Author Archive: southashfordcf

Chair of South Ashford Community Forum

Step 2

COVID-19:
Restrictions in England
From 12 April

Meeting OthersOvernight staysEducationWork and business
You must not socialise indoors except with your household or support bubble.
You can meet outdoors, including in gardens, in groups of six people or two households.
Domestic overnight stays are allowed, but you must only stay with members of your household or support bubble.Early years settings, schools and colleges are open for all students.
Students on practical university courses can return. Students and staff will be regularly tested. Other Higher Education students should continue to learn remotely.
You should work from home if you can.
Retail and personal careBars, Pubs and RestaurantsAccommodationLeisure and sporting facilities
All retail open. Hairdressers, beauty and nail salons open.Open outdoors for groups of six people or two households. Those that serve alcohol must provide table service.
Closed indoors.
Campsites and self-contained holiday accommodation open for visits with your household or support bubble only. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs closed.Gyms, indoor sports facilities and spas open for use on your own or with your own household or support bubble.
Saunas and steam rooms closed.
EntertainmentPublic BuildingsResidential CareShielding
Outdoor settings and attractions, such as zoos and theme parks open for visits of two households, or in a group of up to six people.
Drive-in-events open for visits with your household or support bubble.
Indoor entertainment closed.
Libraries and community
centres open
People who live in a care home in England will be allowed two named regular indoor visitors.Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England are no longer
advised to shield, but should continue taking extra precautions such as minimising social interactions and shopping at quieter times of the day.
Domestic travelOverseas travelPlaces of WorshipWeddings and Funerals
You should minimise travel as much as possible. Avoid the busiest times and routes – plan your journey and what you need at your destination ahead of timeYou must not go on holiday abroad. You could be fined £5,000 for travelling abroad without a legally permitted reason.Places of worship open and communal worship is permitted, but you must not mix indoors with anyone outside your household or support bubble.Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events such as wakes can take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).

For more information and detailed guidance visit: gov.uk/coronavirus

Complete the Census

The census tells government, local authorities, the health service and other statutory service providers what our needs are now, and what they’re likely to be in the future. Information you give informs where billions of pounds of funding is spent on things like transport, education and health.

Every household will have received a letter, or will receive one this week, telling them to complete the Census and giving a Household Access Code.

If you cannot complete it online you should request a paper copy by calling 0800 141 2021 (automated service) or asking somebody to request one for you at census.gov.uk.

You can complete it as soon as you get the letter (or paper form) but the information needs to be accurate for Sunday 21st March. You can start filling in details and save your answers to complete the rest of the questions later.

You should complete it on 21 March or as soon after as later.

The form asks questions about your household and about individuals within it. If you want to complete your individual information separately from others within your household you can request an individual access code.

Contact from the ONS.

Neither the ONS support team or their contractors will call or visit you on or before 21 March to collect information.

If you do not complete the census they may contact you to encourage you to submit your form.

The ONS census team will carry out the Census Coverage Survey after the census date to sample the accuracy of the census data. The survey is not to test that individual households have given true information. You will receive a card beforehand and the interviewers will provide identification if they call. You are not obliged to participate in the survey.

Data security and privacy

The census in England and Wales is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS and the statistics they generate are independent from government.

Government departments dealing with any applications you’ve made, or any payments or services you receive, cannot see your census information. For example, it cannot be used to influence benefit claims, a residency application, immigration status or taxes. Landlords, or any private organisation, will not be able to see your personal information either.

Census records will be kept secure for 100 years. Only then can future generations view them, for example, those interested in family history.

Stagecoach back to school service changes

Full service levels restored from Monday 8 March

Stagecoach logo

Stagecoach bus services in Kent and East Sussex will step up to 100% from Monday 8 March. Full pre-COVID school day timetables will be restored on most routes. Stagecoach are pleased to finally be able to return to normal service and welcome the support from   Kent County Council that has enabled this to happen.

