"We have been busy testing our business continuity plans and prioritising those services that our communities need the most," says Cllr Eileen Lintill, Leader of Chichester District Council.

"This means that some of our services will be reduced or stopped, to allow us to move additional staff into critical areas. All of our staff are ready to do whatever is required to support our local communities - whether supporting colleagues in other teams, or supporting the vulnerable in our communities.

"We know, just like our colleagues in the rest of the public sector, that we have a big role to play - and we will do whatever it takes to support those most in need."

The council is focusing its efforts on the following areas:

  • Supporting the vulnerable
  • Housing
  • Supporting businesses
  • Council tax and benefits support
  • Collecting people's rubbish

The council has developed a dedicated coronavirus area on its website, which provides updates on the status of its services and provides advice to residents and businesses. This can be found at www.chichester.gov.uk/coronavirus  

"We have taken the decision to close our reception area at East Pallant House from Tuesday for the safety of our customers and staff," adds Eileen.

"Unless it's absolutely urgent, we would encourage people to not to come to our buildings and instead use our online services and phone lines. Once the reception area closes, we will put arrangements in place for any emergency appointments that may be required.

"The majority of our services are currently still running, but in certain cases, there may be some changes to the way they are delivered. Services such as The Novium Museum and Elections are not being delivered at the moment due to the guidance we have received from Government, and so staff from these and other service areas are now supporting our critical services."

The Government has announced a package of support to help businesses and residents, some of which the council will be asked to provide when the funding is released.

"We are updating our information for communities as fast as we can, but we are still waiting for the finer details on some of the measures announced," continues Eileen.

"We know how important this. We are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure we are ready to respond just as soon as the guidance and funding from the government reaches us. This includes support to businesses and those most in need.

"Those businesses that are eligible for business rate relief will be re-billed as soon as possible. We are waiting for further guidance from government and are looking at the quickest way we can do this.

"All of this support is in addition to all of the normal services and schemes we provide to help our communities.

"The situation is changing rapidly and so we would encourage people to visit our dedicated coronavirus web pages, which are being updated daily. As part of this we have included Frequently Asked Questions for our critical services, so that people can find the information they need as quickly as possible. We also want to remind people that the majority of our services can be accessed online at www.chichester.gov.uk but if someone does not have online access, then we would advise them to call 01243 785166.

"We are lucky to have such generous and caring communities and I believe that by working closely together we will be able to provide the support that our most vulnerable need. We must also support our local businesses in whatever way we can and I want to stress that we all have a role to play in supporting them when this crisis is over.

"I'd like to take this opportunity not only to thank our staff at Chichester District Council, but all of our public sector colleagues who are going above and beyond to support our communities - especially our amazing NHS. I also want to thank our wonderful local volunteers, who have already put themselves forward to help. We would advise people who want to volunteer to contact Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester (VAAC) . We are also working closely with West Sussex County Council, which is co-ordinating a volunteer hub to support communities and volunteering further. Further details on this work will be released shortly.

"Finally, I want to encourage everyone to follow the guidance issued by Public Health England. We all need to play our part in this crisis and this is one of the ways everyone can do this."

Date of release: 20 March 2020

Reference: 3967