NEW News from Merton Council

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A big ‘Welcome Back’ to our local high streets and shoppers

12 April, 2021 - 14:58

Merton High Streets and local businesses are today (Monday 12 April) opening their doors and welcoming back customers for the first time in four months.

This is a much needed boost for the local economy and the first big step in helping local businesses to bounce back in 2021.

Residents are being encouraged to come into the town centres and support and enjoy their local high streets and small, independent local businesses.

In Merton many local non-essential retailers and close contact businesses such as hairdressers and beauty salons are reopening and pubs, cafes and restaurant can now serve customers in outside seating.

It is important that everyone still continues to follow guidance to ensure that businesses provide CO|VID-19 safe environments so that shoppers are comfortable and confident about going back to the high streets.

Remember to Shop Safe and Shop Local! To keep everyone safe we all need to continue to follow COVID-19 guidance including:

  • Washing and sanitising hands regularly
  • Keeping 2 metres social distance from those not in your household
  • Wearing a face covering unless you are exempt
  • Following queuing and one way systems in shops and premises
  • Use contactless payment where possible

The council has put together advice to help both business and local residents. These include online webinars, leaflets, a welcome back advertising campaign on billboards and public transport, FAQs and a toolkit for businesses

About 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still infect others. Everyone is now able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing to help keep us all safe now we are out and about. There are several ways for people who live and work in Merton to get a test – visit Coronavirus tests and self-isolating Businesses can access support and information at www.merton.gov.uk/reopening and residents should visit www.merton.gov.uk/coronavirus

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HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

9 April, 2021 - 13:20

The Mayor of Merton, Councillor Sally Kenny, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and our thoughts and condolences are with the Royal Family as they mourn their loss.  

“Prince Philip made a tremendous contribution to public life, both as the Queen’s Consort, and through his own tireless work for charities and public engagements over more than 70 years. He leaves an incredible legacy through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which equips young people with a range of life skills.” 

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Information about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

8 April, 2021 - 13:29

There has been extensive press coverage regarding the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in recent days. The UK independent medicines regulator the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) has extensively reviewed all evidence around the AZ vaccine. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are the most important safe way of reducing the risks of COVID-19 illness. The AZ vaccine is safe, and effective, and has been associated with an extremely rare risk of blood clots – at 4 cases per 1 million doses.

However, due to the extremely low risk of blood clots, those aged under 30 years or with a risk of blood clots may be offered another vaccine; any concerns should be discussed with your GP. Those who have received one dose of AZ, should get their second dose of AZ.  

COVID vaccinations are the most important and effective way of reducing the risk of getting COVID – for further information please see

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Enhanced testing confirms no cases of South African variant found

7 April, 2021 - 14:38

No cases of the South African variant were found among the 11,000 tests carried out in the London borough of Merton in February and March as part of two enhanced testing programmes.

Two programmes were launched as a precaution after two individual cases of the variant, with no link to recent travel, were found – one in Pollards Hill and one in the Wimbledon Park area.

Enhanced testing took place in Pollards Hill for two weeks from February 3, while Wimbledon Park ran a week-long programme starting on February 26. The results were confirmed to the council by the NHS this week.

As expected, the exercise did find positive tests for COVID-19 in general, but the programme found no cases of the South African variant of concern.

In Pollards Hill, 1.5% of the 6,000 tests were positive for COVID-19; in Wimbledon Park, the figure was 0.3% from 5,000 tests.

Mark Allison, Leader of Merton Council, said: “We promised to inform residents once we had official figures, and thanks largely to the people of Merton sticking to lockdown guidance, I’m pleased to say no more cases of the South African variant were found.

“I cannot thank our residents enough, or our staff, volunteers, community partners and NHS colleagues who helped mobilise this exercise and run our Mobile Testing Units. Merton is a great place, and our communities in Pollards Hill and Wimbledon Park have been fantastic.

“This exercise has proved that the people of Merton will do what is right to protect our neighbours, and that our great community will work as Merton together for the good of everyone. I’m so proud of all those involved.”

