With the pandemic affecting so many aspects of day-to-day life, there is at least the occasional silver lining. We’ve been approached by BBC Birmingham with a proposal that may be of interest to listeners of The Archers on Radio 4.
Fans of The Archers will know that the current storylines are recorded up until May, with the BBC now preparing to record new episodes which will include the effects of the pandemic. Unfortunately, they are unable to make recordings in the studio due to social distancing restrictions.
The BBC is proposing to make all the recordings in the open (it is, they point out, set in a rural and farming community after all) at various village locations. They have chosen Bourton as one such location. As a consequence, residents will see a number of outside broadcast vehicles in the village later in the month, but the BBC have assured us that disruption will be kept to a minimum. They have asked us not to get too close to the staff and actors and certainly not approach any of them seeking autographs.
Furthermore, the BBC is looking for extras for certain scenes (apparently one story line involves a riot of panic buyers at the organic farm shop). If you are interested in appearing in The Archers you should contact BBC Birmingham on 0121 567 6000.
Update for town and parish councils
The following message from the District Council is aimed at town and parish councils but there are useful links and updates you may find helpful:
Firstly, thank you for everything you are doing on the ground to help respond to this Coronavirus pandemic. The best way we can protect and support our residents, particularly those who need help the most, is by proactively coordinating our efforts.
Here’s what has happened since our last update:
Our dedicated support service
Working closely with the huge number of amazing local volunteer groups working in our communities, we have launched our very own telephone-based support service to help vulnerable and isolated residents who need help with shopping, collecting medical supplies, and other day to day tasks. This service is there for anyone who doesn’t have friends or family around to help and is for anybody who hasn’t been identified by the NHS as high-risk. To contact our service call 01235 422600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have already contacted us, please don’t worry about contacting us again – we have your details.
We will offer them any support or guidance they need, even if that’s just a friendly voice, and where they need specific help, we’ll match them up with local volunteer groups near them who can help (more on this later).
Our support service is there to compliment the county council’s support line service for vulnerable high-risk residents who have been advised to stay at home for 12 weeks. Anybody in this situation who has nobody around to help should call 01865 897 820 or email email@example.com for support.
The two services sit side by side and have the same opening hours to help us share information about people in need.
Operating hours – phone lines are open:
- 8.30am to 8pm Monday to Friday
- 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday
Match making service
We have set up a dedicated team of people to link requests for help with the community groups on the ground who can deliver it. This service relies on us having the latest information on community groups operating in the districts.
We urgently need to know about the groups leading and coordinating community action in your communities – so please email their details to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be matching these groups up with people calling us for support.
There’s been some mixed messages about whether community groups can provide help to residents if they’re approached directly for support and the answer’s absolutely but, please follow the government guidance for volunteers.
Our support services are there for everyone not in the NHS high-risk category, but especially those with no support network around them so any help community groups can give to reduce the pressure on these services would be very welcome.
Like most of our staff, our planning officers are working remotely from home. This has meant having to adapt some previously well-established processes in order to continue providing planning services to our residents. The knock-on effect of this has been some delays in registering and validating planning applications, which you may have noticed in your weekly lists.
In light of the national social distancing measures we are currently not carrying out any site sites and we’ve cancelled our planning committee meetings for the time being.
As a key stakeholder in our planning process we realise the current situation will also be impacting on your ability to carry out site visits and hold your own planning committee meetings. It would be enormously helpful if you could let us know what measures you have put in place to continue to view and comment on planning applications over the coming months, along with any other procedures you hope to use, or if you feel we should be asking the government to pause the planning process at this time – perhaps in line with the twelve week timescale for self-isolating high-risk residents. This information will help us consider if we should seek to establish a new way of determining applications or take a different approach.
Please could you send this information and any other planning queries to:
So far, our waste crews are managing extremely well to keep collections running as smoothly as possible. There has however been the odd disruption with some garden waste collections not happening on the usual day.
If any collection is missed it will mostly likely be as a result of us diverting resources to priority services. The advice we’re giving to residents if collections are missed is as follows:
if the bins on your street are not emptied, please leave them out for up to three days (including weekends) and we’ll try to catch up. If they are still not emptied, please bring them back in and we will empty them on the next planned collection day.
We have had to suspend our kerbside small electricals and textiles recycling service as the centres that would normally accept these items are currently unable to process them.
We’re asking residents to keep these items until the service has resumed and making it very clear that they must NOT go in the general rubbish or recycling bins because of the fire risk to waste collection trucks.
We are also reminding people that gatherings like community litter picks should no longer be taking place until the government guidelines allow, and until our crews can cope with the extra waste collection.
Support for shops and businesses that have had to close
We’ve updated our dedicated website for businesses, South and Vale Business Support with the latest advice and support that is available for any business concerned about the impact of COVID-10 on its organisation.
We have also launched an online form for local businesses so they can apply for the government’s small business and retail grants. This will make it much easier for them to access financial help from the government.
