Monday 17th August 2020
Due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are providing weekly email updates for residents to let you know about the latest information we have and any changes to local services that may be affected.
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You can check the latest information on our website at any time by going to https://www.rotherham.gov.uk/coronavirus
Rotherham stays off Government’s Covid-19 ‘watchlist’
The latest seven-day infection rate figures show that covid-19 infections in Rotherham have slightly increased to 14.7 per 100,000, although this is still lower than the local authority areas on the Government’s watchlist, which Rotherham was removed from two weeks ago..
There were 40 positive cases in Rotherham last week.
Although we are no longer on watchlist, the rate of infection in the borough is still higher than we would like, and we would encourage residents to remain alert. Many local authority areas have seen significant rises in cases recently which is why we are asking you to continue to rigerously follow the guidelines and help keep Rotherham open.
In order to tackle our infection rate, we are actively encouraging anyone with symptoms, however mild, or with any cause for concern, to get tested as soon as possible.
Test appointments can be arranged online or by calling 119. People can order a home-testing kit or attend the drive-through site at Midland Road, Masborough, or the walk-in site at Forge Island. Appointments are preferred at Forge Island and face-coverings must be worn.
Anyone receiving a positive test result, or if they have symptoms, must self-isolate at home for 10 days from the start of symptoms. Anyone they have been in contact with should also self-isolate for 14 days, even if they get a negative test result as they may still be incubating the infection.
People testing positive will be asked to provide contact details of anyone they know they have been in close contact with so that the NHS Track and Trace team can get in touch with them to advise them to self-isolate. Advice and support for anyone with concerns about self-isolating is available through the Rotherham Community Hub.
Government u-turns on exam grades
The Government and Ofqual, the exam regulator, has announced today that teacher predicted grades will now be used both for A Level and GCSE results.
This will be instead of the much-criticised system of applying an algorithm to the predicted grades which took into account additional factors such as past performance of individual schools.
The news will come as huge relief to many local schools, teachers and parents, but especially to the young people who weren’t given the opportunity to take exams this year because of covid-19.
Following A-Level results day last week, our Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Gordon Watson joined a number of Head Teachers in Rotherham in expressing frustration and anger at the way and extent to which many students in our borough saw their assessed A-Level grades downgraded.
Libraries pop-up in parks and playgrounds re-open!
Look out for our pop-up libraries in local parks over the next two weeks.
Our Libraries team is inviting families to come along and find out about this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, listen to a story, take away a craft activity and pick up a free gift, courtesy of Booktrust.
We know children are really missing their library visits at the moment and we hope that having a presence in parks over the summer holidays will help to engage children and families with reading and excite them about books.
Clifton Park water splash
Unfortunately the design and layout of the water splash at Clifton Park means it just isn’t possible to re-open it within current guidance. We have looked at every possible option to open, but it is simply not possible to do so and keep you and your children safe. So, regrettably it will therefore not be opening for the remainder of this year.
However, there’s still plenty to do at Clifton Park; free playground, amusement park, mini golf, acres of fields to picnic, run around, ride your bike and not forgetting the museum which hopefully will re-open in September.
Meanwhile our parks teams is continuing to work flat out to re-open playgrounds across the borough.
Since last weekend we’ve carried out full maintenance checks and put up Covid-19 safety signage at 38 playgrounds across the borough and we’re working hard to get the rest open in the next week or so.
If you are visiting one of the re-opened playgrounds, please make sure you follow the guidance displayed on the signs about using them safely.
To ensure young people with special educational needs or disabilities get access to the playgrounds, they are reserved for their use only between 10am and 11am daily.
You can get the up-to-date list of re-opened playgrounds on our Parks facebook page. If your favourite isn’t yet re-opened, keep checking back – there will be daily updates tour list.
More venues now allowed to re-open
A number of measures to ease the Covid-19 lockdown took effect at the weekend, but penalties for not wearing a face covering are set to increase.
With effect from Saturday 15th August, the following measures were be eased:
- Bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos to reopen for the first time as well as indoor play and soft play centres which comply with new Covid-19 Secure guidelines
- Beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas, barbers across England will be able to offer all close contact services and treatments
- Wedding receptions for up to 30 people to resume – and indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will recommence
- Sports and business events pilots to resume
However, fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings where mandated will be significantly increased in the coming weeks, up to a maximum of £3,200. And on the spot fines for hosting or facilitating illegal gatherings of more than 30 people will be introduced.
Next phase of annual canvass starts this week
The next phase of the annual elections canvass will start this week.
Elections staff will be posting out the next batch of canvass letters on Wednesday to around 85,000 properties – making it the largest phase of the operation.
The letters will be addressed to ‘The Occupier’ as they are about all the eligible residents at a property, not an individual person.
Residents receiving this letter, which should arrive by Friday or Saturday, need to check the information is correct. If it is correct, they don’t need to do anything further. If the information we hold needs updating, then they must respond by following the instructions in the letter – the quickest and easiest way is online.
Concerns about dog mess, litter or anti-social behaviour?
The Council wants your views on renewing Public Space Protections Orders (PSPOs), which give Police and Council enforcement officers powers to tackle anti-social behaviour across Rotherham.
There are two PSPOs in Rotherham due to expire in October, which the Council would like to continue.
The first covers the Town Centre and Clifton Park and the new order aims to renew the regulations set out in October 2017. A second PSPO covers the whole of the Rotherham Borough and makes failing to pick up after your dog an offence.
Although the orders have been effective in reducing anti-social behaviour, the Council still believes they are required to deal with on-going problems and in response to complaints from the public.
Rotherham Council is carrying out a public consultation to determine the views of the general public and other interested bodies on whether the measures contained in the PSPOs are still supported and should continue.
You can share your views on and experiences of the issues covered in the order by responding to the consultation.
Getting in touch…
During this challenging time please, where possible and appropriate, use our online services rather than calling via telephone. We’re receiving a high level of calls daily and want to ensure we’re able to answer urgent calls regarding vulnerable residents and our front line services.