NEW News from Merton Council

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Updated: 19 min 12 sec ago

Reopening of the civic centre – how to access our services safely

16 hours 17 min ago

Keeping you and our staff safe is our top priority. This is why the safest way to access support from us is on our website or over the telephone on 020 8274 4901 rather than visiting us in person. You’ve done really well over the last four months by accessing services remotely, let’s keep that up and keep everyone safe.

If you cannot access your service this way and need to visit the civic centre, the building will reopen to the public from Wednesday 5 August, 10am-4pm. It will look and feel a little different and we ask you to follow some simple safety guidance:

  • Do not enter the civic centre if you are ill or have a fever, cough, or a loss of smell and taste or difficulty breathing.
  • Visit alone, unless you need a helper or have young children you need to bring with you.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Use hand sanitiser before entering and when leaving the building.
  • Adhere to social distancing throughout the building.
  • Follow the advice and instructions of staff.
Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton Community Fridge: feeding the borough and cutting food waste

16 hours 49 min ago

The rise in unemployment and personal issues resulting from the pandemic has massively increased the amount of residents unable to secure an adequate and nutritious diet for themselves and their families. However, Merton’s Community Fridge continues to offer fresh, healthy food.

Each week, volunteers hand out free food parcels to eligible residents at Morden Baptist Church, Grasmere Avenue, on Thursday afternoons from 2–4pm. Merton’s Community Fridge was conceived by Sustainable Merton, Merton’s leading environmental charity, before the COVID-19 crisis, to help find a long-term solution to tackle food poverty and reduce food waste. During the lockdown it became part of the emergency response to provide food for hundreds of people, including residents unable to shop as they were required to shield.

Sustainable Merton’s Community Champions, a 70-strong group of residents passionate about improving the environment, played a key role in establishing Merton’s Community Fridge. They worked tirelessly to get food to people and continue to keep the lifeline going. Thanks to the time they have given, in May and June alone, Sustainable Merton distributed over 1,700kg of food, saving 5,550kg of CO2, and provided food assistance to almost 50 families.

As soon as lockdown came into place, Merton Council, in partnership with Merton College and Sustainable Merton, led on the co-ordination of a rapidly-established network of local organisations working together to tackle the COVID-19 food crisis. A central food distribution hub was set up at Merton College, Morden, which has bulk storage facilities. Food was brought to the hub, staffed by Merton Council employees, by the London Food Alliance and came from surplus stock, donated by wholesalers, manufacturers, restaurants and supermarkets. A range of groups distributed food, including Sustainable Merton, Wimbledon Foodbank, The Wimbledon Guild, The Dons Local Action Group, Kommunity Kitchen, the Salvation Army, Commonside Development Trust, Friends in St. Helier, the Polish Family Association, as well as Tooting and Mitcham Football Club.

If you want to volunteer, receive a food parcel, or donate fresh food, visit www.sustainablemerton.org or email communityfridge@sustainablemerton.org.

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton Council calls on Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate proposal to downgrade St Helier Hospital

3 August, 2020 - 12:33

Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis outside the London Offices of the EHRC

Merton Council is writing to the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), asking him to investigate the proposed decision to downgrade St Helier Hospital.

The letter is being sent following the approval of the decision making business case by the NHS Committees in Common of the South West London and Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Groups on 3 July, to locate a new specialist emergency care hospital in Belmont, south of Sutton, rather than at St Helier Hospital.

The council is calling on the EHRC to investigate because it believes that the effect of closing critical services, including the accident and emergency department, paediatrics and consultant-led maternity services, would be to disadvantage the most deprived residents in the hospital catchment area.

The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Alambritis, who is a former EHRC commissioner, said: “Downgrading St Helier Hospital is a terrible decision, which will have a particularly detrimental impact on our most deprived residents. We are asking the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate whether the full adverse impact on BAME communities of closing critical health services at St Helier Hospital has been properly taken into account.

“The importance of this has been underlined by COVID-19 – people from BAME communities are more likely to become seriously ill after contracting the virus and, as we will be living with the pandemic for some time to come, this must be taken into account when planning future health services.”

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Women and Equalities, Councillor Laxmi Attawar, said: “It is clear that BAME communities will be disproportionally adversely affected by the proposed decision to downgrade St Helier Hospital. The plans would result in an unacceptable risk of an inferior health service for residents who rely on acute care the most.

“We are questioning whether the needs of BAME communities have been thoroughly evaluated when planning critical health care services and if their views have been given sufficient consideration.”

ENDS

Categories: News from elsewhere

Discover the hearts and enjoy a staycation in Merton this summer

30 July, 2020 - 15:30

Giant white hearts have popped up in Merton’s parks as part of a campaign encouraging residents to enjoy the borough’s attractions and help its businesses and enterprises recover.

Merton Council has painted hearts in some of its beautiful parks for the Discover Merton campaign, which showcases green spaces and activities residents can enjoy on their doorsteps. It is just one of the council’s initiatives to encourage everyone to come together and help the borough recover from the effects of the lockdown.

Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, the Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture “We’re inviting everyone to enjoy a staycation in Merton this summer to help the borough’s leisure activities, shops, restuarants, pubs and cafes recover following the lockdown. We want to remind residents that we have amazing green spaces, heritage and fantastic attractions across the whole borough for them to explore. The council and businesses have been working hard to introduce safety measures to protect residents from the coronavirus and so we are encouraging everyone to support the local community and economy.”

