County Cllrs update 8/4/20

Please find copied below various updates-

Some have been redacted due to confidential issues.


Update to County Cllrs by the NCC Chief executive.


Dear members

This briefing is to bring you up to date following a very busy week for the Council, and to ensure that you as elected members are aware of the work that is being undertaken by the Council in the county, and have access to information you may need.


Please be assured that as a Council, we continue to be well prepared to respond to this situation and we are grateful for the engagement and support of all of our elected members and communities to support our efforts across the county at this time.

We have established strong communication structures over the past few weeks which ensures we are linking in regularly to both regional and national information networks.  This is allowing us to hear from Ministers directly about the national response plans and how we as a Local Authority can support the delivery of these plans in Northumberland, alongside our own response plans. We also continue to follow all Government and Public Health England guidance

The internal arrangements I outlined in last week’s update continue to be in place, with a regular meeting of the Executive Team I chair, acting as our Strategic Leadership Team (Gold Command) taking a strategic lead in directing priorities and the response plans to support our businesses and communities. Our Business Interruption Management Team (BIMT), chaired by the Service Director: Adult Social Care with representatives from all services, which meets three times a week, and ensures we are aware of any operational issues and that plans are in place to address any concerns across our service delivery.

As part of our response to any significant incident we would work closely with our partners across the public sector through the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) which draws together partners including local authorities, police, fire and rescue, the ambulance service and health across the Northumbria Police force footprint. The Northumbria LRF, like all other LRFs across the country have declared a Major Incident in response to Covid19. As reported last week Kelly Angus, Elizabeth Morgan and Paul Hedley will be the County Council and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service representatives on daily call of the LRF Strategic Coordinating Group. (SGC). The LRF will take a strategic coordinating role in those areas that cross Local Authority boundaries, supporting our work locally.

Over the past week we have had a number of priority areas, which I go into in more detail below, including the establishment of a Business Hub, putting in place arrangements to support the medically most vulnerable in our communities through the Shielding Hub,  continue to facilitate the amazing work of our community groups, as well as continuing to deliver critical services. The supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been a national issue, which you will have seen reported in the media. The Council and our providers are now starting to see deliveries of PPE and we have prioritised this for staff where it is needed most.


As we reported last week the Prime Minister has been clear that the country must take special steps to protect those who are extremely vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus due to  underlying health conditions. These measures, called ‘shielding’, include the advice to those who are extremely vulnerable not to leave their homes for 12 weeks and to limit non-essential contact to reduce the risk of infection. Many of the people who have been identified as being extremely vulnerable and in need of shielding measures will have received a letter from Government providing them with advice.

This guidance note sets out the Government’s approach to shielding, including a list of the underlying health conditions which would make someone extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 – see link here to this guidance.

Over this challenging period the ‘shielded’ should ask family, friends and trusted neighbours to support them and use online services to order food and essential goods where possible.  If this is not possible individuals can register here for the support they need. This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care needs.

The Council is playing a key role in supporting the ‘shielded’, specifically through the following:

  • We are ensuring the shielded who are unable to leave their house to shop are receiving an emergency food parcel. Eventually there will be around 50,000 deliveries nationally going directly to people’s doors through Government’s national shielding scheme. In the meantime, the Council has been supporting those who were in need of food whilst these national arrangements are established. We know that residents are now starting to receive food parcels through the Government delivery system and we will continue to work with national Government to ensure all our residents who need support are offered it.

  • Where food deliveries are made to shielded individuals who need help bringing the box of food into their house the Council will be there to support them, whilst maintaining social distancing guidance to continue to protect vulnerable people.

  • And we will be supporting the shielded who are experiencing social isolation and ensuring any wider social concerns are addressed.

We have set up a dedicated team of staff, drawn from across the organisation, to support this critical work, led by Maureen Taylor, Director of Innovation and Improvement. And we will continue to work with partners, including local primary health care and pharmacies, and the Government over the coming days and weeks on what is a fast moving and developing situation. If you have concerns over any shielded residents please get in touch with Maureen.


