Norman’s Notes

Normans Notes

August 2020

Norman’s Notes

It has been a few months since I have written Norman’s Notes, but as we recover from Covid-19 this seems a good time to share some useful, and I hope, interesting news.

Time is running out for business support grants

Time is running out! If you run a local business in Mid Sussex, and have not yet applied, you must do so by as the scheme closes at midnight on Friday 28 August.

There are still grants of £10,000 and £25,000 available to help businesses through the coronavirus pandemic. Register before the cut-off at:  https://grantapproval.co.uk/

Mid Sussex leisure centres will reopen on Tuesday 1 September.  

A special Council meeting took place on Wednesday 19 August to formally approve the new operating arrangements to ensure the leisure centres could re-open as soon as possible.

The decision to open Kings in East Grinstead, The Dolphin in Haywards Heath and The Triangle in Burgess Hill follows months of negotiations with Places Leisure, who operate the centres on behalf of the Council.

Since the leisure centres closed in March, Places Leisure have worked closely with Public Health England and the trade body ukactive to ensure the centres are able to reopen safely in line with government guidance. 

Councillors agreed that the Council would support reopening costs which are forecast as being potentially £2.5m in the year to April 2021.

As customers return to the leisure centres, they will notice a range of new measures in place to keep them, and leisure centre staff, safe. Signage will be in place to help people follow social distancing: there will be hand sanitising and cleaning stations; the number of people taking part in each activity will be reduced and cleaning regimes will be greatly enhanced.

Customers will be asked to book all activities in advance via the Places Locker app or the Places Leisure website. There will be a 15-30 minute changeover period between each session to allow customers time to exit their activity safely and Places Leisure staff to clean the facilities.

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of MSDC said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on leisure across the country and Mid Sussex’s leisure centres were not immune from this. We have worked hard with Places Leisure to find a way to reopen our three centres in a Covid-secure and financially sustainable way.

The Council is making available a huge financial support package for leisure in Mid Sussex, potentially £2.5 million in this financial year, a level of subsidy which was not required before Coronavirus and without which the leisure centres would not reopen. Given the huge sums of money involved, which this year will come from the Council’s reserves, it is right that we have taken time to thrash out the best possible deal.

Our leisure centres are an important part of our community and it’s fantastic that they will now be able to reopen on 1 September. I know how keen people are to get back to the gym, exercise classes and the swimming pool and I would like to thank residents for their patience while we negotiated this support package.

Once the leisure centres are open, I hope that residents will make use of them. They are safe and the more they are used, the less the burden will be on the taxpayer. I hope that the reopening on 1st September will be another important step towards a more normal way of life”.

Steve Warriner, Places Leisure Area Manager said: “We’re delighted that The Dolphin, Kings Centre and The Triangle will be re-opening on 1 September and we look forward to welcoming customers back to our gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools.

You will be able to find details of our opening times, customer FAQs and a list of all our available activities on our website at www.placesleisure.org/reopening/mid-sussex

Workplace Health in a post-Covid world

Mid Sussex District Council has successfully run virtual health talks for the past 2 months via Microsoft Teams. These free and interactive talks offer workplaces a range of individual topics, depending on interest. These can include stress and resilience, food and mood or improving sleep.

MSDC launched Virtual Wellbeing MOT’s last month: these are short 30minute discussions around lifestyle via Microsoft Teams, or telephone if preferred.

Following a MOT, employees can choose to have further support through 6 one-to-one lifestyle sessions, discussing any goals set during the MOT and potential signposting, also via telephone or on Microsoft Teams if preferred.

Additional services include Alcohol Support, currently on an individual basis, but group workshop sessions are also being developed for workplaces. 

It has been suggested that 1 million people have stopped smoking during lockdown, but as these people return to the workplace they may be tempted back to smoking. MSDC offers Nicotine Replacement Therapy either collected from MSDC offices or delivered to participants homes. 

Virtual health talks are planned to coincide with Alcohol Awareness week which runs from 16 to 22 November. 

For loads more information have a look at  https://midsussex.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk/ 

Or contact the team here: https://midsussex.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk/contact-us

Mid Sussex on track to receive £3.2 million for digital infrastructure

Mid Sussex District Council and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership have secured an additional £3.2 million from the Government, to improve digital infrastructure in rural Mid Sussex.

Digital infrastructure in rural areas is often left behind that of large cities because it is a much less profitable area for private companies to install the latest gigabit capable, full fibre broadband. The £3.2 million Government investment will help to stimulate the market in rural areas and make Mid Sussex towns and villages much more attractive places to invest.

MSDC is already working on a project to deliver gigabit capable, full fibre broadband in Burgess Hill, after earlier securing £2.2 million from the Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund.

The Digital Sussex Rural Connectivity Programme will accelerate the delivery of gigabit capable connections in the surrounding towns and villages.

Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of MSDC said, “With so many people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the benefits of a fast broadband connection have never been more apparent. The need for faster digital connectivity is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years and gigabit capable broadband will be essential if our local companies in rural areas are to compete on a level footing with businesses based in big towns and cities.”

Taps ran dry during the recent heat wave

During the recent heat wave, and with more people being at home due to the pandemic, there were parts of the south of the district were taps did run dry, in some instances for a number of days. This situation was completely unacceptable and resulted in our MP and leader of MSDC writing to the Chief Executive of South East Water. An extract from Cllr Ash-Edwards letter follows: 

“While I appreciate that water demand is currently very high because more people are at home and we are experiencing a significant period of hot weather, neither of these things were unforeseeable. I would have expected South East Water to be monitoring forecast water use and putting in place arrangements to ensure that supply can meet demand, or helping local people to reduce water use. Simply letting people’s taps run dry should never be an option. Why has there not been a more proactive communications campaign about the scale of this challenge and explaining how people across the district can help by reducing use of things such as hosepipes?

In the Council’s capacity as the local planning authority, we are required to regularly consult South East Water about the infrastructure in place to meet forecast housing and population growth in Mid Sussex. I understand this feeds into your Water Resource Management Plan. South East Water has never raised concerns about the capacity of water supply in Mid Sussex.

In South East Water’s April 2019 ‘lessons learned’ report about disruptions to water supply in Cuckfield, Bolney, Warninglid and Haywards Heath following the ‘Beast from the East’, further infrastructure improvements were set out, including a new flow meter at Warninglid Tower, an emergency connection to the Southern Water network and an additional booster at Bolnore. All of these interventions were scheduled for 2021-25, but are clearly urgent. What steps can you take to bring forward these improvements? If South East Water can not do this alone, I would welcome a conversation with you about how we can help lobby Government.”

Author: fiona bewers
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