“Our parks became a haven for residents during lockdown and so the hearts are our way of expressing this love. It’s also to remind people to show love to fellow park users by adhering to the social distancing guidelines and help control the spread of COVID-19.”

Merton has more than a hundred amazing parks and open spaces ranging from, nature reserves and ornamental gardens to the large commons, high profile parks and recreation grounds. The parks offer the chance for residents to discover nature, wonder at floral displays, take part in a range of activities from bowls to kayaking, or enjoy a picnic and heart-to-heart with loved ones.

The council is running a Hunt the Heart quiz, via social media, which gives clues highlighting the unique attractions of the five green spaces where the giant hearts are located.

Here is just a few of our Discover Merton top tips of great activities from across the borough to enjoy over the summer. Visit our website for more ways to make the most of Merton this summer. Download a free activity sheet for children here. Don’t forget to share your pictures on social media using hashtag #DiscoverMerton to inspire other families to join in the fun.

  • Explore Merton Abbey Mills and discover the working waterwheel in the wheelhouse pottery café.
  • Try paddle sports at Wimbledon Watersports Centre.
  • Say hello to the animals at Deen City Farm.
  • Cross one of London’s first rainbow crossings to celebrate the LGBTQ community.
  • Walk in the footsteps of Lord Nelson by following Nelson Trail.
  • Discover Merton’s wartime heritage and women’s suffrage.
  • Get to know the trees in the 140-year-old woods on Canon Hill Common.
  • Cycle round Mitcham Common to admire the ponds and diverse habitats.

Visit: www.merton.gov.uk/discover

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Don’t lose your voice – Merton residents urged to look out for their voter registration details

23 July, 2020 - 13:00

Local residents are being warned not to lose their voice on decisions that affect them by making sure their electoral registration details are up to date.

From the end of July, Merton residents will start to receive communication from the Electoral Services team at Merton Council, either by email, by post, or by SMS message asking them to make sure their details are up to date. This annual canvass ensures the council can keep the electoral register up to date, identifying any residents who are not registered so that they can be encouraged to do so.

You must respond to these communications if:

  • you are asked to by the council
  • any of the information that the council has recorded for you is wrong
  • there are people at your address who are eligible to register to vote, but are not included in the communication.

With elections taking place to elect the Mayor of London and members of the London Assembly in May 2021, this is an important opportunity for residents to make sure they can take part.

People who have moved recently are particularly encouraged to look out for the voter registration messages from the council and check the details. Research by the Electoral Commission indicates that recent home movers are far less likely to be registered than those who have lived at the same address for a long time. Across Great Britain, 92% of people who have been at their property for more than sixteen years will be registered, compared to 36% of people who have lived at an address for less than one year.

The name of any resident who is not currently registered will not appear in the messages sent by the council. If you want to register, the easiest way is online on the gov.uk website. As part of the canvass, residents will also be sent information explaining how to register in the post.

This year’s canvass, which has to be carried out by law, is taking place during a challenging public health situation. The council is working to ensure that they take account of public health guidelines, including the continued importance of social distancing. Residents are being encouraged to swiftly respond to communications from the council, as this will prevent the need for home visits by Electoral Services staff.

-Ends-

Notes to editors

  1. The Representation of the People Act 1983 places a duty on Electoral Registration Officers to maintain the electoral register for their area and to conduct an annual canvass of all residential properties.
  2. The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service or checking credit applications.
  3. The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.
  4. To be eligible to register to vote a person must be:
  • Aged 16 or over (a person may register to vote at 16, but may not vote until they are 18)
  • A British or qualifying Commonwealth citizen who has leave to enter and remain in the UK or does not require such leave.
  • A citizen of the Republic of Ireland or other European Union (EU) member state.
  1. British citizens, Irish citizens and qualifying citizens of Commonwealth countries (including Cyprus and Malta) can vote in local government elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. To date, the UK Government has not made changes to the eligibility of EU citizens, meaning at present they too can vote in these elections.

Full details of the Electoral Commission’s research on the electoral registers can be found on its website.

Categories: News from elsewhere

New COVID-19 Outbreak Control Plan published by Merton Council

23 July, 2020 - 10:57

Merton Council has a Local Outbreak Control Plan that sets out how we will manage future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Merton. 

The new plan sets out how the council will work with its partners including Public Health England, the NHS, the voluntary sector, businesses and with community leaders to keep all people in Merton safe, and support those who are vulnerable and require our help for protection. 

It will focus on how we can prevent the spread of the virus and local outbreaks, for example in care homes, schools, work places and other settings where people are close together, while coming out of lock down and restarting economic activity. It also prepares for a potential second wave of COVID-19.  

We know that every incident will be different and that we will have to assess outbreaks on a case-by-case basis, but having a plan allows us to respond quickly in a structured way. 

Everyone who lives, works or visits the borough has a critical role to play in following the necessary measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission, including isolating when symptoms develop and getting tested, or isolating if identified as a contact of a case. 

 If you have COVID symptoms, get tested now – nhs/coronavirus or call 119.

 You can view the current Merton Local Outbreak Control Plan on our website.