ENDS

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Merton Council appoints Jane McSherry as new Director for Children, Schools and Families

29 March, 2021 - 12:40

Merton Council has promoted from within to fill the vacant position of Director for Children, Schools and Families by appointing Jane McSherry, who is currently the council’s Assistant Director for Education and Early Help.

Jane has been in her current role for six years and, prior to that, worked for neighbouring Wandsworth Borough Council. As Assistant Director for Education and Early Help, she has been responsible for over 250 staff and a budget of £64 million. During her time at Merton, the department has delivered continuous improvements to outcomes for children in the borough, including:

  • an increase in the percentage of all schools that are judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ from 81% to 95%
  • 100% of secondary and special schools now judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’
  • outcomes and progress improving year on year at all key stages
  • the highest Progress 8 score for GCSEs in the country in 2017, and consistently in the top 10% thereafter
  • whilst also delivering £2.5m cost efficiencies  across the Education Division

Now that her appointment has been ratified by Merton’s Cabinet, Jane will start as Director next month. The vacancy opened up after Rachael Wardell joined Surrey County Council last December, after two and a half years at Merton.

Jane said: “I’m delighted to take on this role. Having worked in the borough for six years I know the strength of partnership working in Merton and how this benefits children and families, I am committed to taking this from strength to strength. The staff team in Children, Schools and Families are dedicated and passionate about the work they do and it will be an honour to lead them.  The last year has been unprecedented and I know we have work to do to support the recovery from this pandemic but I am also really optimistic about the continuous improvement journey we are on to provide excellent services for our residents.”

Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Merton’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Education and joint Deputy Leader, said: “Our Children, Schools and Families team has achieved so much over recent years. Merton’s schools are performing better than ever and have done an incredible job throughout lockdown. Our children’s services teams have ensured we continue to deliver a highly-rated service to those in need throughout the pandemic, and our leadership team has always had the support of a great team of people.

“Jane has been an integral part of building that culture, and is the ideal person to continue to take the directorate on the upward curve everybody has worked so hard to deliver.”

ENDS

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A special gift for Mother’s Day

26 March, 2021 - 12:29

Read about how Mother’s Day this year was made extra special for resident Christopher at Florence Avenue Care Home in Morden, and his mother Charmaine, when the first step out of lockdown meant a special visitor was allowed.  

Florence Avenue Care Home is a small residential care home in Morden that looks after individuals with learning disabilities. The past year has been a struggle for both care home workers and residents, not being able to continue usual activities such as swimming and attending day centres, but also not being able to see their loved ones as visits were not allowed because of the pandemic. 

However, from 8 March, Care Home residents have been allowed to have one regular visitor, and Florence Avenue was able to reunite resident Christopher with his mother Charmaine on Mother’s Day, making it one to remember as they had not seen each other up close since the first lockdown. This was also a special reunion as they were able to meet in the care home’s purpose-built summerhouse for the first time. Charmaine is thankful to the staff at Florence Avenue Care Home for making it possible for her to see her son with the new summerhouse. 

Julia Rocks, Manager at Florence Avenue Care Home: “It has been a very difficult year for our service users, their families and our staff as we navigate our way through the pandemic. Being separated from loved ones is very stressful and it has been wonderful to finally start to see families reunited. Our new summerhouse offers a dedicated space where families can reconnect”.  

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Leader thanks key workers on first anniversary of pandemic

23 March, 2021 - 14:59

Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Mark Allison said:

“As we pause today to remember the impact of Covid-19 on so many families in the borough, I want to send a huge thank you to all Merton’s key workers, NHS colleagues, council staff and volunteers for everything you have done to help keep the borough safe and support those in  need.

“Sadly, the impact of the virus has affected many families locally, and today we also pause to remember those who we have lost too soon due the pandemic. In Merton, families have mourned more than 450 deaths over the past 12 months. It’s a solemn reminder of the severity of the virus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives, but one thing that never changes is the remarkable way the Merton community pull together when people are in need, as our Merton Together campaign has shown. From delivering food parcels to neighbours, to supporting older and vulnerable people, to donating to local charities, Merton residents have shown why this is such a great place to live.

