The Council’s number one priority is the health and wellbeing of our residents, the many people who work in the Borough and our own staff. We also want to protect the economic wellbeing of our local businesses.
During the coronavirus outbreak, I want to assure everyone that the Council, in common with colleagues in other public bodies, is doing everything we can to ensure that vital services are maintained, that people have the information they need to stay safe and well, and that vulnerable groups receive the support they require during these very testing times.
As the emergency planning authority, we have, alongside our partners, been rehearsing for just this type of major incident; county-wide and Borough task groups are meeting regularly to put in place our strategy and tackle issues as they arise. We are publishing regularly updated information and advice about Council services in relation to coronavirus and have a range of contingency plans if national circumstances become more challenging in the weeks to come.
This crisis can be particularly difficult for people struggling to meet bills and pay council tax, as well as those who receive benefits or disability grants, and we are working hard to ensure that no-one who receives this kind of support from us suffers unnecessary hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many businesses are having a particularly hard time and we are exploring ways of supporting them, guiding them to the available help with business rates and pointing them to useful advice on staying resilient during these very difficult trading conditions.
Regrettably, and in common with every other similar organisations, we have had to temporarily close popular venues, such as The Point, The Berry Theatre and the Woodlands Café at Itchen Valley Country Park, and curtail our Borough-wide activities that promote health and wellbeing, although, the Country Parks themselves currently remain open for walking and gentle exercise. All these decisions have been made in line with national advice and with the welfare of our staff and the wider public in mind.
Our main offices are now closed but you can still deal with us over the phone or online. We have a well-staffed team who will deal with your call as quickly as possible.
The coronavirus crisis has brought out the best in our community, with many people coming forward with offers to help residents who may be vulnerable or self-isolating. We’ll be publishing details soon of how these efforts are being coordinated across the Borough to ensure that this goodwill and energy is channelled most effectively.
I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Council staff who are going that extra mile, but also to our colleagues in the NHS and emergency services who are working beyond the call of duty to support and protect the people of Eastleigh Borough.
Please keep an eye out for regular updates for residents and businesses on our website and social media channels. And, most importantly, please heed the advice from the NHS around self-isolating and good hand hygiene; these are the most effective weapons we have to protect the health of our wider families, friends and neighbours.