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton Council to demand proposal to downgrade St Helier Hospital is called in by health secretary

21 July, 2020 - 20:58

Merton Council will write to the Secretary of State of Health and Social Care asking for an independent review into the proposed decision to downgrade St Helier Hospital by closing acute services, including the accident and emergency department and consultant-led maternity care.

The council’s Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel decided at their meeting tonight (21 July) to send a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, following the approval of the decision making business case by the NHS Committees in Common of the South West London and Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Groups on 3 July.

The decision-making business case advocates Belmont in the south of Sutton as the preferred location for a specialist emergency care hospital, which means that St Helier Hospital would be downgraded.

The council is challenging this on the grounds that this would mean moving vital health services away from deprived areas and into a more affluent place. The council warns this could lead to patients seeking emergency care at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, which is geographically closer to many Merton residents than Belmont, or deciding not to seek hospital treatment at all.

In the letter, the council also argues that the impact of COVID-19 has not properly been taken into account and it is still too early to ascertain what effect the pandemic will have on planning future health services for the area. A public consultation, run earlier this year, by the former NHS Merton, Sutton and Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Groups, branding themselves as Improving Healthcare Together, concluded as lockdown began.

Chair of the Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Councillor Peter McCabe, said: “Closing acute services at St Helier Hospital, including the accident and emergency department and the consultant-led maternity service would be detrimental to residents in the most deprived areas of Merton and would result in a substantially inferior health service for patients across the borough and beyond.

“As a consequence, we have therefore decided to ask the health secretary to refer the proposed decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, before the final decision is made on the location of the specialist emergency care hospital by the CCGs.”

Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: “Closing these vital services at St Helier is a terrible decision for thousands of people across Merton who have relied on them, and the hospital, for years. They are, again, being forgotten amid the desperation to save money in local health services.

“The huge impact of COVID-19 on local health services has not properly been taken into account and lessons from the pandemic must be learned before decisions are made about the future of critical health services for Merton residents.”

Categories: News from elsewhere

Keep your business COVID-secure with the help of our free webinars

20 July, 2020 - 16:16

Our Regulatory Services Partnership (RSP) is running a series of free webinars for businesses in the close contact and leisure sectors. They will be presented by a Chartered Principal Trading Standards Practitioner from the RSP, and a Health and Safety Officer.

The webinars will focus upon particular professions and the steps needed to keep you, your staff and customers safe. They will begin with a summary of the recent thinking about how the virus spreads, to provide a better understanding of the safety measures you’re being asked to implement. The RSP will also share some of the practical steps other businesses are taking to bring customers back and keep them returning.

Each webinar will be 30 to 40 minutes long and will cover the following content, as it relates to your business sector:

  • COVID-19 virus in a nutshell (context to guidance requirements)
  • Checklist for your risk assessment
  • Practical advice how to be COVID-Secure,
  • The official government guidance for your sector
  • Trade Association guidance
  • Practical application of the 1m+ rule
  • Support from the Council on trading outdoors, pavements, noise complaints

Each session will also cover steps to reduce risk to staff/customers indoors, including:

  • ‘Cleaning’ the air of airborne virus particles
  • Best practice from your industry
  • Face cloth coverings vs shields
  • Social distancing signage, templates and best practice
  • Simple steps to boost customer confidence and bring customers back
  • Government’s new free Recovery Advice for Business
  • RSP’s free, tailored regulatory advice for your business on COVID compliance, risk assessments, health and safety
How to book

Registration for these webinars will open soon. In the meantime, you can register your interest by emailing our RSP colleagues in Wandsworth at businessevents@wandsworth.gov.uk, stating which session you would like to attend.

Timetable Topic Date Time Gyms, leisure centres and sports halls Monday 27 July 2020 10am Pools and spas (hot tubs, hydrotherapy pools, spa pools) Monday 27 July 2020 1pm Massage therapists/parlours Monday 27 July 2020 4pm Hairdressers, barbers, nail bars, beauty salons and mobile therapists Tuesday 28 July 2020 10am Tutoring (classroom and 121 style) Tuesday 28 July 2020 1pm Not all face coverings are the same* Tuesday 28 July 2020 4pm Pubs and restaurants Wednesday 29 July 2020 10am Children’s activity providers – activities, classes, clubs for kids Wednesday 29 July 1pm Offices and contact centres Wednesday 29 July 4pm Personal trainers Thursday 30 July 10am Tradesmen and those visiting others’ homes Thursday 30 July 1pm Hotels and other guest accommodation, including Airbnb style accommodation Thursday 30 July 4pm Dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers Friday 31 July 10am Non-contact therapies eg counselling, hypnotherapy, psychology Friday 31 July 1pm Tanning businesses Friday 31 July 4pm

* For all businesses considering face coverings for staff. These vary significantly in their effectiveness at stopping virus transmission, depending upon the design and materials. Discover how to best protect your staff and customers. The webinar also explores face coverings vs PPE vs face shields and the new requirement for face coverings in shops.

Lessons learned after reopening

The following webinars will be a short refresher of the guidance, focusing primarily on sharing examples of poor and best practice found at different types of premises, so you can learn what others in your industry are doing to keep their customers safe.