“Communities, faith groups, neighbours and individuals have come forward to provide support in compassionate and meaningful ways which has allowed us to get food to vulnerable people who are isolating through our community hubs, provide welfare checks and raise vital funds.

“Finally, I also want to look ahead with hope and optimism for a safer future, we have already vaccinated over 56,000 people against COVID-19 in Merton, if you are eligible for the jab and haven’t yet had it please do book it now, it’s not too late to get the protection you and your loved ones need. Let’s keep Merton safe.”

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Nomination announced for next Mayor of Merton

22 March, 2021 - 20:10

A nomination has been made for the next mayor of Merton – who serves as the ceremonial and civic head of the borough.  

At the Cabinet meeting on Monday 22 March, the Council Leader, Councillor Mark Allison, announced that the Labour group is nominating Councillor Mike Brunt to be the next Mayor of Merton.

Councillor Brunt, who represents Figge’s Marsh Ward, is a former leader of Merton Council and a former Cabinet Member for the Environment. Councillor Brunt is currently interim Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces, covering the role for Councillor Natasha Irons, who is currently on maternity leave and is due to return in April.

At the Annual Council Meeting on 19 May, the full Council will decide who to appoint as Mayor of Merton for the municipal year 2021/22. 

Councillor Allison said: “The Labour group is pleased to nominate Councillor Mike Brunt to become the next Mayor of Merton. Mike has a sterling record of service to the borough, including as a former council leader, and has most recently agreed to be Merton’s first ever interim cabinet member to cover maternity leave.”  

Councillor Allison paid tribute to the current Mayor of Merton, Councillor Sally Kenny, who has served the borough during an unprecedented year. 

Councillor Allison said: “I would like to thank Councillor Sally Kenny for her hard work and dedication to representing Merton, during what has been an extraordinary mayoral term. During the second wave of the pandemic, Councillor Kenny has highlighted the everyday efforts of residents to help their neighbours by setting up the Mayor’s Covid-19 Award, which recognises the community spirit which makes Merton a great place to live. Councillor Kenny has also tirelessly fundraised to support her two nominated charities – Merton and Morden Guild of Social Services and Morden Little League.”

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The results are in for our COVID vaccine access survey

19 March, 2021 - 10:48

In Merton, we have been doing a lot of work to engage with local communities around COVID vaccine hesitancy, and to understand some of the barriers around access for residents. We ran a short survey for all residents to understand the preferences around what type of setting is preferred when the vaccine is offered. We also asked questions around what is most important when accessing the vaccine – being able to get there and back, the location, having the vaccine in a familiar place, and also it being delivered by trusted staff.

Out of all respondents, 75% were aged 45 and over and 69% of all respondents were female. The common theme of responses was around being able to have the vaccine locally. From this we also understand that having the vaccine delivered by trusted staff, and ease of being able to get to and from vaccine appointments is deemed very important. Also 64% of respondents said they would prefer to have their vaccination in a GP surgery. The vaccination is being offered in a variety of places across Merton, including GP and pharmacy-led services, hospitals and community vaccination centres.

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Businesses invited to post-lockdown COVID Webinars

18 March, 2021 - 16:10

Businesses are invited to online briefings to find out more about the latest Government guidance on the road out of lockdown.

Three briefings are being held for businesses in the Retail, Beauty/Close Contact and Hospitality industries. Hosted by the Food and Safety and Trading Standards officers for Richmond, Merton and Wandsworth councils, the events will give business owners / managers, an opportunity to find out more about the latest rules, what they need to do to keep their staff and customers safe, and understand what support is available to help them. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Businesses based in any of the three boroughs, can register for the events below. The events will be hosted on Zoom. Use the links below to book onto the most relevant event for your business.  

