On-going local response to COVID-19

Published on 20th March 2020

flowers at the municipal offices

Every effort is being made to support communities through this time of uncertainty, including a new community help hub.

Helping communities – help hub

The council continues its multi-agency work with the Local Resilience Forum to support communities including the most vulnerable. A new county-wide ‘community help hub’ is now live and can be accessed from the following link - https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershires-community-help-hub/

This hub is a collaboration between all local councils, police and health services. The hub is designed to connect people who can help each other, or if appropriate refer individuals to an existing service. Please share the new hub with your local community.

Supporting businesses

The council welcomes the latest financial measures from government to help local businesses, and is working hard to award the additional retail discounts as announced in the budget.

Letters confirming the discount have already been issued to 300 businesses this week, and more work is being carried out to identify the additional businesses that will qualify as a result of the more recent announcements.

Planning enforcement changes

The council has taken the decision to temporarily suspend enforcement of planning legislation and planning conditions associated with those businesses providing services to the community in response to the coronavirus (where they are operating in line with current guidance on the virus). This includes relaxing restrictions on these business such as:

  • Hours of operation (i.e. increasing opening hours)
  • Change of use (i.e. allowing pubs to operate as hot food takeaways)
  • Additional service provision
  • Delivery hours (allowing deliveries for extended hours)
  • Temporary advertising providing information related to coronavirus

Businesses are advised to let the council know what changes they have made by emailing planning@cheltenham.gov.uk.

Support for local pubs and restaurants

The government is relaxing planning legislation (for up to twelve months) to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways. Normally this would require planning permission. At this stage, the plan is to relax these restrictions for 12 months. Whilst the changes are planned and not yet in force, the council is keen to support local businesses and ensure that communities are catered for. The council does not expect existing pub and restaurant businesses to wait until regulations change to operate as hot food takeaways, they can proceed now.

Businesses are advised to check with their insurer to make sure they are covered for such a business operation and take appropriate legal advice. (These changes do not apply to the sale of alcohol, with current licences continuing to apply.)  Businesses should email planning@cheltenham.gov.uk to advise of any changes to operations.

David Oakhill, the council’s head of planning said:  ‘’We understand that this is a challenging time for businesses. It is only right that we do all we can to extend support in every way possible to help our local economy and in turn our communities.’’

Maintaining essential council services

The council is now only providing a face to face service for the following services and would ask that customers only enter the Municipal Offices if their query relates to:

  • Homelessness
  • Licensing enquiries (which cannot otherwise be dealt with online or by telephone)
  • Housing benefit – the council assures customers in receipt of housing benefit that payments will continue to be made on time. We encourage customers to avoid visiting us if possible and contact us by emailing benefits@cheltenham.gov.uk or calling our helpline on 01242 264341

To make a payment

Most payments can be made online at www.cheltenham.gov.uk/payments, through the automated telephone payment line 0300 456 2774 (24 hour service), through online* banking and direct debits which are available for regular council tax and rent payments.

The council will continue to review the situation, with government guidance and the public can stay informed using the council’s website and social media channels.

www.cheltenham.gov.uk/coronavirus

Facebook @cheltbc

Twitter @cheltenhambc

LinkedIn – Cheltenham Borough Council


 

For press enquiries contact: communications@cheltenham.gov.uk, 01242 264231

 

 

Notes

*Online banking:

At a bank and Internet banking, the council’s bank account details are: Sort code 30-00-00  Account no. 00342572  Account Name: Cheltenham Borough Council Head Office Collection Account.  

To set up a direct debit:

The council tax department on 01242 264161 For housing rent contact the rent accounting team on 0800 408 0000   Alternatively if you need to speak to somebody about your payment you can call 01242 262626.  Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (Wednesday 9.30am - 5pm) and your payment can be made over the telephone.