The UK Government has allocated Tier 3 Alert level to the whole of Kent and Medway, despite Ashford having only 126 cases per 100,000 population at 26 November 2020, compared with the national average of 201 cases per 100,000 1.
The following is a summary of restrictions that will apply to Kent and Medway from 2nd December:
Meeting Friends and Family
No mixing of households indoors, or most outdoor places, apart from support bubbles.
Maximum of six in some outdoor public spaces (e.g. parks, sports courts, public gardens).
Bars, pubs and restaurants
Hospitality is closed, with the exception of sales by takeaway, drive-through or delivery.
Indoor venues closed
Avoid travelling out of the area, other than where necessary such as for work, education, youth services, medical attention or because of caring responsibilities.
Reduce the number of journeys made where possible.
No overnight stays outside of local area, unless necessary for work, education or similar reasons.
Closed (with limited exceptions such as work purposes or where people cannot return home)
Work and business
Everyone who can work from home should do so.
Early years settings, schools, colleges & universities open.
Registered childcare, other supervised activities for children and childcare bubbles permitted.
Places of worship
Open, but cannot interact with anyone outside household or support bubble.
Weddings and funerals
15 guests for weddings, civil partnerships and wakes; 30 for funerals.
Wedding receptions not permitted.
Classes and organised adult sport can take place outdoors, but people should avoid higher-risk contact activity.
Group exercise activities and sports indoors should not take place, unless with household or bubble.
Organised activities for elite athletes, under-18s and disabled people can continue.
Indoor leisure e.g gyms and swimming
Large Events – Elite Sport, Live Performances & Business
Events should not take place; Drive-in events permitted.
Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when shopping online, ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers search for bargains and gifts for loved ones in the run up to Christmas.
Action Fraud launched its #FraudFreeXmas campaign with a stark warning about ‘too good to be true’ Black Friday deals. Figures reveal reports of online shopping fraud have surged by 30% over the pandemic as many of us continue to shop online in light of current restrictions.
Figures from Action Fraud show that criminals conned 17,405 shoppers out of almost £13.5 million over the Christmas period last year, an increase of over 20% when compared to the same period in 2018.
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:
“Christmas is an incredibly busy time for us all. Many shoppers get caught up in the excitement of Black Friday, so it can be easy to rush into making a quick purchase online to secure a bargain.
“Unfortunately, criminals will see this as an ideal opportunity to take advantage of shoppers and will tempt them with the promise of cheap deals.
“We advise that you’re cautious of where and who you’re buying from. Our figures show that most scams last year involved mobile phones and electronics, so always shop with official retailers and don’t be enticed by deals that seem too good to be true. Where possible, use a credit card when shopping online as this will offer you more protection if anything goes wrong.
“Follow our simple advice to enjoy shopping online safely and ensure you’re not left empty handed this Christmas.”
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale events last year (25th November 2019 – 8th December 2019), over £3 million was lost to criminals as shoppers reported buying mobile phones (15%), vehicles (9%) and electronics (8%), on sites such as Facebook, eBay and Gumtree, only to have the items never arrive.
Over half of victims were male (55%) aged 20 to 29 (19%) residing in cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds and Bristol.
This year, Action Fraud will highlight a different type of fraud, and provide important protect advice, every week during December to prevent people from getting conned out of the Christmas they deserve, starting with online shopping and auction fraud ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
To protect yourself from falling victim to online shopping or auction fraud, remember the following:
Choosing where you shop: If you’re making a purchase from a website or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first. Look online for reviews of the website or person you’re buying from. If you’re purchasing an item from an online marketplace, you can view the seller’s feedback history before going ahead with the purchase.
Payment method: Use a payment method that offers buyer protection, such as a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers will help you get your money back if the item is faulty or damaged, or if it never arrives.
Staying secure online: Use a strong, separate password for your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping. You should also enable two-factor authentication (2FA), where possible, which gives your online account additional protection by double checking that you really are the person you claim to be, when logging in. For further information about how to stay secure online, visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk.
Watch out for phishing emails or texts: Some of the emails or texts you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. If you’re unsure, don’t use the link and visit the website directly instead. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, you can report it by forwarding the email to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at email@example.com. You can report suspicious texts you have received by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
When things go wrong: Anyone can fall victim to fraud. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
The urgent treatment centre at the William Harvey Hospital is now open.
Urgent treatment centres provide treatment for minor injuries and illnesses that are urgent but not life threatening.
Urgent treatment centres are GP-led, open at least 12 hours a day (24 hours at the main hospital sites), and are equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments people attend A&E for.
Call NHS 111 or visit www.111.nhs.uk to find out which service is best for you.
NHS 111 can signpost you to the nearest service and, where appropriate, can book you an appointment at the Urgent Treatment Centre.
The Urgent Treatment Centre can treat:
sprains and strains
suspected broken limbs
minor head injuries
cuts and grazes
bites and stings
minor scalds and burns
ear and throat infections
skin infections and rashes
coughs and colds
feverish illness in adults
feverish illness in children
vomiting and diarrhoea
Urgent Treatment Centres need to comply with government guidelines on social distancing and provide safe environments for both patients and staff.
NHS are encouraging people to call NHS 111 to book an appointment ahead of visiting. This means you won’t have to wait at a centre for an appointment and it will help ensure the safety of everyone.
You cannot meet anybody socially Indoors unless they are in your household or support bubble
You can meet with 1 person from another household in outdoor public spaces, following social distancing. Children under 5 and anyone dependent on continuous care do not count towards the 2 person limit.
Weddings and Civil partnership ceremonies can only take place where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover. Funerals can take place with up to 30 people in attendance.
