This is my latest roundup of local news and Coronavirus updates for Hunslet and Riverside residents. There are several links to more detailed information from the Government, the Council and others within the post. In this update you will find:
Cases and Mortality
Implications of the Prime Ministers Announcement
Leeds Major Incident Status Retained
Social Care Works Self-isolation Changes
Covid-19 Action Cards
Additional Restrictions in Nearby Councils
Spain and Luxembourg
Business Support Grants
Active Leeds Leisure Centres Reopening
Council Community Centres
National Obesity Campaign
Cycle Repair Voucher
Child Friendly Leeds Live
Traffic Offence Campaign
Pride at Home
Premises Licences Application Arrow Fresh Ltd
The Leeds DEAF Forum advice on Masks
Planned Tree Works
Upcoming Community Events
Live Q&A Events
Previous updates can be found here: Local News Summary
Cases and Mortality: In Leeds, as 17:00 on 30 July, the number of confirmed cases within Leeds stood at 3,832. There have been 654 covid-19 related deaths registered so far, of which:
642 (98%) were Leeds residents
358 (54.74%) were in hospitals
261 (39.91%) were in care homes
12 (1.83%) in a hospice
23 (3.52%) in their own home.
As at 29 July, the 7 day average infection rate is 5.1 per 100,000 for Leeds, 13 per 100,000 for Yorkshire & Humber, and 7.9 per 100,000 nationally. The latest Public Health England Weekly Surveillance Report sets out the national increase in positive cases, and provides details of the local authority areas on the government’s watchlist.
Implications of the Prime Ministers Announcement: In response to rising numbers of coronavirus infections nationally, the Prime Minister has announced the following:
Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and close contact services will not reopen from 1 August as planned- this is paused until at least 15 August.
Indoor performances and wedding receptions will not be able to take place until at least 15 August (wedding ceremonies can still proceed)
From 8 August face coverings must be worn in areas where there is likely to be contact with people from other households, such as museums and galleries, cinemas and places of worship.
The planned pilots of sports events from 1 August are paused until at least 15 August.
The change in guidance regarding returning to work, and changes to shielding from 1 August both remain in place.
Leeds Major Incident Status Retained: Leeds declared a “major incident” at the end of March, in line with other councils in West Yorkshire and with the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum. It means the council put in place multi-agency command and control arrangements. The council has have continually adapted the multi-agency arrangements during this period and reported this through Executive Board reports. The council has reviewed our situation again recently and bench marked what other areas are doing. Many have stayed at the status of major incident. The infection rate in Leeds is low at the moment, but we aren’t complacent and rates are high across West Yorkshire and other parts of Yorkshire and Humberside. Against this context, and in line with our colleagues, Leeds will retain the status of “major incident”, and continue to adapt our multi-agency arrangements accordingly.
Symptoms Self-isolation: Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, or who tests positive, will now have to self-isolate for ten days rather than 7, the UK Chief Medical Officers have announced. NHS Test and Trace are launching a campaign to encourage more people to get tested as soon as they develop symptoms.
Social Care Works Self-isolation Changes: In June an exemption was put in place for health and social care workers, meaning they did not need to self-isolate when returning from high-risk countries. This exemption has now been removed, bringing the advice for health and social care workers in line with the advice for the rest of the public, which is that they must self-isolate for two weeks when returning to England from any country not on the ‘travel corridors’ exemption list- noting that this list is currently changing frequently.
Covid-19 Action Cards: The Government has produced a number of simple ‘Action Cards’ to help workplaces understand their responsibilities to identify, report and respond to outbreaks of coronavirus.
Additional Restrictions in Nearby Councils: There are additional restrictions in Kirklees, Bradford, Calderdale, Greater Manchester and much of East Lancashire. This means that people in these areas will not be able to meet with other households (other than their support bubble) in private homes and gardens or pubs/restaurants etc. There will also be additional restrictions in Bradford, with indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios, sports courts and swimming pools required to close from 1 August. The relevant guidance is here.
