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General Information

Roadmap out of lockdown

4-step plan to ease lockdown in England has been announced by the Prime Minister.

From 8 March

Pupils return to face-to-face education in school and further education in England.

Outdoor recreation, such as a picnic, is allowed. This can be on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

Indoor visits to care homes start again for a single named visitor.

Read about the changes happening on 8 March.

Are You Blue Light Aware?

Do you know what to do should you be in driving along and you see blue lights and hear a siren?

Solid white line systems and traffic islands often cause confusion for drivers when an emergency vehicle is behind them. Stop? Carry on? Speed up?

Please watch this awareness video and help our emergency services.

Winter Weather Advice

With snow still on the ground over some of our area and a possibility of more forecast over the next couple of days West Mercia Police are reminding motorists to take extra care on the roads. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning of snow, ice and freezing conditions throughout Wednesday and Thursday.

Motorists are being encouraged to really consider if their journey is necessary or not.  Driving in icy and snowy conditions is challenging for drivers as vehicle handling changes significantly and stopping times and distances increase. When roads are slippery, it can take up to ten times longer for your vehicle to come to a stop. 

If your journey really is necessary then ensure you reduce your speed, keep well back from the vehicle in front and allow plenty of time to slow down. Motorists are advised to carry out simple POWDERS checks on their vehicles to ensure they are as prepared as possible;

P – Petrol (or diesel). Make sure you check your fuel level and if low, ensure you know the nearest garage.

O – Oil. Does your vehicle have enough oil? Don’t just rely on a sensor to tell you if your oil is low, it’s always better to check yourself

W – Water. Coolant/antifreeze should be checked to ensure this is at the correct level. It is vital the washer fluid is full to keep your windscreen clear, especially during winter months

D – Damage. Always check areas like damage to tyres or windscreen wipers.

E – Electrics. Check your headlights, indicators and hazards.

R – Rubber. Checking the tread, pressure and condition of the vehicles tyres is a simple, quick thing to do.

– Service. Is your vehicle due a service?

Drivers are being reminded about the importance of carrying an emergency kit in their cars in case of a breakdown or delay. This should include items such as an ice-scraper, torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, a first aid kit, battery jump leads, a shovel for snow, food and drink and sunglasses to help see in low winter sun. Motorists are also advised to make sure their mobile phone is fully charged before heading off on a long journey and to watch or listen to local news for updates and be prepared to alter their travel plans.

Are you ready for winter?

As the nights get colder and darker, the chances of severe weather increase.

Storms, floods and other extreme conditions can cause damage to network infrastructure and disrupt your energy supply.

That’s why Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is reminding the public to be well prepared for power cuts and gas emergencies that may result from bad winter weather.

In recent years the chances of unplanned problems with electricity and gas supply have reduced dramatically, and network companies have invested £billions in improving the reliability of local energy networks in the UK.

As a result, on average, electricity and gas distribution customers hardly ever suffer a power cut or interrupted gas supply these days.

Despite this, however, our gas and electricity networks can be affected by natural events, with severe winter weather potentially causing significant damage.

So be Winter Ready for the 2020/21 winter.

Make sure you’re prepared in case you have a power cut or gas emergency.

To be well prepared:

  • know your free emergency numbers – in a power cut dial 105 or, for a gas emergency, dial 0800 111 999
  • prepare your home – keep a torch handy and get your appliances serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • find out about the Priority Services Register – a free service provided by suppliers and network operators to vulnerable households which can give advance notice of planned power cuts or priority support in an emergency, eg with cooking and heating facilities. (Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register – to get on it, contact your energy supplier or visit www.energynetworks.org to find out who your network operator is.
  • keep a regular check on the weather forecast

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Community Risk Manager, said: “The danger of fire is also at its greatest during autumn and winter – so we’re asking people to remember these simple safety tips as the bad weather approaches:

  • watch out for overloaded plug sockets – many people use four-way bar adaptors to allow them to plug in more appliances, particularly in older properties that have fewer sockets
  • make sure that any portable heaters are being used safely – they should not be used to dry or heat clothes and should not be left switched on and unattended
  • check that electric blankets are in good condition – and that manufacturers’ instructions are followed
  • position your candles carefully – make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, bedding, books and newspapers, especially while the Christmas decorations are up
  • fit smoke alarms and test them regularly – working smoke alarms can buy you valuable time to Get out, Stay out and Call 999
  • make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if there is a fire – practise and memorise your escape route

Operation Snap Leads To Action

Operation Snap is the online dashcam reporting initiative where members of the public submit footage of moving road traffic offences directly via a secure portal on the internet.

