in footfall and income as the rest of the town is closed.
- Click here for more information with regards to the grants
- Click here to apply for the Local Restrictions Grant
MP’s Update – Nicholas Taylor
- Caroline Ansell apologised she was not able to join us but was represented by her Office Manager, Nick Taylor.
- After the Supermarket Covid Protections report completed by the Chamber, Caroline Ansell shared the report with Defra and there has been a big national push for supermarkets to tighten up COVID safety. This has been reflected in statements from government in the last week.
- CA has agreed to support calls for additional help for those businesses that have seen a reduction in business.
- CA is meeting with the Clinical Care Commissioning Group with regards to the closure of the walk in centre to discuss town centre provision and homeless provision.
The Chamber and BID lobbied again for the removal of business rates for 2021-2022 and the permanent extension of the 5% VAT rate for the hospitality sector.
We have also raised concerns about the furlough programme. The qualification date remains October 30th which means that new members of staff employed in November do not qualify. CA has spoken to the Treasury to request a later date (ideally 21st December) and will keep us informed.
We also asked that supermarket workers be given priority in the vaccination programme as they are key frontline workers. According to the weekly surveillance reports, supermarkets are reported as having been visited by the majority of people testing positive for the virus. For this reason we have asked CA to pass this request to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and raise it with Ministers as it is our belief that immunising supermarket staff will slow the rate of infection and protect the community.
The BID offered assistance with free school meals as a number of businesses have offered support. Their contact details will be passed to CA to be shared with the relevant department.
Police Update – Rachel Barrow
- The Police are working hard to address complex issues relating to drugs and rough sleeping.
- The Police have a new strategy regarding the enforcement of COVID regulations. They recognise that people are travelling long distances - this is not in the spirit of the legislation and must be stopped.
- Sussex Police are also focusing on instances of large social gatherings.
- Domestic abuse remains a concern during lockdown and campaigns continue to encourage people to reach out for help. If you suspect a neighbour, friend or family member is suffering domestic abuse, please report it to the Police.