My Easter message to Peterborough - stay home

Many of us will have sat down on Sunday evening to hear our Queen address the nation and deliver a reassuring message of hope.
Coun John Holdich at Sand Piper House, Fletton Quays EMN-180914-175800009Coun John Holdich at Sand Piper House, Fletton Quays EMN-180914-175800009
Coun John Holdich at Sand Piper House, Fletton Quays EMN-180914-175800009

Other than the annual televised message on Christmas Day, it is only the fifth time Her Majesty has addressed the nation – the other times being following the death of the Queen Mother, prior to the funeral of Princess Diana, during the first Gulf War and to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, wrtes cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.

It is a rare and unusual occurrence, but then much of what we are all being asked to do at the moment is exactly that.

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During the Easter weekend it is vitally important that we all continue to heed the message to stay at home, to help protect our NHS and ourselves and to save lives.

It will be a very difficult for my wife Barbara and I, to not see our grandchildren and the rest of our family, as it will be for many people. But we must put all those feelings aside and think of other ways we can keep in touch – Facetime or one of the other video messaging facilities for example.

Last week we launched a campaign, Peterborough Together Against Coronavirus, which asks people to share their ideas about how they are keeping in touch and finding entertainment without making physical contact with those outside their home. It might be video calls with family and friends, quiz nights hosted virtually or your regular exercise class online.

During the Easter holidays we’re publishing a daily challenge to help keep families entertained and encourage them to try something new whilst at home - follow us on Facebook to find out more.

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We are also asking people to share information about services they might be providing which can help people who are isolating. It might be a butcher or convenience store offering deliveries or a pub delivering cooked meals. The more we can share these messages, the less cut off people will feel from the outside world and it will reduce feelings of loneliness.

There’s information on our website and social media channel, so please have a look.

You may have seen that we have a Peterborough hub for people affected by the pandemic who need help and support.

It is part of a network of COVID-19 Coordination and Response Hubs across the county.

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The countywide hub is focussed on supporting residents who have been identified as shielding and being of the highest risk. Our Peterborough hub will support residents who are not the highest risk but still require assistance.

If you need help let us know by completing a form on our website or by calling 01733 747474.

The hubs will make sure that everyone who needs our help and support at this incredibly difficult time receives. It.

I mentioned last week that we are supporting local businesses to access the grants available from the Government. I’m pleased to tell you that as of the start of this week we had distributed almost 500 of the 2,213 Small Business and Rural Business grants. We’re hoping to deliver the majority of the remainder of these payments as well as 900 £25,000 grants available for the leisure, retail and hospitality sector over the next week. Once all these have been distributed we will have passed £34.5m to our business communities.

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We’ve also implemented £33m of rate relief for business in the leisure, hospitality, retail sector and nurseries and we’re offering council tax relief to 7,700 residents who receive Council Tax Support, amounting to £1.6m.

If you need help with paying your council tax, please call us on 01733 747474.

A reminder that information about all the changes to council services is available on our website.

Bulky waste collections have been suspended for the next four weeks to put more frontline crews on general waste and recycling collections.

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Some of our staff are self-isolating and so we need to redeploy those who are working on our bulky waste collection to keep this vital service for residents running. This is not a decision we have taken lightly but it is essential that we continue collecting people’s bins.

Residents are being asked to help our bin crews by leaving notes, drawings and messages of support and waving to crews as they go by – we know lots of you are doing this already! Please also wipe the handles of bins before and after they are put out for collection and only place rubbish in bins and not in plastic bags alongside it.

And finally, enjoy the Easter weekend and make it your goal to make someone’s day by giving them a ring or getting in touch some other way.