Published Thursday, 19th March 2020
A message from Council Leader, Cllr Mark Brunt, on the Council’s response to Coronavirus - 19 March 2020.
We understand that this is an uncertain and challenging time for many people. We, at Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, would like to reassure you that we have been working hard to ensure we can continue to deliver essential services and support our local communities as best as we can. To do this, we are refocusing our other work so we can prioritise this.
We have taken the decision to close the Harlequin Theatre for now and to cancel some of our key events. This decision was not taken lightly, but as a responsible council, it is the right course of action following latest Government advice and in the interests of public safety. We have a duty of care to our communities, staff and councilors. We are currently looking at repurposing the Harlequin as a community response hub to co-ordinate support to residents in need.
The borough's three community centres (currently run by an external provider but soon to come back under our management) are also closed. Whilst again this is the right thing to do, we are very aware of the impact this could have on a vulnerable group of residents. We are contacting all members of the centres to understand their individual circumstances and ensure their essential needs of food, medicines and emotional support are met.
Our Town Hall currently remains open but we ask that visitors only come if their situation is urgent or it is unavoidable (e.g. homelessness). For those who do need to come, please make sure you follow the latest safety advice from the Government around isolating, social distancing and handwashing.
We know that many people are already helping to support their communities during this time. It really is fantastic to see such community spirit in our borough. We are helping to coordinate a volunteer response and to protect the vulnerable people in our community. We need to ensure this is managed carefully and that the necessary safeguarding checks are made.
If you are an individual and would like to volunteer please register at Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead or one of the local community groups in your area.
If you are a voluntary group that already exists, or has recently set up in response to the current crisis, please let our Community Partnerships Team know what you are doing so we can build a full picture and offer support if needed.
We are aware that some households may be financially impacted and there is a risk that some may experience financial hardship. We will be looking to help these people as well, including expanding our Council Tax hardship scheme.
It is a very tough time for many local businesses, and we are focusing on ensuring that businesses receive the business rate relief announced by the Government as soon as possible before 1 April. We are in the process of understanding the availability of business grants announced by the Government and will be in touch with businesses directly as soon as we know.
Please rest assured that we are doing, and will continue to do, all we can to maintain our essential services as well as support our communities. We are in challenging and uncertain times, but I am confident that by pulling together as a borough and supporting our most vulnerable, we will get through the coming weeks and months.
If you know people who do not have access to the internet, please do share this information with them.
For the latest health information for the public see the Coronavirus (COVID-19) page on the NHS website.
Cllr Mark Brunt, Council Leader