Topic Date Time Gyms, leisure centres and sports halls Tuesday 11 August 10am Pools and spas (hot tubs, hydrotherapy pools, spa pools) Tuesday 11 August 1pm Massage therapists/parlours Tuesday 11 August 4pm Hairdressers, barbers, nail bars, beauty salons and mobile beauty therapists Wednesday 12 August 10am Pubs and restaurants Wednesday 12 August 1pm Hotels and other guest accommodation, including Airbnb style accommodation Wednesday 12 August 4pm Retail shops Thursday 13 August 10am About the RSP

The Regulatory Services Partnership (RSP) is a Council owned service, serving the London Boroughs of Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth. They have over 50 highly trained, experienced advisors covering Environmental health (food hygiene, labelling and food safety); health and safety; licensing and pollution (air, land, noise, water);

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton in Bloom

13 July, 2020 - 12:07

Merton in Bloom is going ahead so everyone can show their appreciation to the borough’s gardeners whose colourful displays of flowers and plants have brought so much joy to residents in these challenging times.

This year the contest is a little different, there are fewer categories, but, as well as people being able to enter their own gardens into the contest, anyone can nominate a local garden or floral feature in the borough that has impressed them.

These can include front gardens, allotment plots or gardens at pubs, restaurants or other business premises as well as those at community venues or schools.

Entries can be made in the following categories:

·       Best residential front garden.

·        Best community or business garden – including pubs, restaurants or schools.

·        Best garden features such as window boxes, troughs or planters.

·         Best allotment plot.

Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture Caroline Cooper Marbiah said: “Celebrating the contribution Merton’s marvellous gardeners make to the borough is more important than ever this year. The talents and efforts of our green-fingered residents have been brightening up so many people’s daily lives in these challenging times. This is why we are also inviting neighbours and those passing by impressive gardens or displays to show their appreciation by making nominations.

 “We have had to reduce the categories this year due to the difficult circumstances – but there is still the opportunity for all growing accomplishments to be showcased from small colourful window boxes to larger community gardens.

 “As usual we are inviting entries from expert gardeners and budding enthusiasts, however we would also like to encourage residents, of all ages, who discovered the joys of gardens during lockdown to enter.”

 Merton in Bloom is part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom gardening competition, which encourages residents to brighten up their neighbourhoods.

The Merton in Bloom 2020 competition is now open and the closing date for entries is Friday 14 August. The winners will be announced in October.

To find out more and make nominations visit www.merton.gov.uk/communities-and-neighbourhoods/events/merton-in-bloom

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Government support package ‘will not come close’ to covering council losses

3 July, 2020 - 14:09

Statement from Councillor Stephen Alambritis, The Leader of the London Borough of Merton.

The Leader of the London Borough of Merton has said the Government’s latest support package for councils “will not come close” to covering the losses being incurred by authorities across the capital.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis, who’s authority in South West London has been recognised as one of London’s more financially stable in recent years, warned that the latest funding package – which only helps cover less than 75% of losses incurred through freezing local fees and services – will create a £20 million hole in budgets for his council.

He said: “During the course of the pandemic, we’ve worked tirelessly to protect our most vulnerable residents and support those in need. We’ve absorbed the cost of launching new services almost overnight and redirected resources and staff towards the crisis.

“This announcement, while welcome, does not come close to meeting the combined impacts of loss of income and additional spending incurred by councils. By only being able to recover 75% of 95% of our income losses, we will be left with a budget gap in Merton of an estimated £20 million on top of the pressures we had going into the pandemic.

“That’s far too much for any local area to absorb. Councils were already at breaking point before Covid-19 and the promised “comprehensive support package” promised just isn’t being delivered in this announcement.

“We also have to factor in that we are by no means out of this yet. The risk of a second wave is there, and consumer confidence will take time to return to the high streets. Losses to local budgets are far from over.”

ENDS

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton reopening for business: show your support for local traders

2 July, 2020 - 09:12

By Councillor Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council 

This Saturday we will see the reopening of even more local businesses in our borough – pubs and bars, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and barbers as well as hotels and B&Bs.

In Merton we have 6,000 businesses of varying sizes, but a great proportion of those are small businesses, family firms, local companies. As these businesses begin to open once again, the support of you, their customers, has never been more important.

That is why my message to you is clear; come and show your support to your local traders – they need your custom to stay alive.

Support doesn’t need to be a physical presence; below are four ways you can help your local traders get through these tough financial times.

As a business-friendly council. we’ve done what we can to help. We’ve given out more cash grants to businesses than almost any other London boroughs and are continuing to do so with the launch of phase two of the discretionary grants programme. This will allow more local small businesses to apply for a one-off payment to help them through the coronavirus crisis. The funding for the programme comes from the Government’s Local Authority Grant Fund, something which we, together with other London councils, have campaigned hard for.

We are also helping you get around the borough as safely as possible, we’ve made some temporary changes to roads and pavements across the borough, providing space for you to walk and cycle more safely. This is a key step to help support local businesses as they begin to reopen.

Finally, I’d like to remind you to continue to stay alert. Although the lockdown is easing, this is still a period of high risk. The responsibility for controlling the virus sits with us as residents and it’s down to us to continue to follow the public health advice – maintain social distancing and wash your hands regularly. Read our shop local and shop safe article for tips on visiting the high street.