Dedicated school services in Ashford

As when schools were last fully open, many school day bus journeys will be running as ‘dedicated schools services’. This means they will only be available for young people to board if travelling to and from their place of education. The general public will not be able to use them, and, in-line with government instructions, these buses will be able to carry more passengers. Unlike normal service buses which have a limited seating capacity, these dedicated schools services will allow the near maximum seated capacity of the bus.

All dedicated schools services will have a special destination display that shows ‘School Service’ at the front of the bus, alternating with the route number and destination. As these ‘dedicated schools services’ are for students only, morning journeys will only stop to pick-up students and drop them at school/college. On the way home in the afternoon the ‘dedicated schools service’ will collect students from school/college and then operate as drop-off only at all other stops.

If you travel to and from school, please check out our schools information web page for the latest news:

Kent schools information

Also from 8 March, Kent County Council have confirmed that concessionary travel passes will no longer be accepted for travel before 09:30am.

Despite this increase in service levels, it’s vital that if you need to make a bus journey, you follow the government rules. Face coverings must be worn (unless you are medically exempt) and windows on most bus types should be left in the open position to allow the flow of fresh air. Capacity is limited to help with social distancing and you should be mindful to keep a safe distance from others (unless travelling with someone from your household bubble).

Want to know how to travel safely by bus? Stagecoach have taken a range of measures to help protect you when travelling. Their buses are clean, safe and ready to go. If you’re planning on travelling and are concerned about what to do, check out this guide. We’ve also put together a ten-point guide to help understand the measures that are in place. Find out more here.  

Council Tax refund scam

Ashford borough Council have notified us of a phone scam around council tax which is currently in circulation.

This particular scam involves calls from a company called Greystone Recovery. The caller claims to have information relating to incorrect council tax banding and saying that the recipient is entitled to refunds.

These calls are not coming from the council, and are unrelated to genuine text messages that get sent out from the council about council tax arrears.

If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of a call, whether they claim to be calling from the council, or another organisation, it is important to hang up and not give any information to the caller.

If you have a query about your council tax band you can visit the Ashford Borough Council website at www.ashford.gov.uk/council-tax/valuation-and-band-charges/ to find out more.

You can find out how to identify and avoid this kind of scam at
www.gov.uk/guidance/council-tax-and-business-rates-scams.

If you think your house may be in the wrong Council Tax Band read Martin Lewis’s advice on Money Saving Expert on how to check and and request re-assessment. Do read the whole of the article as, although there is no charge for re-assessment, it includes warnings about what could happen if the current banding is correct or too low.

There are a number of legitimate companies named Greystone or Grey Stone. We are not aware of any which provide Council Tax recovery services.

Covid-19 vaccine update

Over 70s and shielded patients encouraged to book now

Anyone aged 70 and over or on the Shielded Patients List (because they are clinically extremely vulnerable) who has not yet had a first dose vaccine can use the National Booking System to book an appointment. You do not need a letter from the NHS.

Members of the public not in these groups still need to wait for a letter.

You can book for yourself or on behalf of a relative. The person being vaccinated will need to be registered with a GP. You’ll need the name, date of birth and home postcode of the person being vaccinated. The person’s NHS number is helpful but not essential.

You can use the national booking service to arrange an appointment at one of three large vaccination centres or seven community pharmacy-led services in the county.

The nearest vaccination centre is in Folkestone

Pharmacy services are running in:

  • New Romney Pharmacy, vaccinations at New Romney Old School
  • Pharmacy2U, Maidstone, vaccinations at Odeon Cinema, Lockmeadow.

There is no restriction on where you live, you can book at any of these sites if slots are available.

To book visit www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

If you can’t book online, you can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days-a-week. British Sign Language, text relay and interpreter services are available.

GP-run vaccine services and housebound visits

The national booking service cannot make appointments for GP services or home visits.

GPs and their teams continue to invite people to local vaccination services and are prioritising going out to housebound patients who haven’t already been vaccinated.

