Let’s use our common sense
It’s starting to feel like life is moving on a pace now - some of our children are heading back to school and many of us are enjoying the wider use of the district’s beautiful recreational spaces. Detailed plans are being put in place to safely welcome us back to our town centres. Many key steps are also being taken to reconnect our communities, enabling us to at last meet-up with friends and family members.
By using our common sense and staying alert, a return to ‘lockdown’ can be avoided. We simply must remain vigilant and continue with the sensible precautions of social distancing and handwashing that have proven so effective in turning the tide on the coronavirus.
Our ‘superstar’ volunteers
‘Volunteer Week’ has given us a timely opportunity to pay tribute to hundreds of residents who have selflessly supported our Council officers, voluntary organisations and local businesses in delivering essential services during these challenging times. We’ve been privileged to witness some extraordinary contributions that have made a major difference to our community.
One excellent example is the Shielding Hub, which has provided vital support for our most vulnerable residents and has been run almost entirely by volunteers. As we come out of ‘lockdown’ and are able to return to a more normal life, the Shielding Hub will gradually wind down its service, with the closedown currently scheduled for the end of August.
The Council’s £250,000 grant scheme established to support our voluntary organisations remains available. Please encourage voluntary or community groups to come forward and access this funding lifeline. Launched last month, this scheme awards grants of up to £1,000 to organisations who are supporting the Warwick District community and experiencing short-term financial hardship, needing to adapt or increase their services or have had to cease operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although several grants have been made to successful applicants, there are undoubtedly many other local groups eligible for this support and we don’t want them to miss out! Find out how to apply for a grant through the Community Emergency Response Fund.
Next steps in the Recovery Plan
Working with the County Council, the Chambers of Trade, Town Councils and BID Leamington we’re planning to safely re-open our town centres on Monday 15 June. The priority is to support our businesses in providing a safe environment for those who need to visit the town centre and to enable sensible movement throughout. As part of our Recovery Plan:
- Free car parking in every one of the Council’s off-street car parks will be extended until the beginning of August to directly support our key retail businesses.
- The Discretionary Business Grant scheme will be launched next week. We’re working through the complexities of the government guidance in co-operation with the Chambers of Trade and BID Leamington, to ensure a fair scheme is put in place to distribute the £1.738m in available funding, as fast as possible.
- Local Business Loan Scheme proposals are also being prepared in co-operation with the Growth Hub and the Local Enterprise Partnership. More details will be announced shortly for this scheme, which is aimed at assisting viable micro / small businesses with funding to support operating cashflows.
Our Recovery Plan is also bringing forward multi-million, pound capital projects, such as the new secondary school and a new primary school to be built on Oakley Wood Road, between Bishop’s Tachbrook and Whitnash. Outline planning permission was granted this week for these schools, which will serve the thousands of new homes that have recently been built or are planned along Harbury Lane and Europa Way. The school’s sports facilities will be available for the local community to access through a dual use agreement. In addition, the extension of the Tach Brook Country Park, which is currently the subject of public consultation on the design, will allow safe, off-road pedestrian and cycle access from the new housing area and Bishop’s Tachbrook village to the schools and beyond. This is a significant part of a major Community Investment Package for the area and is just one example of how your Council can help deliver a better, low carbon future for us all and the generations to follow.
Life beyond Coronavirus
We remain steadfast in our ambition to address the Climate Emergency through practical local action. A conversation on our YouTube channel with the newly appointed Programme Director for Climate Change, Dave Barber hopefully provides an interesting insight into the plans for a carbon-free future for this special corner of our interconnected world.
Keep smiling and stay safe.
Cllr Andrew Day
Leader, Warwick District Council
Chief Executive, Warwick District Council