Hundreds of people put themselves forward to help. This is where we are really lucky in the Chichester District - we truly have some incredible individuals who always go above and beyond to help others.

Last week, I asked people to get in touch to tell us about some of the amazing people who are volunteering and making a difference in our communities. One of the groups nominated for recognition was Chichester Area Talking News (CATN), which has been making a huge difference during the pandemic by producing a regular recorded round-up of local news and events for around 400 blind and visually impaired listeners in West Sussex. Normally, a group of volunteers would record updates in the studio and then copy them into memory sticks which are sent by post to the group's listeners. When the lockdown began, this was no longer possible. Realising that their news programme would be even more important at this time of increased isolation, five of the volunteers from the group go together and worked out how to create a regular news programme which could be accessed online. This has proved to be really popular with their listeners - and has provided a real lifeline for those who have not had direct support of loved ones, friends or neighbours. Thank you to David Bathurst, Caroline Aston, John Holloway, Colin Jenner and Helen Pinn - the five volunteers who developed this new approach and who are making such a difference to so many lives in such challenging times. You are all amazing!

If there's a volunteer you would like us to thank please get in touch. It could be a neighbour, a local charity or even a friend. You can do this by contacting us through our social media channels, or emailing publicrelations@chichester.gov.uk As a council, we are very lucky to work in partnership with so many charities and voluntary groups, who make such a difference under normal circumstances, let alone now. Thank you to all of you!

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen an increase in the amount of people visiting our coastal area. As a council we cannot enforce social distancing, but we have introduced signage and our Community Wardens, Foreshores Officers and Civil Enforcement Officers have been closely monitoring the area. We know that people are concerned about parking and so we have boosted parking patrols in our coastal areas. Please respect our staff and make sure that you observe social distancing measures when approaching them for help. If you need to report an incident involving anti-social behaviour, please call 101. If you arrive somewhere that is busy, please do not put yourself and others at risk by adding to the crowds.

We are currently looking at how we can support our local businesses as they reopen. Our officers have been out our towns and city to assess what signage will be required and to look at what further measures may have to be introduced. These proposals have been sent to the relevant town or city council and the ward member for their feedback and involvement in this process. You may have seen that we have already introduced signage in our coastal areas; and our parks and gardens. We are also sharing social distancing signage designs with our local businesses and community groups, which can be downloaded for free. These can be found at https://www.chichester.gov.uk/businesssupportandadvice

This week, we are launching the next stage of the business rate grant scheme. £1.8 million of government funding is now available to support small businesses in the Chichester District, which was previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. This additional funding is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. The new scheme prioritises businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. Businesses must be small - with less than 50 employees - and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restriction measures. There will be three levels of grant payments, with the maximum amounting to £25,000. Anyone who feels that they may qualify for this new funding can apply by visiting https://www.chichester.gov.uk/businessratesmarch2020.

Please take care.

Best wishes

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council

Date posted: 2 June 2020