News

Coronovirus update

You will have seen/heard that the Government is planning to ask those over 70 to stop social contact for a prolonged period.

The Minister for Health has emphasised that the Government have not yet decided when this period should start. Starting too early will prolong the period that over 70s need to ‘self-isolate’.

Those with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic lung disease and some cancers may be more suscetible to more severe affects of the virus and should take extra care to protect themselves.

For more advice on Coronavirus see our earlier post

Coronovirus latest advice

The Prime Minister, supported by the Chief Scientific Advisor and the Chief Medical Officer announced new measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) this afternoon.

No new restrictions on events were announced. Schools are expected to continue to open as normal, unless advised otherwise by local public health officers.

Stay at home guidance for coronavirus symptoms

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection

  • if you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. (See Ending Isolation section below for more information)
  • this action will help protect others in your community whilst you are infectious.
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home.
  • stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible.
  • sleep alone, if that is possible.
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water.
  • stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible.
  • you do not need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

Those self-isolating with mild symptoms will not be tested.

Continue to good hygiene practice

The Chief Medical Officer emphasised that the most important thing for individuals to continue to use good hygiene practice previously recommended.

Do
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Don’t
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

NHS
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

KCC Trading Standards Checked

Kent County Council has launched its Trading Standards Checked scheme for businesses in the home repair and improvement sector.

Trading Standards Checked helps protect Kent residents – especially those who are more vulnerable to doorstep callers – from criminal and rogue traders. It also supports legitimate businesses by giving them trusted accreditation to show consumers that they are legitimate and trustworthy.

Traders applying to be on the scheme are checked thoroughly. KCC has access to information and systems that no other scheme in Kent has, together with highly trained, experienced staff with a range of skills developed in their work supporting KCC Trading Standards.

Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “Trading Standards Checked is a trusted accreditation like no other for Kent traders.

“It will set businesses apart and give customers peace of mind when dealing with Trading Standards Checked traders. It’s also a simple, hassle free trader scheme that offers value for money and provides businesses with all the support they need to trade with confidence.”

KCC currently has two special offers for traders, which are available until 31 March.

Kent members of Checkatrade are offered free membership for the first year, and non-members of Checkatrade can benefit from an “early-bird” discount of 50%, which means a fee of £249 plus VAT for the year.

Consumer advice is available at:
https://tschecked.kent.gov.uk/consumer-advice

Information for traders at www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked

Kent County Council, 10 March 2020
https://kccmediahub.net/kccs-trading-standards-checked-scheme-launched745

Don’t use Paypal ‘friends and family’

PayPal customers encouraged by sellers to make payments via its ‘friends and family’ option instead of ‘goods and services’ are unnecessarily leaving themselves without payment protection – and some are even losing cash.

PayPal’s system allows users to select between making a payment for ‘goods or services’ – which comes with Buyer Protection should something go wrong – or ‘family and friends’ which is essentially a money transfer and does not offer protection.

In the last two weeks alone, we’ve spoken to several MoneySavers who have been encouraged by sellers to make payments using the ‘friends and family’ option – in some cases by online scammers.

We don’t know for certain why scammers do this, but we believe it’s because it’s harder for shoppers who’ve paid via ‘friends and family’ to get their money back. Legitimate traders can also benefit from being paid via ‘friends and family’ because those who are paid via it aren’t charged a fee, unlike with the ‘goods and services’ option.

However, the message on this is clear and simple: if someone selling you goods or a service asks you to send a friends and family payment, you should refuse. Otherwise you won’t be reimbursed if something goes wrong.

Callum Mason
MoneySavingExpert.com 10 March 2020
https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/paypal-scam-victims-warn-against-fraudsters-who-ask-for–family-/

The Wangiri fraud

Wangiri is a Japanese word meaning ‘one (ring) and cut’.

It’s a telephone scam where criminals trick you into calling premium rate numbers.

A fraudster will set up a system to dial a large number of random phone numbers. Each calls rings just once, then hangs up, leaving a missed call on the recipients’ phone.

How does it work?

A person finds a missed call on their phone. If the person calls the number back they will be re-routed to a premium rate number overseas and will be subsequentlycharged for the expensive call.

What are the signs?

The call…

  • takes place at night or during working hours (reducing the chances for the recipient to answer the call);
  • displays an unusual international country code.
  • rings only once;

What can you do?

  • If you have a missed call from an unknown number, don’t call back.
    A legitimate caller will either leave a message or call back.
  • If you receive several such calls, let your phone operator know.

Europol
https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/public-awareness-and-prevention-guides/telecommunications-fraud

Coronavirus scams cost victims over £800k in one month

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified 21 reports of fraud where Coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totaling over £800k.

Of the 21 reports, ten were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers. One victim reported losing over £15k when they purchased face masks that were never delivered.

We have also received multiple reports about coronavirus-themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.  