Thank you for reading and stay safe.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis 
Leader of Merton Council


Ways to support your local businesses:
  1. Shop locally shop online: Many smaller businesses who have not previously offered an online service may have started during lockdown, so check to see if you can support your local trader through their website as well as in person.
  2. Order takeaway food and drink: Although many restaurants and cafes had to close their doors to traders for table service, many reopened for takeaway and delivery. With a reduction in the number of customers that can be served in restaurants due to social distancing, many small businesses may start or continue to offer a takeaway service. So rather than turning to the big delivery platforms, give your local restaurant a call or pop to your favorite café instead.
  3. Leave good reviews: A good way to support your local business is to follow them on social media or leave a good review online. This will not only help to spread the word of how the business has adapted during lockdown, but will also reach new audiences and show people their business is a safe place to shop.
  4. Reschedule missed appointments: To assure local businesses that they still have your business, reschedule an appointment for a future date. 
Categories: News from elsewhere

More Merton businesses can apply for our discretionary grants programme

30 June, 2020 - 19:21

After the successful completion of phase one of our discretionary grants programme, we launched phase two on Monday 29 June. This will allow more local small businesses to apply for a one-off payment to help them through the coronavirus crisis.

The funding for the programme comes from the Government’s Local Authority Grant Fund, something which we, together with other London councils, have campaigned hard for.

In this second phase, we’ll be awarding grants to:

  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Other small businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs.
  • Businesses that occupy a property with a rateable value below £51,000

Priority will be given to businesses and organisations that demonstrate they support closing the equality gap between the east and west of the borough

Eligible local businesses can apply for sums of £25,000, £10,000, or any amount less than £10,000 depending on their fixed costs and the loss of earnings incurred by the lockdown. Therefore, as part of the application process, businesses will need to provide one or more of the following items:

  • Proof of property costs
  • evidence to demonstrate a substantial loss in income as a result of the current situation
  • bank statements
  • profit and loss accounts
  • audited accounts

The closing date to apply is Monday 13 July at 12.00pm.

To apply, or to read more about the details of the fund and the criteria we’ll be using for each phase, visit our Discretionary Grant Fund webpage.

Categories: News from elsewhere

Reopening leisure facilities in your parks

25 June, 2020 - 15:00

We are delighted to have reopened tennis courts, beach volleyball and Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre.

The staff at Wimbledon Watersports Centre are very excited to be back on the water!

Our top priority is keeping you safe whilst using the facilities and that’s why we’ve taken care putting social distancing measures in place. Some facilities may look and feel a little different and we will ask you to follow some guidance when visiting.

Tennis courts and beach volleyball

We have reopened tennis courts across the borough and the beach volleyball court in Wimbledon Park for pre-booked sessions. We hope you enjoy using these sports facilities this weekend and in the future, but would ask that you continue to follow the government guidance and only meet one person from outside your household (until 4 July when two households of any size can meet) and observe social distancing rules.

Book now

Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre

Want to try something a little different now lockdown is easing? Give paddle sports a go. Book your session at our watersports centre with one of our experienced instructors and take to the water in Wimbledon Park. Group and 1:1 sessions are available to book.

We are also taking bookings for children’s sailing and multi watersports courses taking place during July and August – which should be the school summer holidays!

All sessions and holiday courses are for people aged 10 years plus.

Book now

Visiting your park this weekend

Whether you’re enjoying your local park for the sunshine or exercise this weekend, we want to remind you to take your rubbish home with you if the park bins are full. Park staff are working hard to empty the bins, but with more people using the boroughs open spaces the bins fill up much more quickly.

We hope you enjoy our parks this sunny weekend.

Categories: News from elsewhere

The easing of lockdown continues…

25 June, 2020 - 15:00
However our overriding priority is safety…

We welcome this weeks government update (23 June) on the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, focusing on the further reopening of our businesses and shops, and for you to enjoy greater freedoms.

However, our overriding priority is to ensure we all remain safe. This means that we will only begin to reopen more of our services when we feel we can do this safely. We are working hard to provide you with dates and further information as soon as possible.

We will continue to keep our COVID-19 webpage updated with information.

Here is a breakdown of the UK Government changes announced on Tuesday 23 June:

From 4 July:

  • Where 2 meters social distancing is not possible, 1 meter plus should be observed.
  • Two households of any size will be allowed to meet in any setting (inside and out).
  • Restaurants, bars and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen. Hotels, B&Bs and campsites will also be able to open.
  • Leisure spaces that can do so safely – such as galleries, museums, libraries, social clubs and community centres can open. We’ll provide updates on council operated venues as soon as we’re able to do so.
  • Places of worship will be allowed to reopen and they’ll be allowed to host-socially distanced wedding services with up to 30 guests.

From 6 July:

  • Individuals who have been advised to shield during lockdown will be allowed to have socially-distanced outdoor meetings with up to 5 people from other households.

From 1 August:

  • From 1 August the government will be advising that shielding is paused and people adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. For more information visit the government website.

From September:

  • The government has advised that it will fully reopen schools. We’ll provide updates on Merton schools as soon as we’re able to do so.
Categories: News from elsewhere

Shop local, shop safe: Six tips for visiting your high street

17 June, 2020 - 13:00

Many of our high street shops reopened this week for the first time since we went into lockdown at the end of March.

This is great news for our local businesses, who will need our support to survive through this difficult time, but we all need to act with great care when visiting the high street to avoid a resurgence of the virus.