Since mid 2018 the Op Snap Team at West Mercia Police alone have dealt with over 5100 submissions and around 91% of these reports have resulted in a ‘positive action’ result.

This doesn’t mean that 91% of drivers reported have been prosecuted, as in many case, an alternative means of dealing with the matter may have been used, such as warning letters or driver improvement courses. However, approximately 40% of reports have ended with a prosecution.

Around 5% are repeat offenders and those who are deemed to cause the most harm on our roads, for example drink/drug drivers, speeders, those using mobile phones whilst driving so the initiative has a huge part to play in ensuring these motorists are removed from the roads.

In approximately 9% of cases, no further action is taken – this may be because no offences can be confirmed from the footage, or the vehicle cannot be identified as the registration number or other unique markings are not visible.

West Mercia Police are very grateful to both our residents and visitors to the force area who take the time to submit Op Snap reports and by doing so, are helping to make our roads a safer place for everyone.

The work of Op Snap is contributing to helping us make the roads in West Mercia safer for all.

Anyone who captures what they believe to be a moving traffic offence is encouraged to upload it via the Op Snap portal at www.westmercia.police.uk/operationsnap

How many smoke alarms do you have in your home?

Latest fire statistics reveal that one smoke alarm may not be enough to provide you with the best chance of escaping a fire in the home.

Most people know a working smoke alarm can save lives by providing those vital few seconds needed to escape a house fire. Despite the majority of homes (95%) having at least one working smoke alarm, smoke alarms only alerted householders to just one in every three fires in the home in England. The most common reason a smoke alarm failed to activate was because the fire was outside its range.

For this reason, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) are encouraging people across the two counties to have a think about the number of smoke alarms in their home.

Group Commander Stuart Crebbin, Community Risk department said: “We all must make sure that we have enough smoke alarms in our homes and that they are in the right places. If your whole home isn’t covered, you could be leaving it to chance and, in a fire, you might not get the early warning that you need.

“The vast majority of us now have at least one working smoke alarm in our home, but early detection and warning is vital to reduce the devastation a fire can cause. That’s why it’s so important that you have enough smoke alarms and that they are in the right places. That will give them the best chance of alerting you and your loved ones to a fire.”

He continued: “You should make sure you have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home, preferably in hallways and landings. Placing smoke alarms near to sleeping areas and in rooms where there are electrical appliances could give you the extra warning you need.

“It’s also important to remember that smoke alarms don’t last forever. The power might work, but the mechanism deteriorates with time, so whether they are battery operated or wired to the mains, to work at their best they should be replaced every ten years.”

HWFRS offered these smoke alarm top tips:

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • The ideal position is on the ceiling, in the middle of a room or on a hallway or landing.
  • Consider fitting additional alarms in other rooms where there are electrical appliances and near sleeping areas.
  • Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident.
  • Install a heat alarm in your kitchen
  • Replace your smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Test your smoke alarms weekly

Group Commander Crebbin also urged carers and people who keep a close eye on less able relatives to check that these homes have enough smoke alarms in the right places too.

“Finally, if you want to see if you would qualify for a free Home Fire Safety Check or would like any fire safety advice, please call 0800 032 1155,” added Group Commander Crebbin.

Have a Happy Christmas – Smoke Alarms Save Lives

It’s beginning to look a lot like the time of year when statistically accidental fires in the home are more likely to occur! As many of us are ‘going early’ with putting the decorations up check your smoke alarms are working properly, and ensure that everyone in the house knows how to escape in the event of an emergency!

Make a diary note to regularly check #TestItTuesday

Appeal To Motorist When Passing Horses

To provide safety to horse, rider and motorist, please follow these four simple steps when passing horse riders along our country roads;

  • Slow down to a max of 15mph,
  • Be patient & dont sound your horn or rev your engine,
  • Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width,
  • Drive slowly away

Extra Bank Holiday to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022

The Government has announced a weekend of celebrations are being planned to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 70th anniversary as monarch.

The 2022 May Bank Holiday Weekend will be moved to Thursday 2 June and an additional Bank Holiday on Friday 3 June will see a four-day weekend to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s  Platinum Jubilee – the first time any British monarch has reached this historic milestone.

Planned national event will reflect on Her Majesty’s reign, and her impact on the UK and the world since 1952.

