Posted: 28.06.20 at 07:14 by Alastair McCraw
REPORT TO PARISH, BRANTHAM WARD (updated)
Babergh District Councillor Alastair McCraw
When I wrote the body of my monthly report below, we were expecting some relaxation of lockdown rules. Fine details of those are still emerging for shops, businesses, pubs, and households, but we are going to be trusted a little more, if we behave sensibly.
No sooner than these announcements were made, large numbers of people were making individual, but identical choices to go to the same places. At the same time. It doesn’t take long before individuals using their ‘new-found freedoms’ collectively become crowds. And crowds are bad!
We don’t want to stop being able to use businesses or to enjoy ourselves, but we must spread out, preventing transmission in every way possible.
It really is as simple as that. It almost certainly will be for some time to come; nobody can be certain for how long. As the year wears on we will enter the traditional Flu season. Influenza bears some similarities to the Coronavirus Covid-19, but the principal differences are a shorter incubation period where obvious symptoms emerge quickly, a much lower mortality rate and the crucial existence of vaccines. That’s why Covid-19 is so much more serious. It doesn’t display, hangs around, kills more people and we only have treatments, not cures. The measures we’re taking right now, would co-incidentally reduce flu transmission as well and we should bear those in mind as matter of common sense. If you can get a flu jab, at the right time, I’d urge you to do so.
I’m stressing this to make a central point, we are all going to have to take personal control here. If we’re lucky/sensible, a return to full lockdown can be avoided as we shift to a more locally focussed response to individual outbreaks. How local? Well, recent figures for Brantham, East Bergholt and Capel St Mary showed that 20% of deaths in the last three months were Covid-19 related.
That same figure for the Shotley Peninsula was 35%, a significant difference. We’re right next to each other, the former is arguably more densely populated. This is where individual choices and actions may be a factor. Of course, there are going to be other factors, but we’re not always in control of those. Here, we can and should be. I sincerely apologise for seeming to lecture, and no criticism is intended, but a point, true to all societies at all times is even more important now,
‘Nobody is invulnerable, Everybody is responsible’.
COVID-19: THE ‘NEW NORMAL’ CHANGES… A BIT.
In many ways, life became a little simpler during Full Lockdown from March. You stayed put with a few defined exceptions. For those who were ‘shielded’ you just stayed put. Now as we gradually re-open businesses and allow more activity there are more choices to make. We know this process will continue and, like most people, I’m going to continue to be very careful. Being able to do something doesn’t mean that I’m going to do it. Not everybody will have those choices though. Some will have to go back to work, or travel. So, it’s also a choice to think about the essential precautions. The hand washing, the use of masks, the maintaining your distance. (We’re British, so we may have a head start with the last one).
I’m very aware that 70% of those who tested positive for Covid-19 through recent NHS Test and Trace ‘didn’t think they had it’. They had identified NO symptoms. That bears out the initial estimates based on many fewer tests. This is why we entered the lockdown. If you can’t tell, you must assume you might be a risk to others. Things like quarantines and tracing contacts in pandemics are as old as recorded human history.
On the Council side, all the support previously available continues. More meetings are being held, remotely, now. The Cabinet, Regulatory, Licensing, Scrutiny committees etc, all have held or will be holding meetings. And, of course, the Planning committee have met, to fulfil their statutory duties.
More about planning later. On July 21st, the entire Council will hold its first ever remote Annual Meeting, which promises to be an interesting experience for us.
An additional Discretionary Grant Scheme was launched in record time recently. This provides grant opportunities for some organisations who ‘fell through’ the cracks of the earlier grants. These include charitable organisations who already received rate relief, like nurseries and play groups. It also covers Market traders, those in shared premises and B&B’s.
The Grants are up to £5,000 in Babergh and most eligible will have been contacted by now. Enquire on the Babergh website.
PLANNING (AND THE REST)
Babergh Planning Committee passed the final version of the Brantham Place application at the start of June. I say final version, because these plans had been heavily altered over the last two or so years. That was in direct response to the consultation responses from Brantham, from the AONB, and a host of the significant consultees. I’ve rarely seen so many objections, soundly made, actually acted upon, and addressed in the proposals. It wasn’t too surprising that the vote was unanimous. In this case, the Consultation worked. It massively improved the application. There are a raft of conditions and attending to those, and their implementation will be my next job.
Planning isn’t a matter of dealing with the application alone. I find myself looking at proposals and the effects before, during and after each and every one. At the moment, I’m handling the Slough Road appeal, the Slough Road re-application, a technical appraisal for the forthcoming Church Field project, the above Brantham Place obviously and ongoing matters related to the Taylor Wimpey ‘Stour View’ site. There are always going to be ongoing matters. I warned that there would be before, even if I don’t know what they might be. Some are time sensitive, some will emerge later, but they will be addressed to try to resolve them. Even earlier completed work brings up little legacy issues requiring a solution. The Brantham Regeneration Area, as a whole project, will be a big legacy issue for me, taking years. It has already.
THE INFORMATION LIST
I use Facebook daily for updates and information, so I recommend my page.
Other sources: Gov.uk for National advice, particularly any changes to regulations made.
Suffolk County Council for Schools, Buses, Highways & County support available.
Your key site though is Babergh.gov.uk. Our standard telephone number is 0300 123 4000. Or call me.
The Tribe Volunteer app co-ordinates support efforts. For the most vulnerable, ring the ‘Home but Not Alone’ helpline on 0800 876 6926, 7am to 5pm.
Across the water, tendringdc.gov.uk. We wish our neighbours well.
Risk of Homelessness? 0300 123 4000.
Fear of Domestic Violence? 0300 123 4000 (in hours). 0808 168 7794 (out of hours).
Everything we do affects everybody else. Nobody is invulnerable, Everybody is responsible. And always, Be Alert. There are scams about.
Alastair McCraw. 07812 564188 OR 07548 154296 [email protected]
Facebook: Alastair McCraw, Brantham Independent Councillor