Herefordshire Council

WARD COUNCILLOR REPORT

Flooding

I unfortunately have received many emails from concerned residents in relation to flooding since October last year.  I have raised the issue with the Cabinet Member of Housing, Infrastructure and Transport and I am in the process of meeting with key Council Officers to discuss the flooding and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of future flooding events within Wormside.  The next Parish Council summit on Thursday 2 April 2020 will also include the opportunity for discussion around flooding and building resilience in local communities and all Parish Councillors are invited to attend.

As of 3 March 2020, 405 residential and 102 business properties within Herefordshire are understood to have been affected by February’s flood event with the cost of repairs following Storm Dennis currently estimated to be around £10m.  Herefordshire Council has received emergency government funding by way of the Bellwin grant to support residents and businesses directly affected by the recent flooding and this week a three month extension to the Bellwin period has been requested to account for the scale of flooding and assessing its impact.  The open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been published on the Herefordshire Council website.  Flood Recovery support includes:

  • Community Flood Recovery Grants of £500 for residential properties: Households can apply for £500 of financial assistance to help support any short term needs if flood water has entered the habitable areas of their property or their property is considered unliveable for any period of time due to flooding. The grant can be applied for at: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/floods.
  • 100% Council Tax discount for three months: For those households who have been awarded the Community Flood Recovery Grant, three months of Council Tax discount will be automatically applied to their account which will be reflected in the council tax bills being sent this month.
  • Community Flood Recovery Grants of £2500 for businesses: Small and medium enterprises can apply for £2500 of financial assistance if they have experienced a loss of trade due to flooding. The grant can be applied for at: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/floods.
  • Business rate relief: Businesses who have been awarded the Community Flood Recovery Grant will automatically have three months of business rate discount applied to their account which will be reflected in the business rate bills being sent this month.
  • Property Flood Resilience Recovery Support Scheme [2020]: Central government has announced that flood-hit homes and businesses will be able to receive up to £5,000 to help protect them from future flooding. The grant is to fund property flood resilience through community-based measures which make the property less likely to flood in the future, or reduce the impact if flooding does occur. The Council will publicise details of these grants as soon as possible.

In addition to the above, the Council has also offered free collection of flood damaged items from houses and waved the usual trailer permits to deposit flood  households debris to transfer sites.   If your home or business has been impacted by the recent flooding please go the website below and get the latest information. https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200196/roads/345/flooding/3.  The website has information about clean-up & disposal, financial support, users of septic tanks and private water supplies, sandbags, emotional support, insurance and how to stay up-to-date with future information.

Additional resources have been deployed across the county to expedite road cleaning and inspection and assessment of the condition of roads and bridges. Surveys using specialist equipment are being carried out. There are at least 71 locations across the highways network where repair work is required and of these 51 require extensive work to remedy the damage caused. Whilst work to repair damage has commenced, several roads and bridges will require longer term attention and investment to fully address flood damage and secure their resilience.   Please can I encourage you all to report  any EMERGENCY defects and potholes by phone 01432 261800 or for non-emergency defects, by logging on the Herefordshire Council website https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200196/roads

 

Coronavirus

Herefordshire Council are working closely with colleagues in Public Health England and the local NHS to ensure we have robust systems and processes in place to respond to the coronavirus situation in the county as it emerges. Information received from the Council indicate that we are well prepared for any confirmed UK cases, that there are tried and tested procedures to prevent further spread and that the NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections. The key messages from the Council’s director of public health are:

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, especially before cooking and eating; after using the toilet and using public transport. We have sent posters to public buildings in our communities.  If more posters are required, email Karen.wright@herefordshire.gov.uk.
  • ‘Catch it. Bin it. Kill it’: If you sneeze or cough remember to catch it with a tissue; bin the tissue and kill it by washing your hands or using a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap isn’t available.
  • Follow public health’s returning traveler advice: There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus. If you have returned from travelling outside of the UK within the last 14 days please check and follow the public health England specific advice for returning travellers.

