Councillor Helena Maxfield, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing, presented an update report on a number of services within the Committee’s remit that had been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic:
- Work undertaken to ensure town centre visitors feel safe with the reopening post lockdown – the report outlined the various measures undertaken to provide Covid secure town centres including signage, markings to encourage social distancing and provision of hand sanitiser. There had been a number of measures introduced for the market including minimum spacing between stalls and contactless collection of rents. There had been thorough cleansing of the street environments in the main centres and floral displays in place. Partnership working had taken place with the Newcastle Business Improvement District and other agencies including Staffordshire County Council.
- Homelessness, rough sleeping and temporary accommodation, lessons learned – the report outlined how services had adapted to provide for homelessness and rough sleepers. Work was continuing to develop provision for those needing temporary accommodation and to find an alternative way to provide furniture and white goods for those moving into permanent accommodation following the closure of Furniture Mine. The focus of the service was now towards preparing for colder weather and sub-zero temperatures.
- Domestic violence post lockdown – Councillor Maxfield outlined that Police had reported no increase in cases since lockdown. The weekly Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) dealt with more serious cases and had four cases at the time of writing the report with a further four to be considered the following week. The GLOW service was for children and young people and had seen an increase in all areas of its service provision.
Members raised a number of queries and issues as follows:
- Some shops did not have signage relating to Covid secure measures and there was concern that some shoppers did not wear face coverings. Roger Tait advised that signage had been displayed in town centres and Environmental Health Officers had visited some premises to give advice. The Chief Executive pointed out that the Council could not mandate how shops and businesses operated. Members noted that signage could be displayed but it was not the role of shopkeepers to enforce and there was a risk of verbal abuse.
- There was concern about young people gathering in the town centre and it was reported that students had been told that if they did not have a lecture then they were not to be on site. It was recognised that many young people would be from outside the area and may have some anxiety about being in a new town and at a new setting. Members referred to a meeting with the County Council which was going to address these type of issues direct with the college.
- Were specific figures around homelessness available and could they be included in future reports? Councillor Maxfield advised that this was possible and that the current figures were 18 families in accommodation detailed as follows - 1 family in temporary accommodation awaiting to go into private rented accommodation; 1 family in B&B accommodation awaiting transfer to temporary accommodation; 7 families in Copeland; 9 families in lower level supported accommodation and there were 4 rough sleepers who were known to the services.
- Was the situation around Domestic Abuse monitored which Councillor Maxfield confirmed it was.
Resolved: That Cabinet be asked for an update to the next meeting on the following areas:
(a) Work undertaken to ensure town centre visitors feel safe with the reopening post lockdown – update;
(b) Homelessness, rough sleeping and temporary accommodation – post lockdown, current position, how the service is managing during winter months and dealing with sub-zero temperatures; and
(c) Domestic violence services- post lockdown, strategies to reduce Domestic violence, review of the new service, measures to promote sources of help and support (e.g. Members referred to a booklet that they distributed in local places), impact and support for young people affected by Domestic Abuse.