More information about general business support during the pandemic

More information about financial grants available for businesses

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A message from Councillor Agatha Mary Akyigyina OBE on women’s safety

18 March, 2021 - 12:11

Councillor Agatha Mary Akyigyina OBE, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Partnerships, Public Safety and Tackling Crime, said:

“Like so many of us in Merton, the capital, and beyond, I was horrified by the tragic death of Sarah Everard.

“Whilst the investigation of that case is still underway, the stories and experiences that women and girls have been sharing over recent days shine a spotlight onto an unacceptable reality that we know to be true: women and girls are at risk of violence on our streets, and many don’t feel safe.

“Merton Council stands shoulder to shoulder with women, and we are committed to tackling violence against women and girls.

“Our services are there to support anyone who has suffered domestic violence and abuse, sexual abuse and forced marriage. If you need to use these services, please find out more at merton.gov.uk/CommunitySafety.”

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Wimbledon library group make some noise to tackle loneliness

15 March, 2021 - 12:13

Since 2019, Tuned In – a project aimed at combating loneliness in the London Borough of Merton – has been running jam sessions at the Merton Arts Space in Wimbledon Library. The project is a collaboration between Merton Council and the renowned musician Jah Wobble (aka John Wardle), the original bassist from Public Image Ltd who has also worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Bjork, Primal Scream and Sinead O’Connor among many others, who facilitates each session.

The project targets men, particularly those in the age group 50+ – where loneliness is at its highest – but is open and accessible to all. Each session allows participants to share and develop musical skills and build knowledge, as well as helping individuals build social connections and friendship groups.

However, since the pandemic prevented in-person sessions from taking place, the project has moved online with a focus on music production.

Now, one year after the lockdown came into force, participants have used their enhanced digital skills to record a number of songs ready for a commercial music release. The first single, ‘Uptown Lockdown’, from the upcoming album was released by Cherry Red Records on Friday 12 March 2021.

Previous jam sessions can also be viewed on the project’s YouTube channel.

Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills, said: “Tuned In provides our residents with a fantastic opportunity, not only to work with a musical icon like Jah Wobble, but also to come out of their shell and make new friends around a common interest.

“Loneliness has always been an issue of great concern, especially among older men who are less likely to come forward to receive help, and this problem has only been made worse by the need to go into lockdown. That’s why I’m over the moon that we’ve been able to continue these sessions online, keeping that social connection alive, whilst also developing our participant’s digital skills.”

Jah Wobble said: “Tuned In is close to my heart, it’s as if I have helped form a club that I am now part of. I’m really proud of the whole group for putting their heart and soul into this album.

The new single, Uptown Lockdown, is a song that explores modernity, and this strange shared experience we’ve all had over the last year. I’d encourage everyone to give it a download to support the project.”

ENDS

Notes:

  1. Jah Wobble is available for interview by contacting. Call 020 8545 3483 to arrange.
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Sandra’s vaccine story

12 March, 2021 - 16:52

“I work for Adult Social Care and initially I was reluctant to have my COVID vaccine because of some of the negative information I saw online and on social media about the vaccine not being safe. 

“In January I changed my mind and had my first jab the day before my birthday. I felt a bit tired and light headed for a few hours the next day but did not have any other side effects.

“The vaccine gives protection to myself and the community. As a front line worker, I feel this is the right thing to do!”

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By-election announced for St Helier Ward

10 March, 2021 - 15:53

A by-election for St Helier Ward will take place on Thursday 6 May, following the resignation of Labour Councillor Kelly Braund.

The nomination process for candidates opens on Tuesday 23 March and the deadline for receipt of nomination papers is 4pm on Thursday 8 April. The candidates will be announced at 4pm on Friday 9 April.

Merton Council’s Chief Executive and Returning Officer, Ged Curran, said: “Following the resignation of Councillor Kelly Braund, I have been asked by the local government electors to hold a by-election for St Helier Ward so that the electorate can vote for a new St Helier councillor. As returning officer, I can announce that a St Helier Ward by-election will take place on Thursday 6 May.”

Residents living in St Helier Ward, who are not already on the electoral roll have until midnight on Monday 19 April to register to vote.

