Coronavirus Update

A message from Jeff Harris, Surrey County Councillor

Dear Residents,

I refrained from writing over the past week or so as there wasn’t too much to say, but like buses, several things came along at the same time..

Some of the following relates directly to coronavirus, but I thought I’d add a couple of (what I think are) interesting facts and updates.

To avoid confusion:

The new Stay Alert message was announced and although little has changed, this is summed up by six key things which aim to help control the virus. This means you must:

  1. Stay at home as much as possible
  2. Work from home if you can
  3. Limit contact with other people
  4. Keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart where possible)
  5. Wash your hands regularly – remember TWENTY SECONDS!
  6. And if you or anyone in your home has symptoms then don’t leave the house.

*Remember medical advice 111, non-medical: Surrey County Council 0300 200 1008 or Reigate and Banstead BC 01737 276 000

Green Waste: Although the service is still suspended, it may resume, I’m told in July, depending on circumstances. But the Re-cycling Centre at Earlswood and Epsom are both open, currently seven days a week but only for garden waste and non-recyclable black bagged waste. Anything else will be turned away as the Operators have nowhere to send items for re-cycling, such as fridges, etc, until the re-cycling companies ‘chain’ re-opens.

As a matter of interest just in the last TWO weeks over 3,500 tonnes of additional waste has been collected by local ‘Binmen’ (and women), across the county. Almost THREE tonnes extra a day in Reigate and Banstead.

Many, but not, all public carparks are open, please check before travelling, and if they’re full, or still closed (Epsom Downs is still closed at the time of writing!) BUT – They are getting crowded, so please don’t cause obstruction by parking stupidly-go somewhere else…

Care Homes and PPE: Sadly, we are seeing a lot in the media about the growing number of deaths in Care Homes and the figures for Surrey are amongst the highest in the country. But we also have probably the highest number of ‘Care Beds’ in the country – 13,500, with about 90% of those being privately run, with Reigate and Banstead having disproportionately more than all the other areas. Each death is a person and tragic, but hopefully these numbers put it into perspective.

The County Council working with NHS, military and voluntary sector have now supplied over SEVEN MILLION items of PPE to Care Homes and other organisations across the county. These are additional to the ones used in hospitals in the County.

Assistance during the Pandemic – Many people and businesses are feeling the financial challenges growing over this period. There are various funds available and both Reigate and Banstead, and Surrey County Councils can give advice, and help in how to apply, for example there’s money for Charities and other Community Social enterprises available via the National Lottery website.

However for individuals facing enormous financial stress, whether its family, friends, neighbours, or us personally, again there is help, guidance and assistance out there-please encourage people, however proud they are, to just ask. Banks, Building Societies, Insurance Companies, Councils, Social Landlords etc have all agreed to do what they can…..So don’t be too proud to ask. If in doubt call one of the helplines above.

Business as Usual – Life in Lockdown continues for Councils and Surrey is managing quite well despite hundreds of staff seconded elsewhere to help everyone get through. You’ll recall that I sit on the Corporate Parenting Board which governs how we look after children in council care- almost 1,000 of them spread far and wide across the country. Many have special needs and the work of Foster Carers and Social workers has been far more demanding during this period, trying to manage these children’s needs, isolation, social-distancing, hygiene, etc, on top of their routine obligations. They are really an amazing bunch of people and often forgotten. By the way, if you’ve ever thought about fostering, give me a call and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Average Speed Cameras along the A217 -I t’s just on two years since I supported the introduction of AVC’s on the A217. I’m often asked ‘Do they work?’ and ‘How many get caught?’……..Well the answer is YES they do, without doubt. Accidents have dropped significantly, and every stretch from the County Boundary to the M25 has seen a drop in speeds, in places by an average 9-10mph. They certainly work for the overwhelming majority of drivers. As for how many get caught (Quiz night question?) About 16-20,000 vehicles a day use the A217 and only TEN a day (on average) get ‘caught’ going fast enough to warrant proceedings.

To come – Next month will see an entirely new way (and far better in my honest opinion) way of reporting Highways issues, seeing progress and looking at plans, but more of that later.

In the meantime, please remember Stay Safe-Stay Home ,unless there’s no choice, and look after your neighbours, because of course we are all someone else’s neighbour.

With my best wishes and grateful thanks

Jeff Harris
County Councillor

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