Alongside this critical work to support the specific group of ‘shielded’ individuals we recognise that many of our residents are experiencing difficulties due to the coronavirus disruption. In previous updates, I have informed you about our work to support the volunteering networks both current and new which have been rallying support across the county in response to Coronavirus, through our Northumberland Communities Together initiative – find more information here

If any of your residents  are struggling with managing at home and need support for basic things like food, and have been unable to get help from family, friends or local community groups, the council has set up a Community Response Hub as part of Northumberland Communities Together. For immediate assistance they should email: – or call 01670 620015 between 9am to 6pm, seven days a week.

Our dedicated team operating from County Hall, led by, Director of Innovation and Improvement, has continued to ensure that we harness the power of local community volunteers whilst making sure the county’s most vulnerable residents are protected. We are exploring how best we use the National NHS Volunteers scheme, to support the work already underway in our communities

To ensure the Council’s initiative is adding value to the existing networks, I have put in place a number of key staff to act as community connectors across the County, who are linking in and supporting the work of volunteers and community groups, and matching this to the calls for support we are receiving from residents.  To support you in engaging with the community connectors and the activities happening in your areas, as well as ensuring you are able to raise any concerns, seek further information or connect us to local initiatives happening that can assist in supporting our most vulnerable residents, I have asked a number of senior officers to work with you on this, many of whom  may already have been in touch with you.


As you will be aware the Council’s ongoing emergency response to Covid19 has launched the development of Northumberland Communities Together (NCT), which aims to provide support to communities with their volunteering networks and also help to support and assist the great work that is taking place in communities already.

We have now appointed a number of senior officers as well to support you as local elected members, to engage with your Community Connector at this time to ensure that you are well engaged and briefed on the progress being made with the Northumberland Communities Together initiative.

Who is my appointed senior officer?

What will my appointed senior officer contact me for and how do I contact them?

Your appointed senior officer will contact you once per week and this may be by email or by phone. You can contact them via their details on the attached document which is here.

Your appointed senior officer will likely ask you:

  • Are you picking up anything of concern from your local ward/community?

  • Is there anything happening in your ward regarding the provision of volunteers (e.g. existing and new groups that are appearing)?

  • Do you have anything that you wish to share with us and/or do you need any information and resources from the Council/NCT?

  • Are you in touch with your Community Connector?

What is the remit of a Community Connector and how can they help me?

Your Community Connector is the designated officer responsible for being a key point of contact for voluntary and community sector organisations within your ward and local area.  The Community Connector is someone who has a background in social care and working within communities and is familiar with the network and resources available within the area.

What do I contact my Community Connector for?

Your appointed Community Connector can provide information, assistance and resources linking you with community and voluntary sector groups and grants within the local area.

We are very keen to hear from our elected members regarding what they are hearing in their communities and that where we can, we act in accordance with the aims and objectives of Northumberland Communities Together to support our new and existing voluntary networks to succeed.

I would like to thank you again for your role in your communities and ensuring that there is a strong link back to the Council.


Alongside the support for our most vulnerable residents a key priority for us this week has been establishing the Northumberland County Council Business Hub to support the County’s businesses through these unprecedented times. I am pleased that we were able to launch the Business Hub at the end of last week. Led by Executive Director for Regeneration, Commercial & Economy, we have a dedicated team of specialist advisors to provide support and advice to businesses and employers.

You will no doubt have heard the Government’s announcements of grant support for businesses, as well as rate relief, loans and support for employers to maintain staff on their books.  The Council has a key role in supporting businesses and crucially in delivering this vital financial support, specifically the:

  • Small Business Grant Fund – Any small business (properties with a Rateable Value less than £15,000) in any sector who were in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief on 11 March 2020 may be eligible for a £10,000 small business grant payment.

  • Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Grant – Any retail/hospitality/leisure business operating from premises with a Rateable Value between £15,000 and £51,000 on 11 March 2020 may be eligible for a £25,000 grant.

Businesses who are in need of advice, would like further information on the support available to them, or would like to apply for one of the grants available should contact the Business Hub, here

At the close of office on Monday, we have made over 3,295 grant payments to businesses, totalling over £36.2m. We will be continuing to pay this vital source of cash to businesses as a matter of priority over the coming days.  During the past week we have fielded enquiries over 750 businesses, with the vast majority being found a package of support.