Residents who would prefer not to go to a polling station can apply for a postal vote by 5pm on Tuesday 20 April or apply for a proxy vote by 5pm on Tuesday 27 April.

The council is working hard to make polling stations safe for voters, who will be asked to social distance, wear a face covering and bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot paper.  

Voters must not visit a polling station if they have Covid symptoms, have tested positive for Covid or have been asked to self isolate. Arrangements will be in place for them to apply for an emergency proxy vote.

Find out more: www.merton.gov.uk/voting

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Leader thanks Wimbledon Park residents as enhanced testing programme comes to an end

5 March, 2021 - 11:32

The Leader of Merton Council has paid tribute to residents and volunteers in the Wimbledon Park area, after a week-long testing programme to track the South African variant of COVID-19 resulted in over 5,000 tests being delivered.

Following identification of a case of the variant at the beginning of February, which wasn’t linked to travel, the council joined together with the community, AFC Wimbledon Foundation and the Dons Local Action Group to raise awareness and deliver over 5,000 COVID-19 tests in a week.

With almost 4,000 kits already returned and the remainder due in the next day or two, the operation will now be closed down this week:

  • The Mobile Testing Units CLOSED at Wimbledon Golf Club and Wickes car park in Waterside Way closed yesterday (Wednesday 4 March).
  • The pick-up/drop-off service (Open Friday to 6pm, closes 4pm Saturday) at the Christ the King Church Hall at Crescent Gardens will be open today until 6pm, and on Saturday morning, until 4pm for drop-offs only.

Both operations were a success, with around 2,900 tests being completed at the mobile testing unit, and similar amount collected from the church hall (3,300 ).

Test results for the South African variant take up to 14 days to return via the NHS, following confirmation of a positive COVID-19 test, so it is too early to give any indication of results.

Council Leader Mark Allison said: “This is a great community effort, and I want to thank everyone in the Wimbledon Park area – businesses and residents alike – for the way they have responded to keep Merton safe. Both mobile testing units were fully booked as soon as they opened, and we met the target of 5,000 tests within a matter of days.

“A special thanks has to go to the council staff who have delivered the programme, whilst maintaining their own vital services, and of course to the AFC Wimbledon Foundation and Dons Local Action Group, who gave up their Saturday morning to support the operation, by delivering leaflets to properties in the Wimbledon Park enhanced testing area.

“Their support, along with that of the Commonside Trust who supported us during the testing in Pollards Hill last month, has again shown just how vital our amazing voluntary organisations are in the borough and what a wonderful community we have when Merton pulls together.”

ENDS

Notes:

  1. Council Leader Mark Allison is available for interview by contacting 020 8545 3483
  2. Please note: MTU operations close at 3pm Friday; the church hall will be open until 6pm, and will be open again Saturday morning, but only to drop off tests.

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Council counts the cost of Covid

3 March, 2021 - 22:24

The pandemic is putting unprecedented pressure on the council’s budget, currently leaving a £10million shortfall in funding. This might end up increasing further, as the government continues to fail to reimburse us for doing whatever it takes to support residents, particularly our most vulnerable, through Covid-19

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a year ago, the council has been working tirelessly to support our community through one of the toughest times in living memory.

Our adult social care teams have supported around 7,000 vulnerable people and their carers, and young people have continued to receive care and free school meals if eligible. Merton was one of the most successful councils in the country at providing financial support to businesses who were struggling to get by. The council has worked closely with the NHS to provide testing facilities and support the vaccination effort. The council also ensured that statutory services, such as refuse collections, have continued without interruption and that parks and green spaces have remained open throughout the pandemic.

The council will continue to do whatever it takes to provide support to vulnerable residents and families who are relying on food banks to be able to eat.  

So far, Covid-19 has cost the council £30.7m, and we have been reimbursed £21.4m. Together with other London boroughs, we are doing everything we can to lobby the government to reimburse the money so we can balance our budget and keep vital services running in future years. The fact is that this shortfall is compounded by more than ten years of chronic under-funding from the government.