Fairfield Village Community Association are asking for ideas on how we, in our community, can mark this historic occasion; this could include a lasting legacy, as well a community gathering. .  Please email your suggestions to admin@fvca.org.uk

Community Oil Buying Scheme

  • Community First will negotiate on your behalf with the oil suppliers
  • The best deal will be secured
  • You pay the supplier direct for the oil they deliver
  • Deadlines for orders are approximately around the 26th-28th of each month

To become a member please complete the form and return with payment or for more information please call 01684 312730

Information and Advice for Older People

AGE UK offer a free and confidential information and advice service for older people, their families and carers. Our team can provide help in a variety ways including:

  • Providing Benefit Checks and help with claiming benefit entitlement
  • Checking if a person is eligible for a Warm Home Discount
  • Providing information about staying safe, warm and well during the winter

Read more CLICK HERE

Prime Minister announces new national restrictions

The Prime Minister has announced tougher national restrictions in England from Thursday.

With the NHS weeks from being overwhelmed, and a higher death toll than the first wave predicted without new restrictions, the Prime Minister, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor, and Cabinet agreed there was no alternative to tougher national measures.

The Prime Minister will update Parliament on Monday, and MPs are set to vote on the measures on Wednesday. This follows a Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister earlier today.

He said that no one wants to impose these kinds of measures, but no responsible Prime Minister could ignore the evidence presented.

He also said that, whilst Christmas will inevitably be different this year, tough action now could mean families may be able to be together.

Belgium, France, Germany and other countries have already put in place national restrictions, following earlier local measures.

From Thursday 5 November, everyone must stay at home, and may leave only for a limited set of reasons. These include:

  • For education;
  • For work, if you cannot work from home;
  • For exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household, support bubble or on your own with one person from another household;
  • For all medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm;
  • To shop for food and essentials;
  • And to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

A full set of exemptions will be set out in law.

Single-adult households will still be able to form an exclusive support bubble with one other household, and children can move between homes if their parents are separated.

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will be closed. Click and collect services can continue and essential shops, including supermarkets, will remain open, so there is no need for anyone to stockpile.

Pubs, bars, restaurants must close, except for takeaway and delivery services.

People should work from home wherever possible. Workplaces should stay open where people cannot work from home – for example, in the construction or manufacturing sectors.

Shielding as practised in the spring will not currently be reintroduced. The clinically vulnerable, or those over the age of 60, should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise contacts with others. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not only minimise their contacts with others, but also not go to work if they are unable to work from home.

There is no exemption for staying away from home on holiday. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions. Overnight stays away from primary residences will not be allowed, except for specific exceptions including for work.

Inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach, and those currently on a domestic holiday will be allowed to finish their holidays, but are still subject to the requirements in England not to go out without a reasonable excuse.

Public services, such as job centres, courts, and civil registration offices will remain open.

There is no exemption for communal worship in places of worship (except funerals and individual prayer), organised team sports, or children’s activities.

Elite sport will be allowed to continue behind closed doors as currently.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known as the furlough scheme, will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. The cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme, which ends today.

As the Prime Minister and Education Secretary have said, keeping young people in education is a national priority so early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Parents and carers should make sure their children keep attending school. However, universities and adult learning providers should consider increasing online provision where possible.

Parents will still be able to access registered childcare and other childcare activities where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work. Parents are also able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.

Ministers are also clear that it is vital to keep the provision for non-Covid healthcare needs going. Unless clinicians tell patients otherwise, they should continue to use the NHS, get scans and other tests, turn up for all appointments and collect medicines and treatments.

Ministers have done everything in their power to avoid another national lockdown.

The natural rate of R is around 3, meaning local restrictions have helped slow the spread of the virus, whilst NHS Test and Trace is testing more than any other country in Europe.

But the R rate is still above 1, meaning infections, hospitalisations and deaths continue to double, and the virus is now a national problem.

On present trends, in the South West, where incidence is low for example, it is clear they would run out of hospital capacity in a matter of weeks unless we act.

Whilst work is underway to boost capacity, including preparing the Nightingales, it is impossible to create extra bed space, and recruit extra doctors and nurses, at the rate necessary to outpace the virus.

Second Lockdown Announced

The Prime Minister announced (Saturday 31st October) a second national lockdown, commencing Thursday 5th November and lasting until Wednesday 2nd December, requiring non-essential shops and hospitality to close.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said:

“From Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home.

You may only leave home for specific reasons, including:

For education; For work, say if you cannot work from home; For exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household or on your own with one person from another household; For medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm; To shop for food and essentials; And to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

I’m afraid non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed – though click and collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open, so there is no need to stock up.

Pubs, bars, restaurants must close except for takeaway and delivery services.