To reduce the risk of transmission, we urge you to follow these six tips:

  1. Shop local: Social distancing regulations mean that our public transport system can only take a fraction of its previous capacity, and increased car usage would only worsen congestion and air quality in the borough. Try to shop as locally as possible, travelling by foot or bicycle. This will also help your local businesses to rebound after losing a lot of income during lockdown.
  2. Maintain social distancing: Try to stay 2 metres away from anyone you don’t live with. Queuing systems and one-way routes through shops should help you to keep your distance from others.
  3. Wash your hands: You should wash your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds before you leave your home and immediately after you return. You should also avoid touching your face whilst you’re out and about.
  4. Use contactless to pay: If possible, use contactless payment rather than cash or by entering your PIN number. To help slow the spread of the virus, you should try to touch as few items and surfaces as possible.
  5. Be patient: Some things may take longer than they used to. Queuing to get into a shop and following a one-way system may mean you have to wait for others in front of you. Remember, these new regulations have been put in place to protect you, your family and the ones that you love from a potentially deadly virus, so please show patience and keep a safe distance.
  6. Keep smiling: If we work together and follow the rules, we can keep the risk of spreading the virus to a minimum. Keep smiling and enjoy visiting your favourite shops for the first time in three months!
Concerned about health and safety on the high street? We’re here to answer your questions.

As you visit your local shops and traders, you may have questions or concerns about your health and safety on the high street. ‘Is it safe to pick up an item then put it back down’ and ‘Do shop staff have to wear masks’, could be questions you’d like answered.

Fear not, officers from our Regulatory Service will be taking to Twitter on Monday 22 June at 4pm to answer some of these questions. To take part, simply tweet your question to us using #ReopenMerton

Useful articles:
Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton Council’s rapid and wide-ranging response to Covid-19

16 June, 2020 - 12:04

A report covering how the council speedily reacted and adapted to meet the unprecedented challenges Covid -19 brought was presented at Merton’s cabinet meeting on Monday.

The mobilisation of staff to the front-line to support residents vulnerable to the virus, the speedy allocation of financial support to businesses and the council’s key role to help create one of London’s first volunteer hubs to help those most impacted by the virus, are among the highlights. The council also worked to ensure the safe-guarding of vulnerable adults and children remained a priority and that services important to all residents such as refuse collections continued.

The Borough Emergency Control Centre operated seven days a week during the lockdown to meet the changing and increasing demands on services. As part of the operation 94 members of staff were urgently deployed to take part in the emergency response, and to ensure critical services for residents could continue to be delivered.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: “The council’s rapid reaction to the unprecedented challenges Covid-19 brought and its work to adapt services has been hugely impressive.

“I am particularly proud of the way Merton’s residents, voluntary and community groups and businesses have worked with the council to help make the borough safe and ensure our  most vulnerable residents have been protected.

“There is still a long way to go and the council is now working hard on recovery plans so we can continue to support our residents and businesses every step of the way.”

Work across the council to meet the challenges of the life under lockdown, included:

  • Contacting 6,959 residents on the shielding program, for those extra-vulnerable to the virus due to underlying health conditions. The residents were contacted, either by calls or home visits, to make sure all their needs in regard to food, medicine and social contact were met.
  • Playing a key role in setting up one of London’s first community response hubs in partnership with Merton Voluntary Service Council, Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and other key voluntary groups from across the borough. The Merton COVID-19 Community Response Hub was able to mobilise volunteer help for residents in need from day one of the lockdown.
  • A further challenge was the urgently sourcing of Personal Protective Equipment, in a time of national shortage, for around 70 social care workers and to meet the emergency requirements of 10 care homes.
  • Council staff have been working closely with schools to ensure that vulnerable children are being safe-guarded and essential social work home visits continued. During the lockdown staff have also been supporting vulnerable adults via daily phone calls or by contacting them online.
  • Since the onset of the pandemic, the council has worked with partners to successfully secure emergency accommodation for 52 rough sleepers, and help them access support for mental health, drug and alcohol issues if needed.
  • As part of its work to support businesses the council swiftly delivered payments of the Business Support Grants for small and medium businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis. More than 95% of the allocated funding has now been delivered totalling £26.79 million. Merton was one of the top three fastest boroughs in London to get the vital grants distributed. Further support for businesses included offering businesses the opportunity to defer paying rent for three months.
  • The council’s regulatory services worked to ensure compliance to the new regulations which came into force with the closure of non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and other venues.
  • Licensing and Trading Standards Officers have been undertaking checks to ensure that business are trading safely and within the guidelines. They also gave direct advice to businesses during the lockdown and are now dealing with an increasing number of calls from companies seeking advice on how they can re-open safely from June 15
  • The number of complaints and enquiries received by the service during lockdown increased by 25 per cent residents concerned about noise, nuisance and social distancing.
  • Understanding the financial challenge to the authority and working with government to get additional support.

Since May 11 when the Government published its road map for the easing of the lockdown the council has been working on plans to ensure this can be achieved safely. Work is ongoing to support the phased reopening of schools and the opening of non-essential businesses from June 15.

With more people needing to travel safely the council has prepared an emergency transport plan, which has involved extensive engagement with residents and groups across the borough. To help keep public transport for key workers and reduce driving in the borough, the plans aim to help people take more journeys by bike or foot. The plans are focused on supporting safe distancing by providing more space for walking and cycling.  Pavements are to be extended into the road in busy areas such as town centres and cycle lanes are to be created. Funding bids are being made for longer term work to improve walking and cycling routes across the borough.