The Government has said that local authorities can only access an increase in spending power it says we need if we increase Council Tax. So, like many local authorities across the country, Merton Council has been left with no alternative but to put up council tax by 4.99% in 2021/22, effectively a Covid Tax. Without any increase of council tax, the council would have been forced to make even greater cuts than those already proposed.

However, our business-like approach to managing the council’s budget has meant that in 2021/22, the council is able to extend our council tax support scheme for the ninth year running. This will help to bridge the gap between residents on low incomes as well as people who have become unemployed as a result of the pandemic and those who have been able to remain working in better paid employment. The council has seen a significant increase in the number of people accessing this support in the past year, as many families across the borough have been impacted by the pandemic.

The pandemic follows a decade of austerity, which has seen the government cut grant funding to councils by 40% since 2010. This has left local authorities without enough money to cover the increasing need for vital services, in particular those supporting older people, those with disabilities, and children with additional needs.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “As it has been for the past 12 months, the council’s immediate priority is to do everything it takes to support our borough, particularly the most vulnerable residents, through the pandemic.

“So far, we have spent tens of millions of pounds on the response to Covid and we are making every effort to get this money reimbursed by the government, so that we can balance our budget and keep vital services running. Unfortunately, due to the Government’s failure to fully recompense us for our response to the pandemic, we have been left with no choice but to propose a series of Covid cuts to services and what amounts to a Covid Tax, raising council tax in line with the Government assumptions.

“As we have taken a business-like approach to our finances, the council has been able to keep our most valued services running, but it will not be easy in the future – we need to find ways to fill a void of millions of pounds left by left by years of austerity and the costs of the pandemic. We will be counting the cost of Covid for many years to come.”

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Every child to get a place in a quality secondary school in Merton

2 March, 2021 - 16:40

Every Merton family who applied for a secondary place starting this September 2021 has now been offered a place at school in the borough after the applications process finished for this year.  All secondary schools in Merton are rated Good or outstanding by Ofsted.

The council has been able to offer 85 per cent of schoolchildren a place at one of their top three secondary school choices, and 90 per cent have been offered a place at one of their preferred schools. 

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “We are delighted to maintain our record in securing a place for every child, and in particular at a time when the vast majority of secondary schools in Merton are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted, resulting in significant demand for the excellent provision in the area. 

“Secondary schools in Merton are some of the best in London – over the last three years of exam results, Merton has been one of the top areas in the country for the progress pupils make between the ages of 11-16 in the Government’s Progress 8 scores based on schools’ GCSE results. That means that whatever preference you secured – and the vast majority secured a top three preference – your child is guaranteed a good education at a Merton school. In a reality where demand for places is high, our borough offers guaranteed quality secondary education to every young person.”

The council is reminding families that they need to respond to secondary school offers of places by Monday 15 March and to visit its website School Admissions pages if they require further guidance on securing school places. 

Parents can find out more at http://www.merton.gov.uk/secondaryplace 

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Step-by-step lifting of lockdown restrictions: key dates

26 February, 2021 - 13:57

From 8 March, people in England will see restrictions start to lift and the government’s four-step roadmap offer a route back to a more normal life. 

At each step, restrictions will be lifted across the whole of England at the same time. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step, and the government will be guided by data to avoid a surge in infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. This lifting of restrictions requires four tests on vaccines, infection rates and new coronavirus variants to be met at each stage. 

Step 1  8 March 
  • All schools and colleges will open, with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed to take place. Childcare will resume. 
  • Recreation or exercise outdoors will be allowed between two people. 
  • Care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor. 
  • During this time, we must continue to stay at home and no household mixing is permitted.  
29 March 
  • Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, including in private gardens.  
  • Outdoor sport and leisure facilities such as tennis courts will reopen, and organised outdoor sport will return for both adults and children. 
Step 2  12 April 
  • Non-essential retail will reopen, along with hairdressers, community centres, and libraries. 
  • Indoor leisure (including gyms) will reopen for individual or household use. 
  • Outdoor settings including hospitality, zoos and theme parks will reopen. 
  • Self-contained holiday accommodation such as holiday lets and campsites will reopen to individual households. 