Workplaces should stay open where people can’t work from home – for example in the construction or manufacturing sectors.

Single adult households can still form exclusive support bubbles with one other household, and children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated.

If you are clinically vulnerable, or over the age of 60, you should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others.

I know how tough shielding was, and we will not ask people to shield again in the same way again. However we are asking those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to minimise their contact with others, and not to go to work if they are unable to work from home.

I am under no illusions about how difficult this will be for businesses which have already had to endure hardship this year. I am truly, truly sorry for that.

This is why we are also going to extend the furlough system through November. The furlough scheme was a success in the spring. It supported people and businesses in a critical time. We will not end it. We will extend it until December.

There will be some differences compared to March.

These measures above all will be time-limited, starting next Thursday 5 November. They will end on Wednesday 2 December, when we will seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.

Christmas is going to be different this year, very different, but it is my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now, we can allow families across the country to be together.

My priority, our priority, remains keeping people in education – so childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Our senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be.

We cannot let this virus damage our children’s futures even more than it has already. I urge parents to continue taking their children to school and I am extremely grateful to teachers across the country for their dedication in enabling schools to remain open.

And it is vital that we will keep provision for non-Covid healthcare groups going.

So please – this is really important – unless your clinicians tell you otherwise, you should continue to use the NHS, get your scans, turn up for your appointments and pick up your treatments. If at all possible, we want you to continue to access these services, now and through the winter. Indeed it’s only by taking this action that we can protect the NHS for you.”

Fire Chiefs & Burns Association Issue Fireworks Warning

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has teamed up with the British Burn Association (BBA) to warn families of the dangers of holding firework displays at home this Bonfire Night.

Between 2014 –19 there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38% of these in youngsters under 15 years of age and the majority (67%) were sustained by males.

The NFCC advises that in order to hold a firework display, the space required depends on the type of firework and must be checked. The information for each firework will be printed on the side of the product so should be checked before purchase. In general, the distance required will range from five metres to 25 metres, this is equivalent to half the length of a fire engine to two and half times the length of a fire engine. So, spectators should be at least this distance away from the firework when it is set off. Therefore, the size of the garden will need to be greater than the distance shown on the firework.

If families do have the space in their garden, they must ensure that fireworks are bought from a licensed supplier or authorised retailer who can also provide appropriate advice. Fireworks must not be bought or used by anyone under the age of 18 and fireworks must have the CE safety mark printed on them.

Recently introduced government legislation gives police the powers to fine people who break the latest measures. Government restrictions on social gatherings – both nationally and locally – aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ease pressures on the NHS.

Remember, Remember Stay Safe This November

Think twice about home firework displays, in addition to the destress that fireworks cause livestock and family pets (we are a farming community), fireworks are dangerous and can cause serious injury. 

If you choose to go ahead plan and prepare – carefully, 

A £2 firework at a family display misfired & left Maisie with burn injuries. Hear her story in this video released by the National Fire Chiefs Council.  

WARNING:  Some people may find the film destressing.

Green Homes Voucher Scheme

The Green Homes Vouchers opened on 30th September 2020 and is a government scheme which can be accessed via the Simple Energy Advice website (this site also includes more information): https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/

The government will provide a voucher that covers up to two thirds of the cost of qualifying improvements to your home. The maximum value of the voucher is £5,000. You may be able to receive a higher level of subsidy if you are a homeowner and either you or a member of your household receives one of the qualifying benefits, covering 100% of the cost of the improvements. The maximum value of these voucher is £10,000.

Private rented properties cannot receive the ‘low income’ vouchers up to £10,000. 

The deadline for works to be completed is March 31st 2021. 

Anyone needing help and guidance about this government scheme can contact the council’s energy advice service, delivered by YES Energy Solution https://www.yesenergysolutions.co.uk/schemes/bromsgrove-and-redditch-energy-advice-service

Green Homes Grant: Good News and Scam

Homeowners in England will be able to apply get up to £5,000 of vouchers for energy-efficient home improvements from September 2020. To get a government voucher, you’ll need to complete an online application for a recommended home improvement, get a quote from a listed supplier and have the quote approved.

For more information on this, please visit: www.gov.uk/improve-energy-efficiency. This new scheme fits in with a popular scam where consumers are contacted by phone and mail to explain that they can help consumers with applying for a grant, find suppliers and get the work done for them for a fee. Once the fee has been paid, no work is ever carried out and the money is gone.