If people over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable, who have not yet had a first dose Covid-19 vaccine, want to use GP services they should now contact their GP practice. 

Members of the public not in these groups still need to wait to be contacted. Please do not call your GP practice at this stage.

NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group
mailchi.mp/ca30565e5ed8/community-bulletin

Covid-19 Vaccinations

Covid-19 vaccine information

Who is being vaccinated?

NHS England and NHS Kent and Medway CCG are currently vaccinating people in the first four priority groups, i.e.:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers 
  • All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers 
  • All those 75 years of age and over 
  • All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals 

Kent and Medway CCG expect all people in these groups to have been invited to be vaccinated by 15th February 2020.

The full Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) list of priory groups is is on gov.uk

How do I make an appointment for my vaccination?

Do not contact NHS or your GP to ask for a vaccination, they should contact you. If you are over 70 years of age and have not been invited by 15th February contact your GP then (please remember that your GP surgery is very busy use the contact methods given on their website).

Where are vaccinations being given?

In Ashford urban area vaccinations are currently being given at:

  • St, Stephens Medical Centre
    for patients of the Ashford Medical Partnership: Willesborough Health Centre, Singleton Health Centre and St Stephens Health Centre
  • Musgrove Park Medical Centre, Ashford
    foe patients of Ashford Stour PCN: Hollington Surgery, Kingsnorth Medical Practice, New Hayesbank Surgery, Sellindge Surgery, Sydenham House Medical Centre and Wye Surgery
    and
  • The Wiliam Harvey Hospital

Other centres are listed on the KMCCG website

Only visit a vaccination centre if you have an appointment.
there is no walk-in service at any centre.

If you are undergoing treatment at another hospital you may be invited to be vaccinated at that hospital. If this involves a substantial journey you can ask to be vaccinated at a local centre.

How will I get the vaccine if I am housebound?

If you are known to be housebound through illness or disability you will be contacted to arrange your vaccination at home, either through your GP or Kent Community Health Foundation NHS Trust (KCHFT).

At the vaccination centre

  • Ensure you are wearing a clean face mask.
  • Do not arrive before the time given on your appointment.
  • Please attend alone unless you are unable to.
  • Follow instructions given on your invitation or at the centre regarding announcing your arrival.
  • You may have to wait – please maintain social distancing from other patients.
  • Before being vaccinated you should be asked some questions about your medical history or to allow the vaccinator to access your medical records.
  • After vaccination you will be given a card with information about your vaccination. It is important to keep this card.
  • You should be given an appointment for your second vaccination within 12 weeks of your first.
  • You should wait at the vaccination centre, as instructed, for 15 minutes after your vaccination.

After vaccination

You must continue to follow current regulations and advice related to Covid-19, i.e.:

  • Hands: wash your hands regularly
  • Face: wear a face covering inside shops and other buildings to which the public have access
  • Space: maintain 2m distance from people not in your household
  • During lockdown:

Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.

If your symptoms get worse or you are worried,

  • call 111.
  • inform your GP
  • inform the centre where you were vaccinated, or
  • submit a report to the MHRA

If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.

Front line workers

All front line health and social care workers should be invited for a vaccination by their employer.

Agency workers on a long term deployment should be vaccinated through the organisation they are working for.

Agency workers on short term deployments should be have their vaccination arranged by their agency.

If you are working directly on the front line in health or social care and have not be invited for vaccination, contact the organisation through which you are working first or KMCCG.

KMCCG are consulting with the government regarding including other key workers in a priority group.

More information

There is more information about Covid-19 vaccination on the KMCCG website: www.kentandmedwayccg.nhs.uk/your-health/coronavirus/covid19vaccine

including these answers to Frequently Asked Questions:
www.kentandmedwayccg.nhs.uk/your-health/coronavirus/covid19vaccine/covid-19-vaccination-programme-frequently-asked-questions

and on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

Scam Alert

The Covid-19 Vaccine will always be available free of charge

The NHS will not ask for bank or financial details to confirm your identity

Bus service changes from Sunday

Stagecoach logo

Stagecoach bus services in Kent and East Sussex will change from the Sunday 17 January. New timetables that preserve essential journeys have been agreed with Kent County Council. Full details of services in Ashford are available below, including links to timetables.

