30 March 2020

Media round-up for Monday, March 30, 2020

This round-up is intended to keep the media briefed on the COVID-19 impact on Council services across Aberdeenshire. The public can keep up to date with changes online at https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/featured-items/coronavirus-covid-19/

Grampian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Assistance Hub

A new website and phoneline launched today (Mon), providing people across Grampian with information on how to access social, practical and emotional support on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The new Assistance Hub went live this morning, pulling together links to the latest advice from a range of partners including all three local authorities, Police, Health, Red Cross, volunteers and community information. It is a site for anyone in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray, with information for residents and businesses alike.

The website address is www.GCAH.org.uk or call 0808 196 3384 (8am-8pm, 7 days a week).

Educational psychology support by telephone
The Council's educational psychology team have developed a new model for offering support during this difficult time.
They are offering a phone service for parents/carers or professionals who would like to talk through any education or wellbeing concerns about a child or young person. The phone line will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 3pm, starting this week. 
You can get in touch by calling 01779 403721. If you would prefer for the team to call you back, please email eps@aberdeenshire.gov.uk with your name and number.

Stay at home guidance – parks and open spaces

During this time of restrictions it is important that we all stay active, for our physical health and mental wellbeing.
Recreation outside is an important element of this, but it is essential that each of us practise good social distancing while outside. Government guidance is that you should not travel to access the outdoors and your time spent outside exercising should be done close to your home rather than travelling elsewhere.
Currently, across our local communities, playground equipment is closed. This decision was taken to reduce the potential for transference of the virus from these multi-touch surfaces. As the playgrounds are closed, the equipment is no longer subject to safety inspections.
If you live close to a play park, the open space is still open to you, but please do not allow young ones to play on the equipment. Please also observe social distancing as guided by government. 
Aberdeenshire’s landscape and natural beauty is exceptional, and facilities, including our country parks, are there to help residents and visitors enjoy these benefits.  However, during this unprecedented time, these facilities are essentially ‘out of bounds’ to anyone who does not live within short walking distance. Please do not travel to these locations. Once the current restrictions are lifted we will welcome you back with open arms, but at the moment we ask that you comply with the national guidance and stay at home.
Unfortunately, it has been necessary to close all public toilets throughout our communities, including country parks, so please be aware of that as you plan your activities out of doors.
Your help and understanding is essential at this challenging time. It is only by us all working together, following government advice, that we can defeat this, save lives and protect the NHS.

Right to Repair scheme suspended

The Right to Repair scheme is currently suspended due to Coronavirus (Covid-19). Please be assured the housing service is doing everything it can to complete repairs as soon as possible.

There have been a number of queries about Housing Repairs staff continuing to work in what is a challenging time. The Housing Service remains committed to undertaking emergency repairs and fulfilling our homelessness duty.

There is clear guidance from the Scottish Government that we must continue to provide an emergency repairs service and maintain a statutory homelessness service, with properties predominantly being allocated to meet that need. In order to fulfil this duty we require to turn around properties as and when they are ‘void’. We have risk assessed the situation and continue to monitor the risks involved in turning around void properties. 

We have also provided guidance to those who undertake these works. The guidance provides advice to ensure that they do not travel together or share a vehicle at any point. We have advised how vehicles should be disinfected and cleaned. We are also working to ensure that all operatives work either in properties on their own or in separate rooms and maintain social distancing measures.

The workforce within the housing repairs team and contractors undertaking works for the housing service is diminishing and with difficulties arising in obtaining materials, our ability to undertake repairs and upgrades to homes is being affected.

Housing repairs will focus on providing cover for emergency repairs. Please be assured that we value your safety and will ensure that staff and contractors with any signs of or exposure to the virus will be isolating and will not come to your homes and we would encourage you to inform the housing service if your household is affected. Thank you for your continued support, understanding and patience.

Emergency repairs

The housing repairs team is currently carrying out only emergency repairs. To request an emergency repair, please call 03456 081203.

Housing Improvement Programme update

All upgrade and improvement works have been stopped until further notice, except for any emergency repairs. Housing Improvement Programme (HIP) contractors have been asked not to start work in any new addresses or undertake any new work where they are currently working.

Contractors will complete all addresses currently being worked on, the majority of which were completed by Friday, March 27. Homes will be left wind and watertight with all internal upgrades (kitchen, bathroom, heating) complete with the exception of decoration and any floor finishes. The team will make sure that once things are back to normal that the contractors return to fully finish the upgrade including any decoration and flooring where appropriate.