Car parking charges suspended
We have suspended all parking charges in our council run car parks across South and Vale until 1 June.
This is to support key workers and those who are shopping for essential food or medical supplies during the Coronavirus pandemic.
We hope you’ve found this update helpful, which we plan to send every week. Whilst we are very happy for you to share this information with your community groups please bear in mind that the situation is changing very rapidly and therefore information can go out of date very quickly. Our websites are the best sources for the latest information on our services:
For national advice and information on Covid-19, please visit Public Health England.
The village defibrillator – located on the front wall of the village hall – is back in service after the replacement of some critical parts.
Update from VoWH DC district Council
Updated Thursday 26 March 12.20pm
The waste team’s well-tested service disruption plan is now in place.
Our waste contractor, Biffa, has suffered some staff shortages due to illness and self-isolation but is managing this by redeploying staff and using agency drivers.
However, with new crew members unfamiliar with the routes and in some cases fewer staff, it’s likely that on occasions, crews might not be able to complete all of their daily rounds and so some bins might not be emptied on their usual collection day. We empty 200,000 bins every week and so even a moderate level of disruption to our usual staffing can cause delays.
We will prioritise food, rubbish and clinical waste collections and some elements of street cleansing, including emptying litter bins.
We may have to suspend garden waste services so we can focus on essential waste collections, as other councils have, if this is the case, we will let everyone know through our social media sites and council websites.
The following message was issued by the District Council.
For more advice and information on Covid-19, please visit Public Health England.
We have added a specific Coronavirus information page on the main menu of the website that will show any information and links that may be helpful at this time. Please drop me a line (email@example.com) to share any further info you might have or if there’s something you would like to see added.
Fiona has kindly summarised below the current opening times and arrangements for the local supermarkets, as at 23 March:
No special provision for elderly/vulnerable/carers/NHS staff
Reserved time for NHS staff Sun 9am-10am
Sainsbury’s Stratton St Margaret
Reserved time for elderly/disabled/carers Mon/Wed/Fri 8am-9am
Reserved time for NHS staff/social care workers Mon-Sat 7.30-8 NHS/social care workers
Call 0800 328 1700 to register for priority delivery/Click & Collect slots if 70+/vulnerable/disabled
Reserved time for elderly/vulnerable 7am-8am
This is a copy of the message on the Church’s Facebook page. You can find the page at @shrivenhamandashbury
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer our normal programme of Sunday and mid-week services at the moment due to guidance regarding Coronavirus, but the churches will be open, and you are welcome to use them, and the wonderful primrose filled churchyards, for private prayer. We are hoping to have a notebook in each church for you to write your prayers or requests, and our clergy will pray for them when they come in to worship.
We are also investigating ways to stream times of prayer; we’ll let you know what we’re planning as soon as we know.
Please do share this page and encourage any other parishoners you know to follow us and keep up to date, and look after one another.
In case we were in any doubt, the Government’s announcements yesterday have made it clear that we have a challenging few months ahead.
A few of us have been talking about how we can help each other out through this difficult time. It is likely that many of us will have spells of being stuck indoors, and for some of us at particular risk from the virus, this will be an extended period.
What we would like to do is enlist as many ‘volunteers’ as possible within the village who are able and willing (Coronavirus illness and isolation notwithstanding!) to help others out. This could be anything from picking up a pint of milk or some other groceries or medication, to simply waving through the window, or some morale-boosting email messages and chat.
To get this up and running, we initially need to draw up a list of volunteers who are happy to be included in the list and are willing for their names, addresses, phone numbers and emails to be distributed around the village in the form of a letter and by email. There is obviously no compulsion to volunteer or share this information if you feel that you prefer to maintain your privacy. We trust that all villagers in possession of these contact details will respect the purpose for which they are intended.
Some of you have already very kindly indicated that you would like to volunteer and we’re sure there are many more who will be willing. For the purposes of gathering all the information, we’d be really grateful if you could reply to Fiona.firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information, which you are willing to share and be used for contact for this purpose:
NameAddress, Phone numbers(s) and Email address
Once the group is established, we can refine and develop it according to need and events.
We will also start a WhatsApp group for as many residents as possible, not just the volunteers, so please let us know if you would rather NOT be added to this when supplying your mobile number for volunteering. If you are not able to volunteer but would like to be added to this group, please send us your mobile number (or text 07971 246870)
We would be really grateful if you could spread the word about this to friends and neighbours in the village, particularly those not on this circulation list.
Sorry for the short timescale, but as the ’shielding’ period for the more vulnerable starts at the weekend, we will compile the initial list on Thursday based on the details received by 10pm Wednesday evening. We can add more names later though.
Very best wishes,
Amanda Benbow, Rhona Edwards, Amanda Johnson, Claire King, Serena Lloyd, Frances Mayes, Lydia Russell, Fiona Ryan
And Bourton Parish Council