One common tactic used by fraudsters is to contact potential victims over email purporting to be from research organisation’s affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

Reporting numbers are expected to rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

Protect yourself

Watch out for scam messages:

Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

Shopping online:

If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely

Protect your devices from the latest threats:

Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats. For information on how to update your devices, please visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information: how to stay safe

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Action Fraud, 6 March 2020
https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-scam-costs-victims-over-800k-in-one-month

Council Tax 2020/21

The main precepting authorities for residents of the Borough have announced their proposed precepts for the year commencing 6 April 2020 as shown in the table below for a Band D property:

Authority19/20% Rise£ Rise20/21
KCC £1,299.42 3.99%£51.84 £1,351.26
ABC£162.503.08%£5.00£167.50
FRA£77.761.97%£1.53£79.29
PCC£193.155.18%£10.00£203.15
Total unparished £1,732.83 3.95%£68.37 £1,801.20

The total Council Tax for each property band is shown in the table below.

BandProportion Band D%
Band D
2019/202020/21Rise
pa
2019/20
pm
2020/21
pm
Rise
pm
A6/967% £1,155.22 £1,200.80 £45.58£115.52£120.08£4.56
B7/978% £1,347.76 £1,400.93 £53.18£134.78£140.09£5.32
C8/989% £1,540.29 £1,601.07 £60.77£154.03£160.11£6.08
D9/9100% £1,732.83 £1,801.20 £68.37£173.28£180.12£6.84
E11/9122% £2,117.90 £2,201.47 £83.56£211.79£220.15£8.36
F13/9144% £2,502.98 £2,601.73 £98.76£250.30£260.17£9.88
G15/9167% £2,888.05 £3,002.00 £113.95£288.81£300.20£11.40
H18/9200% £3,465.66 £3,602.40 £136.74£346.57£360.24£13.67

Some authorities have yet to vote on their budgets.

References:

East Stour Park decision

Riverside view of proposed development

The decision notice for the East Stour Park development has been published by Ashford Borough Council.

The reason given or refusal is:

The proposal would be contrary to Policies SP1 and ENV2 of the Ashford Local Plan (ALP) 2030, the Green Corridor Action Plan 2017 supporting the ALP and policies in the NPPF and would be harmful to interests of acknowledged planning importance for the following reasons;

  1. the application site is located within the designated Ashford Green Corridor and the proposed residential development is not compatible with, or ancillary to, the principal role and current use of the application site and would be harmful to the existing visual function of this part of the Green Corridor through the loss of an important undeveloped open space ‘buffer’ located between the existing built-up area to the west and the A2042 located to the east,
  2. as a consequence of (a) above, the proposal would result in a detrimental change to the landscape character and visual amenity of this part of the Green Corridor,
  3. the proposal would give rise to a detrimental change in the ability of the site to continue to function as a wide undeveloped corridor supporting varied wildlife habitat, wildlife connectivity and biodiversity,
  4. the proposal would result in unjustified residential development on land which is flood zone 3, and
  5. the site is not a brownfield site and the proposal would not provide overriding planning benefits sufficient to outweigh the significant harms identified above.

Arlington payphone removal.

Red telephone box

Ashford Borough Council have received notice that the payphone at No. 58 Arlington is one of five that BT intend to remove in addition to those publicised in June last year.

Ashford Borough Council will not adopt the payphone but there is an opportunity for a local community group to do so. BT would like to hear the view of the community on the proposal.

Please comment on this post – we will feed your comments back to ABC.

BT’s letter to ABC says:

We’re continually reviewing the demand for our payphones. Further to our letter of 28 June 2019 we’ve now identified an additional 5 public payphones that we’re proposing for removal under the 90 day consultation process and details of these payphones are attached. We’d welcome your feedback on whether the payphones in question are still needed. We greatly appreciate your help with this.

To ensure that the local community are fully informed, we have placed consultation notices on the relevant payphones, and a sample notice is enclosed. We have also included the date we posted these notices on
the payphones. The consultation period will close on 14 May 2020.

This consultation process gives your local communities the opportunity to adopt a traditional red ‘heritage’ phone box and make it an asset that local people can enjoy. It’s really simple to do and it costs just £1.00
http://bt.com/adopt

Overall use of payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is diminishing all the time, with at least 98 per cent of the UK
having either 3G or 4G coverage. This is important because as long as there is network coverage, it’s now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider.

You may also want to consider Ofcom’s affordability report which found that most people do not view payphones as essential for most consumers in most circumstances http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/affordability/affordability_report.pdf

On the 14 March 2006 Ofcom published a statement following their 2005 review of universal service in the telecommunications market, which includes a requirement for payphone provision to meet reasonable
needs. Part of that statement amended our obligations with regard to the removal of payphone service:
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf file/0021/34266/statement.pdf

As stated in Ofcom’ review,it is the responsibility of the local authority to initiate its own consultation process to canvas the views of the local community. They would normally expect these consultations to involve other public organisations such parish or community councils work within the terms of the Communications Act . This means that you must able to objectively justify your decisions guidance on the removal process can be viewed at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removals.pdf
and a summary is available at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removing_callboxes.pdf

The guidance also details the appeals process we must follow in case of unreasonable objections.
If you wish to’object’, you will need to give your reasons, having reviewed all of the factors set out in Annex 1 of Ofcom’s guidance (see link above), and the information sent to you in our previous letter.