As we move to a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic, I want to express my thanks for all your hard work and dedication over the last few challenging months.

The Spring edition of NALC’s flagship magazine, LCR, is now available to read, for free, online so, you can now scroll through the issue to study must-read information and practical advice.

Included in this issue is a special section related to the coronavirus

Please find attached the Parish & Partner Briefing - COVID-19 Special from Stratford-on-Avon District Council.

Please feel free to forward this e-newsletter to anyone who you think may be interested.

SDC Parish & Partners Briefing May 2020 - Issue 35

The Government has launched a major effort to tackle loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing. The plan will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.

Warwickshire CAVA have produced a web page outlining a variety of funding opportunities that have sprung up to help voluntary and community groups deal with implications of COVID-19.  It is worth checking whether any are applicable to Local Councils.

Parish councils across the County are doing some fantastic work in engaging with those in their communities and helping to organise teams of volunteers etc. As matters to some extent ‘settle down’, one or two are, understandably, beginning to reflect upon some of the implications of actions undertaken with appropriate urgency which may have not paid heed to nominal Data Protection requirements.

Virtual Meetings and Co-option

Assuming that these are casual vacancies which have been duly notified to the Borough/District Council, and that the usual notices have been posted explaining that, if ten or more electors want an election they should inform the elections officer to that effect, and that none have done so within the 14 day period, then co-option can proceed.

Absent Councillors, and the ‘Six Month Rule’

The view of the NALC Legal Team is that an overt refusal on the part of a parish council as a body to engage with the concept of virtual meetings, and thereby effectively to suspend meetings until such time as physical gatherings can again take place, will not provide grounds to absolve individual councillors from their responsibility to attend meetings.

Today, NALC has published its report on local (parish and town) council elections after undertaking the first national research of its kind.

The purpose of the report was to undertake extensive research and collect a pool of data that gives a better picture of the elections in 2019 that will help NALC shape future campaigns and create a range of resources to help local councils and county associations.

As an employer, if the Council provides homeworking expenses for your employees, you have certain tax, National Insurance and reporting obligations.

The Council as the employer has the same health and safety responsibilities for staff working from home as they do for those in an office. The Health and Safety Executive has useful information that could inform your approach.

NALC’s message is that providing appropriate measures are in place, such as safety wear, gloves, hand sanitisers and social distancing being maintained, there is no reason why works should not continue.

NALC have created a Coronavirus case studies publication. It includes the great work of 3 Parishes in the County.

Remember to email me about the work you are doing so we can keep key partners informed.

Please review the relevant documents below.

A few weeks ago, Warwickshire County Council asked groups to respond to a questionnaire so we could build a directory of the community-led support groups, many of them informal groups, that have emerged in response to COVID-19. These groups are providing invaluable local support to their communities.

A new initiative introduced by the Post Office is being rolled out to banks.  Anyone who cannot leave home may be able to ask a trusted friend or volunteer to withdraw cash at any Post Office using a single-use voucher. The Post Office scheme is being extended and offered to all banks, building societies and credit unions.

NALC needs your help to gather evidence on the financial impact of the coronavirus on local councils.  This information is vital to our representation to the government on the loss of income to local councils during these difficult times, and the need for a tailored financial support package for the local council sector.

The short survey includes questions on precept, staffing and income so it would be helpful to have this data to hand when completing the survey.  Please help us to help you by

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The County All Party Parliamentary Group (County APPG) is undertaking an independent inquiry into the decline of rural bus services in county and rural areas with the County Councils Network (CCN).

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has launched a £5 million Fund to help smaller charitable organisations affected by the impact of Covid-19. The funding aims to help them to continue to deliver much needed support to communities across the UK.

A message to employees of Serco UK.

Many colleagues will be feeling anxious as Coronavirus continues to affect the entire globe, but we may also be feeling inspired by the acts of kindness which are being seen in every community. 

from Warwickshire County Council

Things to be aware of

We have been made aware of an increase in fraud and scamming attempts during Covid-19. We ask all staff to be aware of the risks both for themselves and also for members of our community, friends and family who may be more vulnerable, as well as the risks to the Council.  Some examples include: