The Chairman thanked the people of Hythe and Dibden for their perseverance, courage and fortitude during this difficult period and for their continued commitment to helping us all get through the COVID-19 crisis. He paid tribute to the members of the community who have volunteered for the NHS scheme and for local organisations such as the Waterside Self-Isolation Support Group, and thanked them for their tireless efforts on behalf of those in isolation. He also thanked individuals who may not be part of an organised group but are helping their neighbours and friends.
The Council is working towards bringing the ACSOs back to Hythe and Dibden by the end of 2020. The COVID-19 crisis has delayed the situation but the Council is moving forward with recruitment.
The Chairman gave an update on the work that has been undertaken by the Parish Council during the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions:
· The Council has acted as a liaison between a private company, doctors surgeries and care homes to identify any requirements that the organisations may have for face shields.
· The Council provided initial information and support to the Waterside Self Isolation Support Group and subsequently offered assistance to the Group to collect prescriptions from chemists and deliver them to residents who were isolating.
· Council staff have continued to work adhering to the social distancing requirements. Following the closure of the NFDC information office staff have responded to an increased number of telephone calls to The Grove from residents seeking information on NFDC and HCC services. Officers have signposted residents to the relevant place using information supplied by both NFDC and HCC. There has been a notable increase in requests for allotments.
· The Maintenance Team have increased their work on the Council’s busiest amenity areas to cope with the increased usage by the public. Increased attention has been paid to the cleanliness of the facilities.
· Some caretaking staff have been redeployed to the maintenance team to undertake lone worker tasks such as painting benches and football goalposts. One of the Caretakers has assisted the maintenance team to plant the summer bedding plants and install the hanging baskets.
· The Council is liaising with NFDC to identify safe ways to reopen the NFDC information office located in the Grove. Potential solutions have been identified and work continues to make the information office available as soon as possible.
· Members and Officers worked together to find a creative solution to a problem being experienced by some members of this community. Due to the closure of the New Forest and local beach car parks and the subsequent increase in the usage of public footpaths and pavements, some less able residents found it difficult to exercise. Following discussions, the Council reopened the Noads Way Open Space facility and made a plea to the community to recognise the difficulties that some people were experiencing and the community responded. The Chairman read out a letter from a grateful resident.
The Chairman thanked the staff for all their hard work during this challenging time and for their continued efforts to help the community. He also thanked Members for all their help, support and for their innovative ideas to help the community.
An update about the recent Hythe Hospital war memorial design review meeting was provided on behalf of Cllr Osborne. It was agreed to write to the relevant NHS body to express the Council’s support of Hythe Hospital continuing as an ongoing war memorial and to request that the building of the new facility starts as soon as possible.
There was an update on the Hythe Men’s Shed community project. Although it is not a Council project, councillors are fully supporting this scheme. Cllr Fairhead is closely watching government guidelines for when the Men’s Shed can re-open.
It was noted that COVID-19 has interrupted a lot of democratic business at Hampshire County Council and New Forest District Council. However, both councils and their members continue to work for their communities. Hampshire County Council has set up the Coronavirus Hampshire Helpline, Hantshelp4vulnerable (0333 370 4000). HCC, along with district councils including NFDC, have organised local hubs to help vulnerable people identified by the government. Both councils have maintained their critical services during this period. It was noted that HCC and NFDC are now conducting many of their meetings virtually and there will be reports from district councillors and county councillors at the next Full Council meeting.