We have had a positive response from a number of businesses at the speed at which we were able to establish key information, advice and support and provide the mechanisms for businesses to be able to apply for the much needed funding.

We will continue to work with our business community, over what will be a challenging few weeks and months, supporting them where we can with finance and wider support and resilience.


The Council has now been informed by the Board of Active Northumberland, that it has made a decision to furlough the vast majority of its staff, initially for up to three months.

Active Northumberland will be accessing government support through the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” to continue paying part of their employees salary at this time.

The Active Northumberland Board have confirmed that employees who are ‘furloughed’ will remain on the company’s payroll, and their furlough leave will be a form of authorised absence.

The Chair of Active Northumberland felt that this decision was in the best interests of the company, until they have further clarity during a period of such certainty. They confirmed that this had not been an easy decision to make, and the Board have thanked all of their staff for their cooperation and professionalism at this time.

Whilst they hope to be up and running again as soon as they are able to, they very much want to support the Council’s efforts in protecting our most vulnerable residents, and will be supporting our Northumberland Communities Together initiative where possible.


Following the closure of the county’s Country Parks and a number of car parks there have been a number of instances over the past few days where members of the public have gained access to closed car parks or have parked inconsiderately. We strongly discourage this behaviour and we are urging all residents to comply with Government’s advice to stay at home and respect social distancing guidance. Civil Enforcement Officers are emphasising safe and considerate parking and we have partially remobilised parking attendants to some areas to support this.

We will be keeping this under review over the coming weeks, and I will update you again as soon as I have any further information.

All public toilets in the county will also be closed until further notice.


We have received reports that some businesses and individuals are not respecting the closure and stay at home guidance, so we are working with Northumbria Police to bring forward an enforcement programme. If this needs to be employed it will include proportionate actions to ensure we can keep our residents safe and support the Government’s strategy to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

The regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to move into takeaway services are now in place and Government is encouraging businesses to sustain their own business and support communities by doing this where possible,  in a safe way and whilst respecting social distancing (i.e. in customer queuing, ordering by phone / web, deliveries, etc).


Daily communication continues with our schools, who have responded well to the challenge of staying open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. On the first day of school closures, we had just over 3,000 children in school, but this has reduced over the weeks to between 800 and 900 children per day.

Arrangements over the Easter break:

  • 95 schools will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday

  • 80 schools will be open on the Bank holidays

  • 130 schools are opening for the Easter holidays (except the bank holidays), although not every school will be open every day – it is only when a place has been booked by parents that the school will be open.

  • 46 schools closed for the duration of the Easter Break, although 34 are closed as they don’t have any pupils

Our school admissions team will manage and secure any last minute provision for any key workers.

A list of schools by partnership is attached here

School transport

There are normally almost 1,000 school transport journeys each morning in Northumberland, but this has reduced to 130 since schools have closed. Provision will be stood up when schools re-open. We have agreed to fund school transport providers until the end of April in the initial stages of the crisis, but this will be reviewed over the Easter period in line with the support offer for businesses via the Government. In the meantime, some school transport providers have been helping with other tasks such as delivering school meals, medication and food parcels.

Free school meals

All schools have managed Free School Meal provision during the last two weeks, through:

  • Direct food provision via school catering or another provider.

  • Delivery of food daily.

  • Weekly food hampers.

  • Vouchers provided by the school and then more latterly provided by the government scheme.

Contact has been made with all schools (including those closed) to ensure they were aware of the Government’s announcement issued at the weekend. We have confirmation that over 7,500 meals are being provided each day of the holidays with the vast majority providing these through vouchers either organised locally or through the national scheme. Some schools still delivering pack lunches and food parcels. There may be a delay in the vouchers getting to families as some schools were having technical issues with the national voucher website, and the Department of Education is aware of these issues, and we await a resolution. Additional support has been offered to these schools to get a solution in place as soon as possible.

If parents feel their child is entitled to a free school meal, and are not currently claiming for one, they can do so here. They can also call us on 0345 600 6400 (weekdays 8.30am-4.30pm).

If members have any queries regarding any aspect of needing to access education provision at this time, please do not hesitate to contact Dean Jackson, Director of Education.