What’s more is that these consumers will be added to a marketing list, which can be sold on to other fraudulent companies in an effort to target them with a completely different scam. If you receive a cold call or letter from someone claiming to be able to help you with the new government grant, hang up and report the call to Action Fraud.

Cleaner Domestic Burning of Solid Fuels and Wood

DEFRA has released information regarding cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels and wood, following a consultation carried out in 2018. This BBC article provides an overview and the full consultation response is on the DEFRA website

This may well be generating some interest within the parish.

Changes will mean:

  • Sales of bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose coal direct to customers will end by 2023
  • Sales of wet wood in small units (less than 2m3) will be phased out required to have a moisture content of 20% or less from February 2021. Small foresters have until February 2022 to become compliant. Wet wood in volumes greater than 2m3 will also have to be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning
  • Makers of solid fuels will also need to show they have a very low sulphur content and only emit a small amount of smoke.

It is not banning wood or coal burning stoves.

The reasons behind this legalisation and other advice around burning the right things in the right way is to reduce the risk of:

·         air pollution and associated health problems

·         carbon monoxide poisoning

·         chimney fires/house fires

Worcestershire Regulatory Services are responsible for providing technical support in respect of air quality in Bromsgrove and Redditch and have some links on their ‘Smokeless Zones’ page to useful information for anyone with a solid fuel appliance/wood burner, whether or not they are in a smokeless zone.

https://worcsregservices.gov.uk/nuisances/smoke/smokeless-zones.aspx

Burnright is a campaign led by the chimney sweep industry https://burnright.co.uk/

Bromsgrove District Council are going to have some brochures from Burnright a campaign led by the chimney sweep industry, in our Customer Service Centres.

How long does it take litter to rot?

How long does litter take to rot if we carelessly throw it away?

Two Weeks – Apple Cores

Although this is a rapid decomposition time, throwing away cores and other pieces of fruit can encourage rodents.

Four Weeks – Paper towels, paper bags, newspaper

With these items, decomposition time can vary enormously depending on how they are disposed of.

Six Weeks – Cereal boxes, banana skins

Banana skins can take longer than this to decompose if the weather is cold, as the skins are designed to protect the fruit inside. They are full of cellulose which is the same material from which cellophane wrappers are made.

Two – Three Months – Waxed cartons, cardboard

With such items, the decomposition time will vary depending on the thickness of the carton.

Six months – Cotton clothing

Of all textiles, cotton is the most biodegradable. Cotton can be composted and if the conditions are damp and warm enough, a piece of light cotton clothing can biodegrade in as little as a week.

One Year – Light woollen clothing

Light woollen clothing such as pullovers and socks. Wool is a natural product, so when it decomposes it releases into the soil useful nutrients such as protein keratin.

Two Years – Orange peel, plywood, cigarette ends

Cigarettes contain more than 600 ingredients, of which the longest lasting is cellulose acetate which takes a very long time to biodegrade.

Five Years – Heavy woollen clothing

Ten to Twenty Years – Plastic Bags

Many newer bags are designed to decompose when exposed to sunlight, though the majority are made from high density polyethylene. This is made with refined petroleum and it is not easily decomposed. The natural micro – organisms in soil don’t recognize the chemicals as food, so don’t break them down.

Thirty to Forty Years – Nylon, Carpet, Disposable Nappies

While they are convenient, disposable nappies are pretty toxic items, even if they haven’t been used, as they are treated with many chemicals.

Fifty Years – Tin cans, Car tyres, trainers, leather.

Seventy-Five to Eighty Years – Crisp Packets

With many packets made from metallised plastic film, they last a ridiculously long time.

One Hundred Years – Plastic Ring Holder

These are particularly hazardous to animals, as the rings can get trapped around their necks and choke them.

Two Hundred Years – Aluminium Drink Cans

It is more beneficial to recycle aluminium as it can be done indefinitely and the energy of recycling cans is far lower than creating new ones. Twenty recycled cans can be made using the same amount of energy it takes to make one new can and recycling just one can, can save as much energy as it takes to power a television for three hours.

Five Hundred Years – Plastic Bottles

Petrochemical products like these never fully biodegrade and the chemicals will remain in the soil.

One to Two Million Years – Glass Jars and Bottles

It could well be that these may last indefinitely. Glass is mainly composed of silica, which is one of the most stable and enduring minerals on the planet. The greatest problem with waste glass is that it is breakable and shards can do serious damage to creatures who eat or lick any food or drink residues.

And Even Longer – Batteries

While the thin metal casings break down eventually, the chemicals inside such as zinc, lead and mercury stay in the ground and can be extremely toxic.