For the latest, reputable sources of information about this coronavirus please visit the following websites:

 

Full Council

Herefordshire Council has an annual budget of £380m which is used to deliver services to over 187,000 residents. These services include maintenance of over 2,000 miles of roads, collection of over 85,000 residential bins, safeguarding around 1,000 children (including 354 in the council’s care) and providing care and support to 2,500 vulnerable adults.  Full Council on 14 February 2020 approved the ‘County Plan 2020-2024’ and associated 2020/21 budget, Capital Programme, Medium Term Financial Strategy and Treasury Management Plan. An increase to Herefordshire Council Tax rates was approved at 3.9% in order to achieve a balanced budget.  We also managed to win an amendment by one vote to put aside an additional £2 million for Unclassified and C roads including drainage.

Hereford Transport Strategy

The Hereford transport strategy review will include an assessment of the proposed Hereford Bypass and Southern Link Road, alongside alternative options.  The review is expected to be completed by 31 July 2020 and feedback received by 31 March 2020 will be considered in the review.  I would encourage as many of you as possible to take part and submit your comments via https://travelinhereford.commonplace.is/

 

Student Accommodation

Working with Hereford College of Arts and a range of private sector partners and investors, the Council has enabled the development of a £19 million, 178 bedroom student accommodation development in Hereford which should be complete in time for higher education students to move in for the academic year starting September 2020.  Delivery of 127 modular ‘pods’, will be transported as large loads, some with escort vehicles, and delivered to the site over four weeks, starting on 10 February 2020 until w/c 9 March 2020. There will be six deliveries each week day (seven on the final day) between 9.30am and 3.30pm.  These bedrooms and study spaces have been built off site using an innovative construction method and will be assembled as they arrive.

 

Hereford Cultural Partnership
The Herefordshire Cultural Partnership is looking for a new Chair.  Do you know anybody who might fit this role?  The role of the HCP is to:

  • Champion Herefordshire’s cultural strategy and cultural ambition.
  • Identify and support initiatives, which attract funding and investment for creative and cultural activity.
  • Oversee the development and delivery of the Cultural Strategy 2019-29, producing an annual action plan with specific objectives and targets.
  • Support strategic programmes and identify key initiatives to deliver the Cultural Strategy action plan.
  • Take collective responsibility for ensuring that cultural funding is allocated properly and against agreed priorities.
  • Monitor activity against the Cultural Strategy’s Strategic Objectives and Key Actions and publish an annual review.
  • Examine and respond to local, regional, national and international environments and policies to ensure that the Cultural Strategy’s vision and objectives remain valid.

Herefordshire Libraries

Children aged five and under can join Squirrel’s reading club and collect beautiful character stickers with every library visit. Designed by local illustrator Iain Welch, the special woodland stickers create a magical picture of Squirrel and his woodland friends.  Once children have collected four stickers, they can choose their very own story to keep, personalised with a Squirrel Club bookplate featuring the child’s name. Children’s reading charity BookTrust has donated 2,500 picture books to give to children as a reward.  The Hereford Library is also runing Early Hurly Burly, a fun, free and creative music, story and drama sessions for children under five. It will run every Thursday 1.45-2.45pm from 5 March to 2 April.

Also, as part of this year’s World Book Day, Herefordshire Libraries is inviting younger readers (and book loving adults!) to vote for their favourite 2019 story book. Voting runs from 5 – 12 March and can be cast through Twitter @HfdsLibraries.

Adult Mental Health

This year Healthwatch are focusing on the topic of adult mental health and people’s experiences of this within their GP surgery; including how mental health support is delivered, who you would like to be seen by for your mental health as well as the effects of physical ill health on your mental health and vice versa. The new transformation fund for the next two years will see an additional £5 million invested to pilot new models of delivering services for mental health in primary care across Herefordshire and parts of Worcestershire, as well as a general increase in NHS funding (The Mental Health Investment Standard).

The Council are trying to reach people from all over the county who have or are experiencing poor mental health, and are encouraging as many people as possible to take part in a survey so they can gather feedback to influence how services can best serve the public. https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5312442/Mental-Health-2019-2020

Energy for Waste Tour

Over the last few months I have visited both the recycling centre and also the energy for waste plant.  If any Parish Councillors wish to visit the Energy for Waste plant, there may be a few spaces left on an early summer weekend tour (most likely June).  Please let me know if you are interested.