A range of strategies have been adopted by the Northumberland Education and Skills Service to support the learning of pupils during the school closure period. Dedicated web portal has been set up to support schools, containing a wealth of information and is updated daily.


There have been no flexibilities offered in relation to the Children Act 1989 thus far but the social work teams have adapted the delivery of interventions to assist with keeping children safe and the families they work with. The services are running as near to business as usual as they can, although are using remote contact where possible and safe to do so. Communications will be pushed out to encourage communities to raise concerns. Children’s Centres are now closed but the staff are supporting families who need additional support.

For Looked After Children, direct face to face parental contact has ceased in almost all cases, and they are being offered and facilitated via Facetime and Skype. Foster carers are being managed effectively, albeit some are shielding or self-isolating.

Adoption processes continued until the end of last week as introductions were already underway for some. Risk assessments are planned for the coming weeks.

Courts are no longer sitting, and virtual hearings are taking place where legal action is needed to protect a child.

For children’s residential provision, staff are being supported by youth workers. Barndale has been closed due to reduced demand, and staff deployed elsewhere. Kyloe House remains open but no new admissions will be taken.

We are closely monitoring our most vulnerable children, and measures have been put in place to make sure support packages are put in place where they are needed most. Ongoing dialogue with partner agencies including NSPCC continues for assurance.


The biggest immediate concern for us is access to personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly for the independent care providers who deliver most hands-on care.

The Council, acting on behalf of the Clinical Commissioning Group, has block-booked beds in a number of care homes to provide ‘step-down’ care to enable patients to leave hospital as soon as they are medically optimised, with the aim of ensuring that no hospital beds are occupied by patients who are waiting for longer-term care arrangements to be sorted out.

There are no significant problems in arranging services to meet our current support needs, however we are closely monitoring peak demand.

We are currently still meeting all our Care Act duties, though wherever possible we are now carrying out assessments and reviews remotely, to minimise the risk to vulnerable service users of face-to-face contacts.

Some service users have been making decisions to reduce or end their services during the emergency. Where service users cancel all support, we are monitoring their welfare at least weekly, unless we are confident that they have adequate support arrangements and contingency plans. As a result of service users withdrawing, most day services have suspended operation because of lack of demand. Where necessary, we have agreed to provide financial support during this suspension to ensure that services do not fold.


Much of the regular work of the Council is continuing albeit in many different ways, however if you are concerned about the welfare, health and wellbeing of any adult or child within Northumberland, please do not hesitate to contact Onecall, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, on 01670 536400 – please note, this is not for food parcels.


Democratic Services is currently reviewing the new regulations to support the proposed changes to move to virtual meetings and we will up-date members as soon as we are able to on this matter.

I appreciate that this is a very difficult time for everyone, and I am most thankful for the support of all elected members at this time.

Thank you all for your continued support.


A message to all County Cllrs from the Karbon CEO


I would like to update you on how we, at Karbon Homes, are supporting our customers and local communities during the coronavirus pandemic, and how we can support local authority and community group efforts.

Working with Local Authorities to Identify and Contact Vulnerable Customers

We are segmenting our customers by their level and type of vulnerability, and are sharing this information, where possible, with local authorities, to add to their data.

We are contacting our most vulnerable customers by phone to check on their situation and find out what type of support they need. We are already contacting more than 1,000 residents in our extra care and retirement living schemes daily and have begun to call a further 3,200 residents, aged over 70, living in individual homes. And following on from this will be contacting around 3,000 residents under 70 with specific vulnerabilities.

Expansion of Karbon Services to Support Older and Vulnerable Customers

We are expanding our own services to more customers and signposting to local authority hubs and community support where it is available in their area.

We have recruited more volunteers to our Silver Talk service, providing a regular, friendly phone call to Karbon customers, reducing their social isolation at this time. We are also supporting more customers through our Money Matters team, providing advice on finances, benefits and money.

We have invited customers and colleagues with children to write to our older residents who may be feeling lonely at this time. They can write the letters to us and we pass them on. Already, we have received a good response including a poem from 14-year-old Chloe.

Volunteering and Financial Support

Many of our Karbon colleagues have volunteered to support with our services and are also willing and keen to Local Authority  initiatives.

