Council tenants in Stoke-on-Trent are being made aware that housing maintenance repairs are moving to emergencies only, as part of a continued managed and proportionate response to the Coronavirus.
The City Council has announced that its housing repairs and maintenance company Unitas is now only carrying out emergency repairs, with no routine repairs until further notice.
The company will continue to work on all planned maintenance sites and not start any new projects on properties throughout the city. Empty properties that need maintenance will continue to be worked on, to ensure the supply of social housing continues. The measures follow reduced demand for repairs and maintenance, and resources will look to be used to support other services to help vulnerable people.
Motorists are advised that Meigh Street Car Park in the city centre has now closed, and the Pavilion Café in Hanley Park has also closed. In addition, Hanley Indoor Market and Tunstall Market have now closed, following consultation with traders. Markets in Stoke and Longton remain open on market days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) for food and essential retail only, and this is being kept under close review.
The council has been advised by the private contractors who run recycling centres in Hanford and Federation Road, Burslem that they have closed the centres with immediate effect in response to Covid-19. Council officers are working with these providers to understand if this will change at any point in the future but for now residents are advised that they are closed.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We continue to work in a managed and proportionate way in response to the biggest health emergency in a generation. Our priority at this time has to be to ensure those vulnerable adults, young people and children in the city that need our help the most get it.
“We are working hard as a council to prioritise these services at this difficult time, and work is taking place to train and redeploy our professional, passionate and caring staff from services that have closed to services that are helping those people who need us the most.
“This is a whole-city response to a national emergency, and communities and partners are coming together to respond. We are working with partners to ensure that all homeless people in the city have the same protection against Covid-19 as everyone else.
“We are actively exploring options to make sure that no one is forced to sleep rough during this crisis and that everyone in supported accommodation is able to self-isolate in line with Government guidance and keep themselves safe. This includes options to significantly increase the number of beds available in the city by working with partners across all sectors including private companies.”
The council’s Rough Sleeper Team, provided by Brighter Futures, has continued to work to accommodate customers since stricter measures were enforced on Monday evening (23 March) and their catering network is also providing free food to hand out in rough sleeping locations and to other accommodation providers in the city. The team is keeping track of customers with underlying health conditions and handing out mobile phones to clients to make sure they are informed about healthcare appointments and to support them with health and welfare at all times.
Anyone concerned about someone sleeping rough should contact the Rough Sleepers Team on 0800 970 2304.
Councillor Brown added: “We now have 25 trading standards staff who are making visits to businesses to ensure they are following national guidance, and are able to respond and advise businesses if they are open and shouldn’t be.
“The #StokeonTrentTogether campaign to support communities has now already received almost 100 phone calls, and nearly 300 people have volunteered. It’s a campaign between the council and voluntary sector organisation VAST, specifically to support those who are self-isolating and who do not have the support of family or friends to call on. Our two football teams Port Vale and Stoke City are also backing the campaign. It’s really heartening to see the response from people across the city wanting to do their bit and make a difference.
“Finally, a lot of people are staying at home but we’re still hearing of some who aren’t. We urge people to do what’s being asked of them. If we all do this collectively then it will mean that we’re able to get back to normal sooner. Please stay home and save lives.”
Residents can access the #StokeonTrentTogether website via www.corona19.vast.org.uk, or call 0800 5615610 Monday – Friday 9am-5pm.
For more information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit Public Health England: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The importance of this action cannot be underestimated.