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IBC Coronavirus Update - 19 June 2020

Published19th June 2020

The Council is issuing an updated statement on its response to Coronavirus every Friday. This is the 14th such statement.

Each of these statements has three sections – as follows:

  • A short summary of key items
  • All decisions that have been made this week – and key new information about Council services (etc)

  • A brief comment from the Council Leader – or in his absence – his Deputy.

In addition, we also publish - at the same time – three additional documents:

A short summary of key items 

  • With many ‘non-essential’ shops reopening this week, town centre footfall has seen a 44% increase from last week. On Monday 15th 9,248 people were recorded on town centre monitors, compared to 6,413 people last Monday (8th June) and approximately 13,500 people on pre-lockdown Monday’s in March.
  • The Council’s Crown car park reopened this week with a free parking offer. On Monday 15th, 527 cars were parked in Crown, compared to 733 cars on the same Monday last year. On Tuesday 16th, 517 cars were parked in Crown, compared to 846 cars on the same Tuesday last year.

  • This week we opened up the toilets in the Corn Exchange Limelight bar for use by the public. On Monday 15th, 83 people made use of the provision and on Tuesday 16th, 75 people did.
  • The Council has received 86 applications from businesses eligible for Discretionary Grants of up to £10,000. The 8 categories of businesses that can apply were announced last month – the closing date for applications is Friday 26th June 2020.

  • The Christchurch Mansion Tea Room has re-opened (via the serving window / hatch facing into the Park) and is serving pre-made food for takeaway only and ice cream in tubs not cones.

All decisions that have been made this week – and key new information about Council services (etc)

In response to the challenges of Coronavirus, Ipswich Borough Council’s position has been updated in the following areas this week:

  • Parks: We are keeping our parks and open spaces maintained and safe to allow people to spend time outdoors, including exercise, in groups of up to six people, provided they adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. Christchurch Mansion Tea Room has re-opened this week, serving pre-made food for takeaway only and ice cream in tubs not cones, the courtyard seating area has not been opened and serving is taking place using the serving window facing out into the park. Outdoor gym equipment and our play areas remain closed in accordance with the Government instructions.
  • Town Centre Footfall: The Council has been providing weekly information on town centre footfall data throughout lockdown. That data is contained within the graph back published alongside this statement. With many ‘non-essential’ shops opening for the first time on Monday (15th June) we thought it would be helpful, this week, to publish data for Mondays as well. On the 15th June there were 9,248 different people picked up by our town centre footfall counters. This is a 44% increase on last Monday (the 8th) – at 6,413 people. Pre lockdown Monday figures were around 13,500 people each Monday in early March. The lowest (non-bank holiday) Monday figure during lockdown was 2,546 people. The busiest ever count for a  Monday (in December 2019) saw just over 24,000 people counted.

  • Crown Car Park: Crown Car Park reopened on Monday 15th June – i.e. the same day that many ‘non-essential’ retailers reopened in the Town Centre. The opening hours are 10:30 to 16:30 Monday to Sunday. Use of the car park is free of charge up to and including 3rd July, although any individual stay should not be longer than 5 hours. On Monday 15th, 527 cars were parked in Crown. This compares to 733 cars on the same Monday last year. On Tuesday 16th, 517 cars were parked in Crown. This compares to 846 cars on the same Tuesday last year.

  • Corn Exchange Toilets: We have opened the toilets within the Corn Exchange Limelight Bar for general public use (for the period up until 3rd July 2020. This has been done to support the reopening of ‘non-essential’ shops from 15th June. The toilets will be open 7 days a week 10:30am to 4:30pm, with access to them from the King Street entrance which will be attended by a member of our team – where necessary wheelchair access will be provided through the separate disabled access. It is expected that the staffing and cleaning costs for this can be funded from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, provided by the Government and the European Regional Development Fund. On Monday, we had 83 people and on Tuesday 75 people made use of this toilet provision. Following comments about waiting times, with effect from Wednesday of this week, we made some changes to enable a quicker throughput of people.
  • Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund: The Council has been allocated £1.24m to spend on discretionary grants. It has now formally launched its Policy and applications for grants can now be submitted. The closing date is Friday 26th June 2020. The Policy and the link to the application process is available at: www.ipswich.gov.uk/businessratesgrant. The maximum grant given out will be £10,000. So far (18th June) the Council has received 86 applications for a Discretionary Grant. The types of businesses that can apply are:

    • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces (i.e. that don’t pay business rates themselves). Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators;
    • Regular market traders (i.e. in our case - Ipswich Market traders);
    • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax; and
    • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

 In addition the Council will also make its Fund available to the following types of businesses:

    • The two Street Traders operating in our town centre;
    • The four boats which operate at Ipswich Waterfront within the general criteria for the retail, leisure or hospitality grant, but who didn’t qualify as they pay mooring fees rather than business rates;
    • Independent cafes / bars within larger premises – where the café / bar pays rent to the larger premises occupier / owner) (i.e. rather than being rated separately); and
    • Businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector who had submitted an appeal to the Valuation Office Agency prior to 11th March 2020 – and the appeal has not yet been determined – and the evidence submitted provided a realistic expectation that the premises might be revalued to a rateable value of less than £51,000.
  • Funding from Government: So far, Ipswich Borough Council, has received four payments from Government that relate to the national response to Coronavirus. Two amounts (in total just over £1.4m) support the Council in its response to Coronavirus – i.e. the Council has the ability to choose how to spend it. The other two amounts can only be used to pass on to others - nearly £26.5m for the Council to pay to business as grants and just over £1.5m to cover the Ipswich element of the Hardship Fund – primarily for those receiving working age Local Council Tax Support. Additionally, an allowance of £5,250 has been made by Government (that the Council will draw down) to cover rough sleeping service costs. The claim was completed on Wednesday 6th May for the full amount. On 24th May 2020 the Government launched the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund. Ipswich Borough Council has been allocated (but not yet received) £120,858 from that Fund. The Council has now received £32,450 from Government via ‘Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Support Funding’ and has already passed this money on – as required – to our BID – Ipswich Central Management Ltd.
  • Sources of External Funding for Groups: Anglian Water has created The Anglian Water Positive Difference Fund. The first part of the fund is open to constituted community organisations throughout Suffolk, who are supporting vulnerable, isolated and older people at this time. To be eligible for funding, projects must support those who are considered high risk (including those with pre-existing medical conditions and older people over 60) or those in vulnerable circumstances and help to: Support their ongoing needs, ensuring their health and mental well-being is maintained; reduce isolation and vulnerability during any isolation period that may arise as a result of the threat of coronavirus; or, help to make sure people remain safely connected with the outside world during this time. For more information and to make an application go to: www.suffolkcf.org.uk/grants/anglian-water-positive-difference-fund/.

  • Arts / Cultural Performances:  A decent summary of arts and cultural activities going on in the town during these challenging times can be found at: www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/events-activities/online-and-streamed-events/arts-activities/. Each week we will draw attention to one organisation and what they are making publicly available online. Eastern Angles, www.easternangles.co.uk, have been delivering online masterclasses covering writing and directing, and have commissioned playwrights for Paines Plough’s Come To Where I Am: Peterborough; a series of four plays created in lockdown, performed by the writers.  In addition, EA has been supporting associate company ‘tusk’ to produce an online version of Baba Yaga for primary schools, complete with a resource pack, and are also promoting Standby Theatre’s activity pack for ages 14+. The Eastern Angles team are looking at ways to safely produce their annual alternative to panto with a socially distanced audience.

Council buildings [including the Regent Theatre, the Town Hall & Corn Exchange, Shop Mobility, Swimming Pools & Sports Centres, the Tourist Information Centre and visitor centres in Christchurch and Holywells parks, and the Museum, Art Gallery and Christchurch Mansion] will remain closed to the public (other than for point 6 above) until such time as the Government restrictions are lifted and we have the ability to re-open them safely. We are working with the promoters of shows that were due to be at the Regent and Corn Exchange to find new dates for shows in the autumn and beyond and will continue to contact ticket holders as these arrangements are made. We have not been accepting bookings for any of our venues to hire until at least the end of June and this will remain our position for now.

Future Communications and Contacting the Council

The Borough Council intends to issue a detailed statement every Friday while communicating more regularly about individual issues and services.

If you wish to contact the Council about anything please contact us via www.ipswich.gov.uk or 01473 432000 rather than visit Grafton House or the Customer Services Centre).

We know that these statements will generate a number of customer queries but we ask you to use the ‘contact us’ form on our website.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor David Ellesmere, should be available to comment if there are any media enquiries – he can be contacted via the Council’s Press Office (press.office@ipswich.gov.uk).

A brief comment from the Leader of the Council

“This week has seen the re-opening of many non-essential shops with increased footfall across the town and particularly the Town Centre.

“I am pleased that the re-opening has gone well. Hundreds of people have taken advantage of our Crown Car Park free offer and good use is being made of the additional public toilets we are providing in the Corn Exchange. Our pedestrianised streets give plenty of room for social distancing – even with queues for some shops – and this has been added to with the daytime pedestrianisation of Upper Brook Street.

“In these difficult times, local retailers need our support wherever we’re able to give it. I hope we can all play our part by doing more of our shopping locally. Together we can help our town centre recover.

“Public safety remains paramount. Even though we are moving towards a new “normality” we still need to keep following the rules: maintain our distance, wear a face covering where appropriate and wash our hands regularly.”

Councillor David Ellesmere, Leader, Ipswich Borough Council

 

Issued by the IBC press office (press.office@ipswich.gov.uk).