Check with your local place of worship for the latest advice. 

A summary of the roadmap, including details of steps 3 and 4, is available on Twitter. You can view the full roadmap on the government website, and you can also watch the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on YouTube.

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Tricia’s vaccine story

26 February, 2021 - 13:55

Tricia Pereira is Head of Operations Adults Social Care & Adult Safeguarding for Merton Council and is also an informal family carer. She has joined the millions of others who have had their COVID-19 vaccination to do their part to protect the people they love. 

Tricia says:  

“I’d seen lots of negative stories on WhatsApp and Social media talking about shocking side effects and DNA changes, but I did my own research on reputable NHS sites. I had the Astra Zeneca vaccine and it was really quick and painless. Afterwards I felt a bit dizzy for a while and tired, the next day I had a sore arm and that was it. Following my vaccine my aunt was reassured to have hers and I took her get her vaccine, my mum and sister had theirs too, my husband has just received his appointment. I would recommend looking at trusted people and in trusted places for factual information. My children are back at school now too and I can rest assured that I’ve done my bit to protect myself and my loved ones.” 

Find out more: Merton Covid-19 vaccination programme – South West London CCG (swlondonccg.nhs.uk)

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Enhanced testing to launch in Wimbledon Park area to track South African variant of Covid-19

25 February, 2021 - 19:35

Merton Council will launch a week-long programme of enhanced testing in the Wimbledon Park area to track the South African variant of Covid-19, after a case was found in the area with no link to recent travel. 

The activity is part of the national enhanced testing programme to track and minimise the spread of Covid-19 variants. This has already seen Merton run a successful, unrelated enhanced testing programme in Pollards Hill this month, which has so far found no new cases of the variant. 

The latest enhanced offer will be more targeted, as the case occurred in early February during lockdown, and the council will be looking to distribute 5,000 tests in a week, rather than the 10,000 required for Pollards Hill. 

The council is asking anybody with no symptoms who is over 16 years old and lives, works or travels for essential reasons to the Wimbledon Park area to get a test via one of the ways offered below. 

Mobile Testing Unit – Wimbledon Park Golf Club 

Residents can book a test at one of the mobile testing units situated at Wimbledon Park Golf Club, Home Park Road, SW19 7HR or at Wickes car park, Plough Lane Retail Park, Waterside Way SW19 0BW.  

Mobile testing units are open daily from Friday 26 February, 8am–3pm until Thursday 4 March.  

Pre-booking is required and can be done at merton.gov.uk/EnhancedTests 

Pick-up/drop-off test centre, Wimbledon Park 

A pick-up and drop-off centre will be operating at Christ the King Church Hall, 9 Crescent Gardens, Wimbledon Park, SW19 8AJ.  

Here, residents will be able to pick up and drop off home testing kits. The centre will be open from Monday 1 March, 8:30am–6pm until Friday 5 March. 

Testing is being targeted to local postcodes in the Wimbledon Park area – residents are able to check if they are in the testing area by visiting merton.gov.uk/enhancedtesting and checking the map 

Mark Allison, Leader of Merton Council, said: “I’d like to reassure those in the Wimbledon Park area over this testing programme. Enhanced testing is to stop any potential spread, and doesn’t mean there is any current outbreak happening in the area. 

“I’d also like to thank everyone in advance for their support – Merton is a great place, as we saw from the response to enhanced testing in Pollards Hill recently, which really reassured people and has so far found no new cases of the variant. I have no doubt residents in Wimbledon Park will be equally supportive. 

“Our plan is to run this programme for a week and offer reassurance to people that there has been no spread of the South African variant.  

“It is also important to remember that this doesn’t have any impact whatsoever on the wider rules around lockdown, or what you can and can’t do. Those rules stay the same and I’d like to thank our residents, because Merton’s community have stuck to the rules and as a result the infection rates fallen.” 

ENDS 

Council Leader Mark Allison is available for interview by contacting communications@merton,.gov.uk or by contacting the press office on 020 8545 3483

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