Stagecoach has worked very closely with the County Councils and  key sector organisations to ensure essential journey opportunities are available for food shopping, medical appointments, support bubbles, carers, key workers and children still attending school. These lockdown bus services will also help support the COVID vaccination programme by providing access to some vaccination centres on the bus network. Stagecoach welcomes the government and local council support that means these essential bus services are able to operate.

It’s vital that if you need to make a bus journey, you follow the government rules. Face coverings must be worn (unless you are medically exempt) and windows on buses should be left in the open position to allow the flow of fresh air. Capacity is limited to help with social distancing and you should be mindful to keep a safe distance from others (unless travelling with someone from your household bubble). 

Want to know how to travel safely by bus? Stagecoach have taken a range of measures to help protect you when travelling. Buses are clean, safe and ready to go. If you’re planning on travelling and are concerned about what to do, check out this guide. They’ve also put together a ten-point guide to help understand the measures that are in place. Find out more here.  

On Mondays to Saturdays the following timetables will apply from Monday 18 January
  • Route 1/1A    – Special timetable. About every 2 hours between Ashford and Canterbury via Little Burton, Wye, Chilham & Chartham. Additional hourly journeys between Chartham and Canterbury. Additional morning journey on schooldays from Chartham to Spires Academy via Canterbury Bus Station. 
  • Route 2  – About every 2 hours between Ashford and Rolvenden via Tenterden and High Halden. Separate route 2 about every 2 hours between Hastings and Tenterden via Northiam. No through journeys. 
  • Route 2A    – Special timetable running about every 2 hours.
  • Route 10  – Non school timetable similar to what we are currently operating. 
  • Route 10X – Special timetable about every 2 hours. 
  • Route 11/11A/11B    – Normal Mon-Fri (non school) timetable spanning across Monday to Saturday.
  • Route 111    – Normal Thursday timetable continuing. 
  • Route 123    – Normal Monday to Friday non school timetable.
  • Route 666    – Normal Mon-Fri (non school) timetable spanning across Monday to Saturday. 
  • Route A    – Special timetable running up to every 15 minutes.
  • Route B    – Special timetable running up to every 15 minutes.
  • Route C   – Special timetable running up to every 15 minutes.
  • Route D    – Special timetable running up to every 15 minutes.
  • Route A   – Special timetable running.
  • Route G  – Special timetable running hourly.
  • Route S – remains suspended.

Normal Sunday timetables will operate, unless stated otherwise.

Stagecoach UK Bus
https://www.stagecoachbus.com/promos-and-offers/south-east/government-coronavirus-measures–changes-to-bus-services

Flood Alert

Upper River Stour

Flood alerts are also active for other areas of the Borough

Flooding is possible – be prepared

River levels are forecast to rise as a result of heavy rainfall overnight tonight. Flooding of roads and low lying land is expected from early tomorrow morning, Thursday 14th January 2021. We believe there is a possibility of flooding of low lying land and roads along the East Stour, Great Stour and tributaries around Ashford. Flooding of properties is not expected at this point. Prolonged rainfall is forecast over the next 24 hours. We are closely monitoring the situation and our incident response staff are prepared to respond if required. Please avoid using low lying footpaths near local watercourses and plan driving routes to avoid low lying roads near rivers which may be flooded. This message will be updated by 10am tomorrow morning, Thursday 14th January 2021, or as the situation changes.

This information was last updated at 7:06pm Wednesday 13 January 2021

Flood alert – Prepare

  • prepare a bag that includes medicines and insurance documents
  • check flood warnings

Monitor the river level feed from Gaugemap.co.uk on our River Levels page

What to do before, after and during a flood:

Environment Agency:
https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/target-area/064WAF6UpStour

Covid vaccine scam

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, has received a number of reports in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:
“The vaccine is a crucial tool in fighting the coronavirus and keeping people safe. Thankfully, the number of reports into Action Fraud are relatively low but we have seen an increase in the last two months, particularly around scam text messages. 