We are also providing funding to community groups, that are providing vital support to local communities during the coronavirus crisis.

If you know of any community groups looking for funding to boost their efforts during this time, please signpost them to where they can apply for our support.

We are already beginning to give out grants to local groups and we recently donated baskets of fruit to a Durham charity, PACT House, to be included in crisis food packs to the most vulnerable in Stanley. We have given grants to a number of other food banks operating in our area.


Additional Bespoke Crisis Support for Local Authorities

And we are helping local authorities, where we can, by providing additional services including helping to accelerate hospital admissions, or finding permanent homes for homeless people. In Durham, for example, we have rehoused three homeless people while Durham County Council provided them with furniture.

A message from C Cllr Glen Sanderson – NCC Cabinet member,

Local Services Update – Response to Covid 19 – 7th April 2020
I am writing to keep you up to date with how Local Services are continuing to work in these difficult times as we seek to protect our communities and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our main aims throughout this crisis are:
● keeping our employees safe whilst continuing to provide critical services
● playing our part in delaying the spread of the virus and
● supporting other areas of the Council and our communities
Clearly it is an extremely challenging time for all of us and I am extremely proud of the positive way in which our front line staff and service management teams have responded to the crisis,and are keeping our critical services running despite all of the difficulties being faced.
It is vitally important that we lead by example and that we protect our staff and our residents from the Coronavirus wherever possible, whilst doing our utmost to ensure we can continue to deliver those services that have been classified as critical services in the Council’s ‘Business Continuity Plans’.
We have quickly moved to reduce services to critical services only and have suspended other activities and asked people to work from home where possible. As a Council we have taken the view that the need to delay the spread of the virus is so important that we should suspend all activities that are not essential and that we should act as an exemplar for others.
The list of critical services may change as the epidemic progresses, however at the present time for Local Services these are considered to be:-
● Refuse Collection
● Litter bins
● Burials and Cremations

● Fleet Maintenance
● Visibility Cutting of Highway Verges (to maintain public safety)
● Amenity grass cutting (to ensure a clean, green, safe local environment)
● Highway Maintenance & Inspections
● Gully Cleansing (to maintain a safe and resilient network during bad weather)
● Response to Emergency Highway Incidents
● Street Lighting ( faults and safety issues)
● Severe Weather Response (when required)
● Home to School Transport (for children of key workers)
We will do our utmost to maintain these critical services during the pandemic. However, it should be noted that the actions outlined below are now being taken in respect of these and other services provided by the Local Services teams.

Clearly this is not an exhaustive list and other service areas are also implementing changes to service provision, with updated details being posted on the Council’s web page, via social media and in the press on a regular basis.

The key changes to our services can be found on our web page at and a quick summary is given below in relation to Local Services provision:-


Waste Services
We are continuing to provide the household refuse collection and recycling service, garden waste collections, as well as a commercial waste service to those businesses that are still operating, but this may be subject to change based on availability of staff and furthermGovernment control measures.

The garden waste service has been maintained in order to reduce the amount of waste being disposed of in the general waste bins, but we are not taking any new customers and the service is currently only available to those residents who used theservice last year.
Residents are still being advised to place their refuse, recycling and garden waste bins out for collection before 7am on their normal collection day and, if they remain uncollected, to take them back onto their property.
Easter bank holiday bin collections – On the week starting Easter Monday (13 April) all bin collections will run one day later than normal, so collections due on Monday will take place on Tuesday and so on, with Thursday collections being done on Friday.
We have suspended bulky household waste collections from 25 March 2020. Residents are advised to safely store any bulky items and we will confirm alternative collection dates for these items as soon as normal services are resumed.
All 12 Household Waste Recovery Centres have been closed to the public from 8am on
Tuesday 24th March 2020 until further notice.

This action has been taken in response to the travel restrictions being imposed on residents and the overwhelming numbers visiting these facilities prior to the closure, many of whom paid no regard to social distancing requirements
placing themselves, other visitors and staff at risk of infection.


Parks and Country Parks
The Council closed its Country Parks at Bolam Lake, Plessey Woods and Druridge Bay along with the car parks at these sites on 25 March 2020 until further notice.