ENDS

 

 

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton’s active and healthy travel plan in response to Covid-19

15 June, 2020 - 13:37

Merton council’s transport plan to meet the challenges the Coronavirus pandemic has brought, help the borough recover safely and secure long-term environmental and health benefits, has been published.

Merton’s Active & Healthy Travel Response to Covid-19 plan is set to be endorsed by Merton’s Cabinet on this evening.  The plan takes into account the valued input from residents and groups, who have contributed hundreds of ideas and suggestions for projects across the borough.

The emergency plan aims to provide more space for residents to take journeys safely by foot or bike as businesses and schools reopen. It aims to ensure social distancing is maintained on public transport to control the spread of the virus, as more people return to work and everyday activities. As the borough recovers the council wants to avoid a huge rise in car driving which will increase air pollution and lead to gridlock.

Pop-up cycle lanes and pavement widening schemes are being installed across the borough to help residents maintain social distancing and to improve road safety. Pavements are being extended into the road at some of the busiest parts of the borough such as town centres and local shopping parades, to help support local businesses as they begin to reopen today

Longer term proposals to support a major shift of road use towards walking and cycling throughout the borough include strategic cycle routes and low traffic neighbourhoods. Bids are being submitted to the Department for Transport(DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) and the delivery of the long term plans depend upon the success of these.

Work has already been completed for a one-way pedestrian route on Ashcombe Bridge Road, in Wimbledon and for the pavement widening scheme on Wimbledon Bridge.  Works were carried out last week to create a segregated cycle lane on both sides of Haydons Bridge Road in Wimbledon.

Schemes to widen the pavements along Merton High Street, Mitcham Fair Green, Worple Road in Wimbledon and Wimbledon Village are to be actioned this month.

The emergency works scheduled up until the end of July include segregated cycle lanes in London Road in Mitcham,  Merton High Street as well as Bushey Road and Plough Lane, both in Wimbledon.  Work is also to be actioned to create more secured and standard cycle parking by stations throughout July and August to meet the demand.

The Cabinet member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “Our emergency transport response to Covid 19  puts in place measures to encourage people to undertake active travel by walking or cycling instead of using their cars. We are reusing road space as we want to make it safer and easier for residents to take more journeys by foot or bike

“The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed how we live our lives, and it is vital that we continue to maintain social distancing while travelling around as businesses and retail in Merton reopen. It has also enabled us to create a unique opportunity to build upon our work to improve air quality and promote healthy active travel in Merton.”

“We would like to thank all the residents, groups and organisations who contributed feedback on our transport plans. We received over 300 suggestions which helped shape our plans for our emergency works and our funding bids to take account of unprecedented demand for walking and cycling.”

The priorities for the funding bids, which are to be submitted on Friday 19 June, are:

  • Speedily building a strategic cycling network, making the temporary measures permanent and including new routes to reduce crowding on the underground and buses.
  • Changing town centres so local journeys can be safely walked and cycled where possible.
  • Reducing traffic on residential streets and creating low-traffic corridors so more people can walk and cycle as part of their daily routine.

 

The estimated cost of delivering the program for the next 6 months is £490,000. It is proposed that this is funded initially from the council’s existing highway budget, pending further funding from TFL, DFT or Community Infrastructure Levy.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

TFL have launched the London Streetspace plan to radically overhaul London’s streets to accommodate a possible ten-fold increase in cycling and five fold increase in walking as lockdown eases.

London’s public transport capacity is to potentially run at a fifth of pre-Covid-19 levels,

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Support our borough’s businesses and shop local whilst staying safe

11 June, 2020 - 15:00

As lockdown begins to ease it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to everyone’s lives. We have all had to make adjustments to the way we work, live, exercise and shop. Some of these adjustments have seen positive changes, such as shopping more locally and using independent traders.

The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, talks about the re-opening of high streets in Merton, the need to support local businesses,  and staying safe when shopping.

Transcript:

Welcome everybody, and thank you for taking the time to watch this short video.

As I record this for you today, we’re about a week away from the high streets in Merton re-opening their doors.

We’re filming this, at a safe distance, in my local high street, just outside the council offices in Morden.

This is usually a thriving place, the tube station and bus stops behind us, and there are a diverse range of shops and other businesses. Many of these are small independently run enterprises.

I wanted to use this opportunity to remind you about what is being put in place to stay safe when you’re out and about, and what the rules are around ensuring safety in local shops and businesses.

In Merton we have 6,000 businesses of varying sizes, but a great proportion of those are small businesses; family firms; local companies who need our support.

During the last few months, some companies have completely changed the way they operate to help support the community through this difficult time. They’re making essential supplies available to housebound families, who were forced to become dependent on shopping locally. They are also delivering essential supplies to the doorsteps of vulnerable people who were unable to leave their homes.

As restrictions begin to be eased, I hope residents will continue to support the traders who have served them so well in the past. Please do support our businesses and shop locally.

It’s also great to see more local companies starting to open up again. As a business-friendly council. we’ve done what we can to help. We’ve given out more cash grants to businesses than almost any other London borough.

But the challenge is now, how to reopen the local economy during what is a very worrying time.