If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, this is a scam.”

Action Fraud has received reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for the vaccine. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases the online form has looked very similar to the real NHS website.

How to protect yourself:

In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.  

Booking a Coronavirus vaccination

If you have received a letter inviting you to book a coronavirus vaccination, book it directly from the NHS website:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/

Do not use links in emails or texts.

Do not try to book a vaccination if you have not received a letter.

Covid-19 scams

Watch out for other Covid-19 related scams. Visit our Covid-19 scam post

Report Fraud

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

East Stour Park appeal delayed.

Riverside view of proposed development

Update, 05/01/2021: We have received notification that the appeal hearing due to commence on 13th January has been ‘cancelled’. We await notification of a new date for the hearing.

Update, 10/12/2020: We have today receive a letter from Ashford Borough Council confirming the hearing date as 13th January for up to 3 days. The letter is reproduced below. You must register to participate in the ‘informal virtual hearing’

09/12/2020: The hearing of the appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s decision to refuse the planning application for the proposed ‘East Stour Park’ development has been delayed.

The hearing was due to take place yesterday (8th December 2020) with provision for a second day today. Although no change to the timetable had been published a new date of 13th January 2021 had been shown on the ABC planning portal but this has been removed.

Today a statement by the Planning Inspector was uploaded to the portal that the Secretary of State had considered whether an Environmental Impact Assessment was required for the site. The Secretary of State had confirmed that an EIA was not required, agreeing with ABC’s screening decision.

Ashford Borough Council letter:

With reference to the above appeal, the Planning Inspectorate has now confirmed that the appeal is being dealt with by way of an informal virtual hearing which will start at 10.00am on 13 January 2021 and it is anticipated as sitting for 3 days but the duration is not fixed and will depend on how the evidence emerges.

An Inspector has been appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions under paragraph 1(i) of Schedule 6 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to determine this appeal.As I indicated in my earlier letter, I have forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate and to the Appellants all comments that I have received from you or other people relating to the application for planning permission which has led to this appeal.

If you wish to see the Council’s reasons for refusal of the application and the appellant’s grounds of appeal, proofs of evidence, summaries and statement of common ground, these may be inspected online at: https://planning.ashford.gov.uk/Planning/details.aspx?systemkey=112528 Should you wish for any further information, please contact the ABC Case Officer named in the application details.

Anyone wishing to attend the hearing must make that interest known to the Planning Inspectorate Case Officer as soon as possible prior to the hearing either by email or telephone message after reading the Hearing Attendance Information set out below, which you should include with your hearing notification letters; please also include the Case Officer’s name and contact details as per the site notice published on the councils website.

Hearing Attendance Information

Before deciding whether to take an active part in the Hearing, you need to think carefully about the points you wish to make. All written submissions from application and appeal stage will be taken into account by the Inspector and re-stating the same points won’t add any additional weight to them.

If you feel that taking part in the Hearing is right for you in whatever capacity, you can participate in a number of ways:

  • To take part using video, participants will need to have access to Microsoft Teams (via an app or web browser). This link gives further information on how to use this: https://support.office.com/en-us/teams.
  • Alternatively you can take part by telephone. NB Calls would be to an 020 number which will incur charges. https://www.gov.uk/call-charges

If you wish to just observe the event, you should make that clear in your response to the Case Officer. If you wish to take an active part in the discussions, please make clear in your response to the Case Officer if possible, which topic areas you are particularly interested in.

If you want to take an active part but feel unable to for any reason, and/or the points you want to make are not covered in the evidence of others, consider whether someone else could raise them on your behalf.

Registered participants in whatever capacity will receive individual joining instructions, providing details of any requirements, guidance and support whether joining by Teams or telephone.