It is important to emphasise that Leeds is not included in the restrictions, but given our proximity to Kirklees, Bradford and Calderdale, we need to remain vigilant, keep reminding residents of the need to stay safe, and keep our local rate of infection down. The infection rate in Leeds remains relatively low which is testament to communities across the city who have done an incredible job following the guidance.
Outbreak Management: There are currently no live care home or workplace outbreaks in Leeds. While this is positive news, we have started to see an increase in community transmissions via households, which is a cause for concern. Public Health will be reinforcing our public health communications in light of the restrictions imposed in other parts of West Yorkshire.
Spain and Luxembourg: These have been removed from the travel corridor list due to a rapid increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases. Passengers returning to the UK from these nations will need to self-isolate for two weeks. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to Spain and Luxembourg, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. The full list of countries currently exempted from ‘all but essential travel’ advice is available here.
Business Support Grants: We have received notification from the government that the business support grant schemes will close on 28 August including the Discretionary Fund. The Leeds Discretionary Grant Fund closed to applications on 28 June, and a second round of applications to the scheme will open on the 3 August. We are seeking urgent clarification from Government as to whether closure means that the applications to the Discretionary Fund must be received by the 28 August or payments made as this will influence the approach. Please continue to refer businesses to our coronavirus business support page to check eligibility criteria and apply for support.
Active Leeds Leisure Centres Reopening: These began to open this week, starting with Holt Park Active, Aireborough, Armley, John Charles, John Smeaton and Morley, offering group classes and gym sessions (swimming pools currently remain closed).
All group classes and gym sessions are capped at 60 minutes and will need to be booked in advance via the Active Leeds website or mobile app. An announcement on the website provides further guidance, FAQs and a helpful video that explains the measures being taken to makes centres Covid-secure, and what will be expected of people visiting gyms and leisure centres.
We are seeking to reopen some swimming pools from mid-August subject to the implementation of COVID secure measures within changing rooms and circulation areas. The reopening of other leisure centres beside those named is under review and updates will be provided.
Council Community Centres: The council have started risk assessments to test how community centres will be able to meet the government guidelines and operate safely. We will look at each building individually, assessing how they can be made COVID-19 Secure, and therefore be able to reopen safely for some activities. As these are completed we will consider how we can open centres on a case by case basis. Hirers will also need to assess the safe delivery of their activities.
National Obesity Campaign: The Government has launched a new national weight-loss and health improvement campaign following the publication of a Public Health England report that found being obese or excessively overweight increases the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19. Measures include a ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm, the ending of ‘buy one get one free’ deals on unhealthy food, calories to be displayed on menus, and new campaign to help people lose weight, get active and eat better.
Cycle Repair Voucher: The Prime Minister has announced a £2bn cycle and walking programme to build on the significant increase of people walking and cycling during the pandemic. The plans include new protected bike lanes, cycle training for everyone, a national e-bike programme, and bikes available on prescription. A long term cycling programme and budget to ensure a guaranteed pipeline of funding are also promised. A £50 bike repair voucher scheme is being offered to anybody with a bike in need of repair. A limited number of vouchers are available and people can register for a voucher online.
Child Friendly Leeds Live: is an annual event, which came about as a result of a children’s competition in 2017 and takes place on Playday (national day for play in the UK).
Our child-friendly city aspiration is visible throughout this Best Council Plan in the work we are doing to make Leeds the best city in the UK for children and young people to grow up and this day celebrates children’s right to play so we’re asking the city to #GoOrange on 5 August.
The day will begin with the free live stream with performances and games featuring CBBC star, Alex Winters! Children and adults in Leeds will be asked to join in the fun and #GoOrange on 5 August by wearing, finding, creating or even baking something orange – all ideas can be found in our activity pack including a digital Jurassic trail in Leeds City Centre and parks around the city will have #ChildFriendlyLeeds posters.
Traffic Offence Campaign: A new traffic enforcement programme has started to target drivers who are speeding, using mobile phones or suspected to be under the influence of drugs or drink while driving. Funded by the council and working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police- Operation SPARC (Supporting Partnership Action to Reduce Road Casualties) will run for at least 6 months and will see officers patrolling the city monitoring driving behaviour, looking for drivers putting themselves and other road users at risk.
