Council service provision – an update
March 25, 2020
A statement from the Head of Northumberland County Council Neighbourhood Services:
In line with national government advice we have reverted to a position today where we will only be delivering critical services for the next three weeks, though obviously if the PM extends the current control measures this could go on for a lot longer.
The critical services in Neighbourhood Services are refuse collection, burials, cremations, fleet maintenance and a limited aspect of street cleansing. All non essential services, including grass cutting, garden waste and bulky waste collections have been suspended. All 12 of our Household Waste Recovery Centres have also been closed as from Tuesday 24 March as they were attracting large numbers for users many of whom were simply ignoring the social distancing requirements putting themselves and others at risk, this behaviour then coupled with the PM’s announcement on stringent travel restrictions necessitated their immediate closure.
We are continuing to provide the household waste and recycling collections and trade waste collections from those businesses that are still open as critical services and where necessary will need to redeploy staff at short notice (including staff from other parts of the Council) to assist in delivering these critical services.
The street cleansing service will consist of litter bin emptying and litter picking any overflow from full bins as well as teams that can respond to daytime emergencies (RTAs, broken glass, dead animal removal etc.) These teams will also have sufficient capacity to maintain routine cleansing of known hotspot areas for broken glass, used needles etc. This will not be a full completion of normal schedules and will not include any mechanical sweeping.
Almost all grass cutting has been suspended with some small scale exceptions. For example we will continue to maintain cemeteries as part of our burial service to show our care for the bereaved and ensure that we can provide a dignified funeral service.
This Coronavirus clearly constitutes a Force Majeure event, beyond the control of the County Council and as a result we will inevitably be unable to meet the service standards agreed in our partnership agreements.
As stated yesterday we will keep a record of the impact it has had on our partnership arrangements so that we can jointly review this once we are past the crisis.
Obviously keeping ourselves, our employees and the wider public safe will continue to be our primary focus during this time and I hope that you and your staff are all doing well during these unprecedented times.
Further details about the impact of the new restrictions on other Council services as well as some new initiatives to help support our communities during this difficult time will be made imminently and all of the Town and Parish Councils will be updated on these.