So I wanted to let you know what to expect.

We’re responsible for making sure the right businesses open a the right time, and for making sure they are putting your safety first.

Every shop that opens its doors needs to have completed a risk assessment of its premises. They need to have put in place measures to keep you and their staff safe. They can then , and only then display a Covid Secure poster in their window.

They need to take reasonable steps to maintain 2m distances, one way systems and have clear information to help you stay safe while you’re in the shop.

This week, we will be writing to every business in the borough, with clear guidance on what is expected of them. We will also be writing to them about how we will be carrying out spot checks and enforcement to ensure people are safe.

If you’re worried that anybody is contravening these rules, you can report them to us on our website: merton.gov.uk/coronavirus

Service businesses like restaurants and pubs which are due to open in early July. They will also have equally stringent measures when they re-open.

Finally, in helping you get around the borough as safely as possible, we’ve started making a range of improvements to roads and pavements.

We’ve installed temporary cycle lanes in many places, as well as widened pavements in high-footfall areas. This is not a one off, we will continue rolling out new improvements to every area of Merton over coming weeks and months.

Please make full use of this space and keep your distance from others – remember the virus is still out there.

If you are concerned about anything, you can look at guidance on our website: merton.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Thank you, and stay safe

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton businesses can now apply to our discretionary grant programme

11 June, 2020 - 15:00

We have launched a new discretionary grants programme in which local small businesses can apply for a one-off payment to help them through the coronavirus crisis.

The funding for the programme comes from the Government’s Local Authority Grant Fund, something which we, together with other London councils, have campaigned hard for. Our share of this fund is estimated to be around £1.3 million.

This will not be enough money to support every small business in the borough so, to manage demand, we’re splitting the scheme into two phases. The first phase is now live and all applications must be received by 24 June. In this phase, the following types of business will be eligible:

  • Charities with properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief, which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief
  • Small businesses and nurseries in shared premises or other flexible workspaces
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
  • Bed and breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive but is intended to guide local authorities as to the types of business that the government considers should be a priority for the scheme. We will determine whether particular situations not listed are broadly similar in nature to those above and, if so, whether they should be eligible for grants from this discretionary fund.

If there are funds left after phase one, we will move onto a second phase in which we will use our discretion to direct funds where we believe it is needed the most. During this phase the following types of business will be eligible:

  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Other small businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs.
  • Businesses that occupy a property with a rateable value below £51,000
  • Priority will be given to businesses and organisations that demonstrate they support closing the equality gap between the east and west of the borough

Eligible local businesses can apply for sums of £25,000, £10,000, or any amount less than £10,000 depending on their fixed costs and the loss of earnings incurred by the lockdown. Therefore, as part of the application process, businesses will need to provide one or more of the following items:

  • Proof of property costs
  • evidence to demonstrate a substantial loss in income as a result of the current situation
  • bank statements
  • profit and loss accounts
  • audited accounts

To apply, or to read more about the details of the fund and the criteria we’ll be using for each phase, visit our Discretionary Grant Fund webpage.

Categories: News from elsewhere

A guide to safer travel in Merton

11 June, 2020 - 13:15

The way we travel has changed. In order to protect ourselves and those around us from Coronavirus, we need to get used to a new way of getting around. Instead of taking the fastest or most convenient journey, we must now consider the safest journey to take, with the least amount of contact with others as possible.

Many people have been enthused by cycling during lockdown and want to continue this in your daily commute

If you can, using sustainable, individual means of transport is the best way to get around safely; cycling or walking your journeys helps to minimise almost all contact in a way that could not be achieved on public transport.

To help our residents get around safely, we are carrying out emergency works across the borough to widen pavements and create temporary cycle lanes to improve road safety, support social distancing and provide more space for walking and cycling. These temporary works will continue until July, and the council are currently bidding for funds to introduce more long term measures. Read more about our transport strategy.

If you must use public transport to make a journey, there are measures you can take to make it safer. Planning your journey in advance and working out alternative routes that are not as busy and mean you spend less time on public transport can help reduced the risk of Coronavirus infection.

Merton is the only London borough to have trains, two Underground lines, trams and buses. This means there are many ways options when picking the safest journey for you. Simply swapping your usual long tube journey for a walk and a tram ride can help to keep contact with others to a minimum.

Another way to protect yourself from contact with others, is by wearing face coverings and gloves when travelling. From Monday the  15 June, Transport for London are introducing new measures, in line with government guidance, whereby  everyone using public transport must wear a mask or face covering, the full guidance is available on the TfL website.

Maintaining good hand hygiene is also important in helping to reduce the spread of the virus. This reduces the chance of coronavirus spreading through touch.  Wearing gloves on public transport , regularly and thoroughly washing hands and carrying hand sanitiser will help reduce the risk.

Please remember:

  • Only use public transport and travel if you MUST – work from home if you can.
  • If you must travel, can you make a swap from public transport to walking or cycling instead.
  • If you must use public transport, can you reduce your use and avoid crowded journeys?
  • From Monday 15 June masks or face coverings MUST be worn  on all TfL public transport.
  • Keep your hands protected and clean; wear gloves, wash them thoroughly and regularly and carry hand sanitiser.
  • Travel around Merton safely: Wash. Mask. Distance.
Categories: News from elsewhere

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