Working from home
You must work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home you should continue to go to work (unless you are clinically extremely vulnerable).
Open. Essential shops should follow COVID secure guidelines.
Closed. Can only open for click-and-collect and delivery services.
Leisure and Gyms
You can exercise outside on your own or with your household; your support bubble or one person from another househoid.
Closed. Except for allotments and outdoor playgrounds.
Closed except for takeaway, click-and-collect, drive through and delivery sevvices. Takeaway not permitted after 22:00.
Early years, schools and FE colleges open. Universities must reflect wider restrictions.
You can leave home for any medical reason.
Care homes are encouraged to provide safe, COVID-secure visiting opportunities. See the guidance for detaiis on how to keep visits safe.
You must not travel in the UK or overseas other than for permitted reasons, including work, eduration, medical reasons, caring responsibilities or for essential retail.
You may still use public transport, but should only travel for permitted reasons and should look to reduce the number of journeys you make, avoid travelling at peak times and walk or cycle where you can.
Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences are not allowed, except for work and other exempt purposes.
Entertainment and tourism
Entertainment venues are closed. Public gardens at visitor attractions are open.
If you are 60+ or clinically vulnerable be especially carefui to follow the rules and minimise contacts with others. If you are ciinicaliy extremely vulnerable you are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend essenliai health appoinlments.
Closed. Except for: funerals. broadcasting acts of worship, and individual prayer.
Youth Clubs and Activities
Registered childcare and childcare activities open to enable parents to work, or for respite care. Parents can form a childcare bubble with another household For informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.
Some youth services are able to continue, such as 1-1 youth work and support groups, but most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period.
Scammers usually contact people out of the blue via phone, email or text, or even advertise online. Or they may be introduced to you by a friend or family member who is also unknowingly being scammed.
Scammers will make false claims to gain your trust. For example:
claiming they are authorised by the FCA or that they don’t have to be FCA authorised because they aren’t providing the advice themselves
claiming to be acting on the behalf of the FCA or the government service Pension Wise.
Scammers design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them (or to release funds from it). It is then often invested in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units, or simply stolen outright.
Be wary if you’re contacted about any financial product or opportunity and they mention using your pension.
If you get unsolicited offers via email or text you should simply ignore them. Fortunately, most people do reject unsolicited offers – FCA research suggests that 95% of unexpected pension offers are rejected.
Be wary of offers of free pension reviews. Professional advice on pensions is not free – a free offer out of the blue (from a company you have not dealt with before) is probably a scam.
And don’t be talked into something by someone you know. They could be getting scammed, so check everything yourself.
Step 2 – check who you’re dealing with
Check the FCA Register to make sure that anyone offering you advice or other financial services is FCA authorised.
Check they are not a clone – a common scam is to pretend to be a genuine FCA-authorised firm (called a ‘clone firm’). Always use the contact details on our Register, not the details the firm gives you.
Check to see if they are registered with Companies House and for the names of the directors. Search the company name and the names of the directors online to see if others have posted any concerns.
Check the FCA Warning List – use this tool to check the risks of a potential pension or investment opportunity. You can also search to see if the firm is known to be operating without our authorisation.
Step 3 – don’t be rushed or pressured
Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’. Be wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true and don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.
If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution pension, Pension Wise offers pre-booked appointments to talk through your retirement options.
You can also use a financial adviser to help you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances. If you do opt for an adviser, make sure they are regulated by the FCA and never take investment advice from the company that contacted you, as this may be part of the scam. Find out more about getting financial advice
If you suspect a scam, report it
If you have been a victim of this type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling us on 0300 123 2040 or by using ouronline reporting tool.
Report to the FCA – you can report an unauthorised firm or scam to the FCA by contacting their Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 or using our reporting form.
You can report nuisance calls and messages to the Information Commissioner’s Office using their online reporting tool or by calling 0303 123 1113.
If you’ve agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn’t taken place yet. If you are unsure of what to do contact the Pensions Advisory Service) for help.
If you have already invested in a scam, fraudsters are likely to target you again or sell your details to other criminals. The follow-up scam may be completely separate or related to the previous fraud, such as an offer to get your money back or to buy back the investment after you pay a fee.
An appeal against a refusal by Ashford Borough Council (ABC) to issue a Lawful Development Certificate for the existing use of a house in Bond Road as a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) has been dismissed.
The Planning Inspector has agreed with ABC that the applicant has failed to provide sufficient evidence that the house in question has been used as a large HMO continuously for ten years.
The request for a Lawful Development Certificate followed an earlier application for planning permission for change of use of the property to a Large HMO. That application was refused because “The proposed change of use, due to insufficient onsite parking, would result in an unacceptable impact in on-street parking to the detriment of existing nearby residents and the surrounding road network. Further, any vehicles attempting to park at the front would result in vehicles overhanging the footpath to the detriment of pedestrian safety.” contrary to Policy HOU11 of the Ashford Local Plan.
Under the Planning and Compensation Act 1991 the Local Planning Authority (LPA) cannot take enforcement action against a breach of planning control after defined time limits. In the case of a change of use to an HMO the limit is ten years; after which the use becomes lawful.
We recommend that you do not take advice from cold callers, whether by phone or door to door salesmen nor respond to social media adverts or emails. we have learnt of examples of potential scammers and rogue traders taking advantage of the announcement of this scheme.
The NHS COVID-19 app protects your privacy and identity from other app users, and their privacy and identity from you. The app uses random IDs that cannot be used by the NHS or the government to identify who you are, or who you’ve spent time with.
The app cannot:
use your GPS location or track where you have been
be used to check or monitor if you’re self-isolating
be used by law enforcement to identify or track you
see personal information on your phone, such as your messages, address book or your phone contacts