It’s great to see so many out exercising and enjoying our spectacular parks, making the most of the welcome warmer weather. After what seems like weeks of rain and grey skies, the simple things in life feel more important than ever just now. But with local infection rates ticking-up, rising this week from 97 to 102.3 cases per 100,000 residents, we’re reminded of how important it is to keep up our guard and continue to follow the guidance.
Complacency could cost many more lives before this pandemic is over, so please continue to follow the proven practices of washing our hands, covering our faces and keeping a safe distance apart. Until we can properly assess the impact that our vaccination programme is having on the spread of covid, let’s please continue to stay at home. Remember too that one in three people carrying the virus do not show any symptoms. So, if we have to leave our homes, then best that we act as if we’ve got Covid. To be safe, we’re fortunate to be able to easily book regular tests that take just 15 minutes. Information is available, here.
95% of the over 65-year-olds have now had their jab in Coventry and Warwickshire, which ranks this area as having the highest vaccination rate in the Country. Next week, our 60 – 64 year-olds will receive their vaccination invitations. Preparations are also underway to give the second jab to the residents of our care homes. 70-year-olds who still haven’t had their first vaccination are encouraged to book-in by making an appointment at here; telephone 119 between 7am and 11pm, or contact their GP directly. As the programme roll-out continues, remember too that the vaccination offer is ‘every green’, so if your cohort has already been vaccinated and you haven’t but would like to be, then you can come forward and book an appointment. We’ve other useful guidance, here.
The Government has set out a four-step Roadmap to take us on a steady path out of Lockdown, giving confidence to local recovery plans. From 8 March, restrictions will start to lift offering a route back to a more normal life. Each step in the Roadmap will be guided by data, not dates, so that we don’t risk a surge in infections. For that reason, all the dates in the Roadmap are indicative and subject to change. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the scientific data to reflect the changes in restrictions and to be analysed; followed by one week’s advance notice of the restrictions that will be eased. We’ll continue to update you as the Plan progresses, giving as much notice as possible about specific changes and how they will impact our way of life, including the delivery of local services, such as the opening of leisure facilities.
Support to our local businesses continues a pace with a new scheme launching on Monday aimed at those that have been unable to access grant funding during the latest Lockdown. Eligibility criteria and application details are available, here. We’re also introducing a new grant scheme for Taxi Drivers and just as soon as we have details, we’ll promptly share this information too. Now officially ranked amongst the highest performing Councils for distributing these grants, we’re incredibly proud of the great work being done by our Finance team in getting this much needed support paid to our hard-pressed local businesses.
We promised to update you on the outcome of this week’s Council meeting. The 2021/22 budget was set, including a £5 per household per annum (at Band D) increase in Warwick District's share of our Council Tax. This increase is vital if we are to continue to support our communities and put in place a recovery plan to help to get us back on our feet. In addition, funding has been approved to support the delivery of the council’s Climate Emergency Programme. Based on the recommendations of our Peoples’ Inquiry we’ll continue the steady progress being made towards our ambition to become a carbon neutral district by 2030.
At this historic meeting Councillors also emphatically agreed to a deeper relationship with Stratford on Avon District Council. Both councils have worked closely together to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and this decision provides the opportunity to improve services, seize efficiencies and provide innovative and agile services. There will be wide ranging consultation on our shared goals for the future. We want to hear from our residents, businesses and partner organisations so that together, the very best local government is provided to all our communities across south Warwickshire.