• Good news for people with concessionary bus passes, as they can now be used at any time of day or night. This 24/7 service is there to help the vulnerable and elderly in Northamptonshire to access essential services and shops during the Coronavirus lockdown.
• With large amounts of people working from home, Recycle Northamptonshire want to remind people to park sensibly so that the waste collection vehicles in the county can safely navigate our roads and continue to provide their service uninterrupted. If roads are blocked it could lead to bins not being collected on time.
• Around all the wonderful work going on in our community and the national effort to fight Coronavirus, I am really saddened to hear of the small minority of people who, disgracefully, are trying to take advantage of vulnerable people at this hugely challenging time. I am aware of several scams, and urge you to stay extra vigilant. Be suspicious around phone calls, texts and emails you weren't expecting, or people claiming to be from the Government, HMRC, or the local council. More information and advice, here: https://bit.ly/2HtMqE9.
• Notice to country park season ticket holders - Northamptonshire County Council are planning to extend the expiry date of season tickets to compensate for the closure of the car parks. Please keep your ticket safe and do not amend the dates yourself, and please don’t dispose of tickets that expired after the 24th March 2020. The Customer Service Centre is currently busy assisting with the council’s COVID-19 emergency response, so they ask that you do not call in with season ticket queries. When they know the date that the car parks will reopen, more information will be provided about the extension on the country parks website.
• There is a new and free online service, backed by British Gas, that brings together volunteers and people who need help with essential household tasks in their local area. @LocalHeroesUK, which you can find on Twitter, offers a free, easy and flexible way to ask for help with the essentials, or to give some time to support your local community during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you need assistance or want to volunteer you can sign up, here: https://communities.localheroes.com.
• A notice from Northamptonshire County Council - Household Waste Recycling Centres will be open again from Monday 18th May for residents to dispose of essential household waste. NCC are asking that only essential journeys are made to the HWRCs, and for residents to only use them if waste or recycling cannot be stored safely at home without causing injury, harm, or risk to health. If waste can be temporarily stored in a way that does not pose a risk, NCC are asking people to keep it at home and not make the journey to a HWRC. Additionally, and in line with Public Health England guidance, residents who are vulnerable, or who are showing symptoms which may indicate COVID-19, should not visit household recycling centres. Social distancing measures will be present to protect the public and staff, with clear signage on display which will include restricting the number of vehicles allowed on site at any one time, and a one way system for vehicles and pedestrians. With the expected increase in visitors to sites, and reduced capacity to comply with social distancing rules, it is anticipated that queues are highly likely. As such, officers will be on hand to help marshal traffic to ensure that no obstructions are caused. Sites may have to close temporarily throughout the day if demand becomes too high, to enable safe operations and allow traffic to disperse from the highway. Up-to-date information is available, here: https://tinyurl.com/y77eulwh.
• I really welcome the recent announcement providing greater clarity on the discretionary element of the small business grants scheme, along with some extra resourcing, which will undoubtedly address a small number of challenging cases I have been taking up with the councils locally. You can find more details, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/top-up-to-local-business-grant-funds-scheme. Well done to Ministers for listening to the feedback and acting on it – it’ll make a big difference!
• The Friday before last, I had a very productive virtual meeting with representatives of Northamptonshire Highways, local developers and residents, to discuss concerns relating to the historical flooding problem along Brick Kiln Road in Raunds – something I have been consistently raising and pressing for a solution to be found. I was pleased to hear that works to rectify the problems will begin in due course, with the scheme details currently being finalised, and I hope that once completed, the lives of local residents and those travelling along this stretch of road will be dramatically improved. Despite Coronavirus, my work on the key local issues and concerns local people raise with me continues!
• A particularly concerning aspect around our collective national effort to fight Coronavirus is the impact it is understandably having on people’s mental health. In response, I am pleased that our local councils and the NHS have launched a mental health support line, and whether you are feeling lonely, anxious, frightened, or struggling with other issues, there is friendly, professional support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 0300 330 1011.
• The FA, the Premier League, and the Government (through Sport England) have jointly launched a £9.5m ‘Pitch Preparation Fund’ to support grassroots clubs facing challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and to help them get “match-ready” for when restrictions are lifted. The fund, which will be delivered through the Football Foundation, will provide financial support in the form of grants to clubs across the country struggling to maintain their football pitches in the wake of disrupted revenue streams. It is open to football clubs and voluntary organisations that maintain their own natural grass pitches and have at least 12 months’ security of tenure; clubs with suitable tenure for a 3G artificial grass pitch are also eligible to apply. Local clubs can check the full eligibility criteria and apply, here: https://footballfoundation.org.uk/grant/pitch-preparation-fund. The application window is open now and closes at 9pm on Monday 25th May 2020.
If you have anything you would like to be featured next week, please email all the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you have taken any photos of constituency landscapes or landmarks, which could be featured in my ‘Community Notices’ headers, please send them in and I will try to use as many of them as possible (and credit them accordingly!), as a celebration of the fantastic place we live and work in. I know we have many budding photographers in our community and it would be great to showcase their work, particularly as so many of us are going about our now unlimited daily exercise by walking in our stunning local countryside!