We’re working hard to continue delivering services throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and to support our residents – and in particular those who most need our help.
On our website you will find information about where to find support as well as details of any changes we’ve had to make to services.
You can also keep in touch with us online, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
We would like to wish all our residents a lovely Bank Holiday weekend.
We have all experienced significant changes to our daily lives during lockdown, with the closures of businesses, schools and workplaces. Some will have also suffered the loss of a loved one to Covid-19, which will have made this time even more difficult.
We have launched a residents’ survey to gain insight into the impact of Covid-19 and would like your views on the local social, economic and environmental impact you have experienced.
The survey should take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and your feedback will be used to shape the West Berkshire Recovery Strategy, which is being developed to outline how the district recovers from the current situation. We intend to repeat the survey at regular intervals in the next year to ensure that any changes our residents are feeling are considered.
Click here to take part in the survey.
Town centre to be temporarily pedestrianised
Newbury town centre will be temporarily pedestrianised from 1 June.
We have issued a temporary traffic order which will see the north end of Bartholomew Street, Northbrook Street and the Market Square closed to traffic for 24 hours a day until further notice.
We are continuing to work to support our town centres to reopen across the district so you may notice high streets in your area will also have restrictions for vehicle access.
This will help town centre businesses and shoppers to comply with social distance guidance as it will make additional floorspace available for queuing outside of shops and businesses who choose to re-open.
Any businesses who need to receive deliveries by vehicle should email: Trafficandroadsafety@westberks.gov.uk to discuss.
Public Rights of Way
Our Rights of Way Rangers and Contractors are currently very busy clearing the paths of vegetation which is growing rapidly. Social distancing is extremely important in order to keep the operatives of the machinery and the public safe.
Before starting work they are displaying signs which ask residents to keep a social distance and where necessary to make sure the operatives see you before you proceed.
In a small number of cases where paths are very narrow and/or winding we are temporarily closing the paths whilst the clearance is taking place. Signs clearly state the path is temporarily closed.
Please take notice of these signs to keep everyone safe and also make sure you are following the Countryside Code.
A special Coronovirus Countryside Code has recently been produced by Defra.
Since the end of March, car parks operated by us have been free to help make life easier for key and essential workers at this difficult time.
From 1 June we are starting to reintroduce charging again as the restrictions on lockdown are starting to ease with more people visiting towns. We will still accept all forms of payment but we are encouraging payment to be made on card using contactless payment and pay by phone where available, rather than handling cash.
Social distancing still needs to be adhered to and there will be plenty of signage across all car parks to highlight this, including advice on how many people to have in the car park lifts.
Bank Holiday Monday
Don’t forget with the bank holiday on Monday that bin collections will take place a day later than usual. You can find out what date your collection is due by using our handy online tool: https://citizen.westberks.gov.uk/binday.
Traffic management at the Recycling Centres
A339 Newtown Road, Newbury
A lane closure was installed last week on this section of road near the Recycling Centre to slow and control traffic entering the site. It is felt that traffic is coping better with this new addition and both the 30mph speed limit and lane closure will remain in place until further notice.
Padworth Lane, Padworth
Traffic is coping very well at this site and traffic volumes are less than expected, mainly due to the effective implementation of a booking system for Recycling Centre customers. As a result, the road closure on Padworth Lane and the 30mph speed limit on the A4 has been removed. All traffic for the Recycling Centre should still approach from the A4 wherever possible and bookings will now be checked at the access into the Recycling Centre.
Both locations will continue to be monitored and any further changes may be implemented with very little or no notice if and when necessary. Bookings are still necessary to visit both sites and trailers are not permitted at either site.
We would like to thank motorists and residents for cooperating with us to make the changes work successfully.
We want to also please advise residents to read carefully what can and can’t be taken to the recycling centres to ensure the health and safety of our site buildings and staff is not compromised.
Berkshire Befriending and Buddying
We pleased to announce that a contract to deliver Befriending and Buddy support has been awarded to Age UK Berkshire.
The scheme, which aims to prevent and reduce social isolation and loneliness in West Berkshire, will provide social and emotional support to residents aged 50 and over from a volunteer befriender or buddy.
Due to Covid-19 the scheme is currently running as a telephone befriending service and face to face befriending and buddying will be introduced when it is safe to do so and in line with government guidance.
The Age UK Berkshire Befriending and Buddying scheme is now open for referrals. Enquiries should be made directly to Age UK Berkshire by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling: 0118 959 4242.
Every Mind Matters
Now, more than ever, Every Mind Matters. We’ll all be experiencing highs and lows and it’s perfectly normal to miss loved ones, get frustrated, or feel anxious or stressed.
It’s important to be able to strengthen your resilience and reduce stress as much as possible. To help with this, we have worked with our partners to actively promote the Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Every Mind Matters campaign.
You can get a free mind plan on our website designed to help you deal with stress, boost your mood, improve your sleep and feel in control. Try it out.
Head teachers across West Berkshire covering all provisions have been working exceptionally hard in the background to fully understand the large volumes of guidance for the wider opening of schools that has been published by central government recently.
The announcement focussed on welcoming more children back into schools, colleges and early year’s settings from Monday 1 June, if it remains safe to do so, whereas for some this might be from a later date.
We understand parents across the district have many questions on what this recent announcement means for them and their children going back to school. We want to assure parents that our Education team are continually working closely with the Head teachers and staff members in schools who have already been doing an amazing job supporting children of critical workers and vulnerable children since 23 March.
However, it is important to remember that what works for one school, may not work in another and Head teachers are keen to make sure parents are well informed and reassured their children will be as safe as possible. Schools will be in touch with parents and carers about local arrangements.
We all look forward to a time when schools can return to something that looks more normal but until then, safety has to be our collective top priority.
New discretionary business scheme launched
We have launched a new £1.225m discretionary business scheme. The new scheme, which was announced earlier this month and is funded by Central Government, follows on from the previous Small Business Rates Grants and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants scheme.
It is aimed at businesses who have ongoing property costs and have experienced a significant fall in their income due to Covid-19. The previous scheme was launched in April and we distributed over £24.6m to almost 2,000 local businesses; placing us in the top 10% of local authorities in the country by percentage of eligible businesses paid. This new scheme is open for applications and will close when the council has distributed its allocation of £1.225m on a first come first served basis.
Full guidance and the grant form can be found on our dedicated Coronavirus business page.