Digital Inclusion: Leeds has been awarded Government funding for projects to support residents through the pandemic through digital innovation. We will receive £79,500 to develop a guide for all councils to ensure that people who may struggle with digital technology, especially those who are vulnerable of socially isolated, get the help they need.
Rediscover Leeds: Visit Leeds has launched Rediscover Leeds, encouraging residents to be a tourist in their own city and explore the diverse retail, dining and cultural experiences Leeds has to offer. In 2019, Leeds welcomed 30m visitors worth nearly £2bn to the local economy. It is predicted that as a result of the pandemic, 2020 visitor numbers will drop to 2012 levels. The campaign has been developed using intelligence from Visit Britain to understand how people are feeling about returning to leisure activities and who is most likely to return. The first phase will focus on encouraging Leeds residents, and those in neighbouring towns, to spend time in the city. Later in the year, when it is safe to do so, the campaign will begin encouraging a wider national and international audience to the city.
Pride at Home: This Sunday would have been the 15th Leeds Pride, the annual event that recognises and celebrates LGBT+ people across our city. The event, which brings over 60,000 people into the city centre, was cancelled earlier this year due to COVID. Instead of the parade through the city centre and events taking place across the city on Sunday, this year the organisers are asking people to still celebrate Leeds Pride but at home and share photos using #LeedsPrideAtHome. In recognition of what would have been Leeds Pride, over the weekend council buildings will be lit up in the colours of the rainbow as well as flying the pride, bi and trans flags.
Housing Leeds: The department continues to remobilise its services as follows:
In Council homes, we are now carrying out all types of repairs again and are working through the backlog of non-urgent repairs that has built up during lockdown. It will take us longer than usual to complete some non-urgent repairs until we have cleared the backlog which we anticipate will be in September. Tenants who have already reported repairs do not need to report them again and we are making contact with tenants to book appointments in as we work through the backlog.
We have now resumed almost all Council housing investment programme activity, including communal, external and environmental works and some investment work in homes.
Housing teams continue to take a supportive approach to Council Housing rent collection and arrears management at this time. Some arrears visits and more formal arrears action will begin in August where tenants are not engaging with staff.
Housing teams will over the coming weeks be undertaking more activity on site, including an increase in doorstep visits on tenancy matters and completing estate and block inspections.
Teams continue to make 10k telephone contacts per week to tenants living in the Council’s Retirement Life schemes. Over the next few weeks will be increasing our staff presence on schemes and undertaking some doorstep visits.
Risk assessments have been undertaken of communal areas of Retirement Life schemes to assess how we keep each scheme safe. To ensure the continued safety of residents, communal lounges will remain closed – this will be reviewed at the end of August.
Choice Based Lettings went live on 24 June, and we are increasing the number of homes advertised. Lettings are now well underway of Council homes allocated prior to lockdown, where the applicant is in a position to move.
LHO have continued to provide housing options support to around 650 people per week during lockdown, and secured positive accommodation outcomes for 91% of cases where the prevention duty has come to an end. There are currently 127 people in the emergency hotel accommodation set up at the start of lockdown.
The Private Sector team has resumed more inspection activity and from 1 August will be resuming the collection of outstanding Selective Licencing and HMO Licencing fees.
All remobilisation plans are being progressed in close consultation with managers, Trade Unions, contractors and partners. We continue to update the Council web pages with our remobilisation plans, and send emails to Council tenants with key updates.
Premises Licences Application Arrow Fresh Ltd: Details can be found here.
The Leeds DEAF Forum advice on Masks: Details can be found here.
Planned Tree Works: a list of the next non-emergency tree works in the wards can be found here.
Upcoming Community Events:
5 September: Friends of Hunslet Moor Litter Pick
If you have a community event you'd like me to share, please let me know. The events must be non-party political and for the whole community. I'll also offer to host the Facebook event page if your group does not have its own Facebook Page etc. to do so.
Live Q&A Events: Past event can be re-watched here. The next event(s) are below:
5 August: Hilary Benn MP
14 August: Ask Paul