Mid Sussex District Council leader explains how council helping in coronavirus crisis

Letter from Jonathan Ash-Edwards, leader of Mid Sussex District Council.
Mid Sussex District councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards. Pic Steve Robards SR1802351 SUS-180122-173557001Mid Sussex District councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards. Pic Steve Robards SR1802351 SUS-180122-173557001
Mid Sussex District councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards. Pic Steve Robards SR1802351 SUS-180122-173557001

The hospitalisation of the Prime Minister is a stark reminder that this virus does not discriminate – anyone can catch it and anyone can spread it.

Communities in Mid Sussex are extremely resilient and I have been incredibly heartened by the response of the community at this difficult and unprecedented time.

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It has never been more important to look out for family, friends, neighbours and vulnerable members of our community.

I would also like to pay tribute to all those working in our NHS and care system locally who are treating people and saving lives in the most challenging of circumstances – you have the whole community’s support, admiration and gratitude.

We should also thank the key workers who are working flat out to keep critical services running, both in the private and public sector.

The district council’s staff, and our contractors Serco, have been no exception and are working tirelessly to deliver critical services and support the community and local businesses.

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We have taken a wide range of action to ensure support is available to residents, especially the most vulnerable.

If you need help, please phone the West Sussex Community Support Helpline on 0330 222 7980. Lines are open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm.

Parking charges in council car parks have been suspended to help key workers and enable residents working from home to get cars off crowded town centre streets.

Additional financial support is being provided to residents eligible for the Council Tax Support Scheme.

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All rough sleepers have been offered somewhere safe to stay and we have extended the stays of anyone in emergency accommodation.

While we are working to minimise disruption to services, some will be inevitable in the weeks ahead and residents’ understanding will be appreciated.

While playgrounds and leisure centres are now closed in line with Government social distancing rules, our parks and open spaces will remain open for people to take their daily exercise unless the government directs otherwise and I would like to thank everyone who is using our parks responsibly and with consideration for others.

The impact on Mid Sussex businesses has been considerable, with many being forced to close overnight by these restrictions.

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The government has announced a range of support for businesses and we put the business rates reliefs and grants in place last week, as soon as we received the final guidance.

This means that eligible businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will not pay any business rates in 2020/21.

Grants of £10,000 and £25,000 are available to eligible businesses which receive small business rate relief or who are in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. The first payments are being made this week.

We have advertised this support via our local business associations and online and are writing directly to businesses we believe to be eligible.

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I would encourage businesses to check their eligibility and apply at www.midsussex.gov.uk/revsandbens/business-rates/new-grants-for-business-rates/

I hope that all Mid Sussex residents remain safe and well. We will get through this and we all need to play our role by staying at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.