Urban parks and green spaces will remain open to enable local residents to exercise, but
playgrounds will be closed, and all residents are expected to strictly follow Government
guidance on social distancing and avoiding any gatherings.

We are keeping the situation under review and we may close car parks at some of the urban country parks, whilst maintaining pedestrian access to them, if we find that people are continuing to make unnecessary journeys to these sites and/or they are attracting visitors from outside of the area. For example we have
had to recently close the car park at Atlee Park in Bedlington, whilst retaining pedestrian
access due to the number of people travelling to the site by car.
Safety inspections of Public Rescue Equipment such as life rings will continue to be
Street Cleansing & Litter Bins
We are operating a reduced street cleansing service which is focussed on emptying of litter / dog waste bins and cleansing in the immediate area around bins. We have suspended mechanical street cleansing activity in order to redeploy these staff to support other critical service areas such as refuse collection.

Grounds Maintenance
From May we will deliver our programme of highway verge cutting, which is essential for the safety of road users.
We have also decided to continue amenity grass cutting where possible, taking into account staff availability and the need to redeploy resources onto waste services if needed.

It is clearly important to keep our local environment clean, green and safe, and the summer grounds maintenance programme is key to this.

Maintaining an attractive local environment is important during this difficult time as it helps to lift public spirits and sense of well being and ensures that residents have accessible locations within their local area where they can safely take daily
exercise, whilst maintaining social distancing requirements and complying with restrictions on any unnecessary travel.

We also intend to undertake weed spraying on hard surfaces,
pavements and around obstructions.
Car Parks
The Council has now closed its off street car parks at key tourism destinations along the
Northumberland coast and other key visitor destinations such as Rothbury and Corbridge in order to help enforce the Government’s restrictions on non-essential travel and social distancing.

The car parks have ‘Car Park Closed’ signage and, where possible and appropriate, temporary physical barriers put in place to restrict access.

Public Toilets
All Public Toilets have been closed until further notice.

Funeral Services
The Council will continue to provide funeral services including cremations at Blyth
Crematorium and burials in Council operated cemeteries. In line with recent Government advice we ask that services are only attended by the immediate family.
During these extremely challenging times we will be reducing the numbers of chairs in our chapels to help encourage this and will introduce other control measures to limit the
transmission of the coronavirus at funeral gatherings to the elderly, frail, those in vulnerable groups along with funeral directors and Council staff.

However, we will also be providing a free
webcasting service to enable relatives and friends to participate in services without having to be present in the chapel.

New Government regulations have now come into effect that place stringent access
restrictions on cemetery and crematorium grounds. The Council had started to implement these regulations, which require the closure of cemetery grounds to all visitors other than those attending burial or cremation services. However, the Council received a number of concerns regarding this measure and is seeking urgent clarification from Government over the specific measures in the new legislation, and until we receive a response to this request all of our
cemeteries will remain open to the public.

However, it remains essential that people continue to strictly follow social distancing rules whilst visiting our cemeteries.

Highway Maintenance & Street Lighting
We have scaled back our operations to focus on only essential maintenance activity required to ensure that our highway network remains safe and accessible during the crisis.

Our Highway Inspectors will continue to undertake inspections and instruct response teams to undertake reactive defect repairs. Similarly any highway defects or street lighting faults reported by the public will be logged and responded to in accordance with our agreed policies and procedures.
Home to School Transport
School transport is still being provided to those children who qualify for free school transport
and whose parents are categorised as ‘key workers’ by the Government.

Local information

We now have a dedicated Covid 19 page on this website – CLICK HERE


We are dealing with a very large number of enquiries each day and continue to work closely with various depts within NCC . PTC and many other organisations.

We are as always available to support our residents everyday of the year.

But we can not respond to comments or queries on social media.(updated several times everyday)

Our secondary facebook page PrudhoeNland is there to support Prudhoe community groups & businesses who are welcome to use it at anytime.

We are also posting Govt guidance there on a regular basis


Importantly, please ensure you take care of yourself, and those around you, and stay safe and continue to follow the Government’s guidance.

These are unprecedented times, and we really do need to work together to get through this.

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