Over the past few weeks, we have been highlighting the measures that our businesses have put in place to keep you safe. Some of them have even created videos, taking you through all of the work they have been doing in preparation for reopening and what you can expect to see. You can read about these case studies on our social media sites and also on our Support Local pages

To support local businesses, we are also offering free parking on Saturday and Sundays in our Avenue de Chartres car park in Chichester; as well as offering one hour's free parking in all council owned car parks (except Westgate Leisure Centre and the Avenue de Chartres car park), when you select two hours on the MiPermit app. Both of these offers are available until 7 September, when they will be reviewed.

As our High Streets start to get busier, we also want to ask for your help. We are currently developing a diverted giving campaign, which encourages people to donate to homeless charities, rather than give money to rough sleepers directly. As this crisis has shown, when rough sleepers accept support, it can make a huge difference to their lives. The majority of people who have accepted accommodation and support during this crisis, have now gone on to more settled accommodation to rebuild their lives - and there are some incredible stories, which we hope to share with you over the coming weeks. This is thanks to the partnership that we have with Stonepillow, the Four Streets Project and HEART. All of these charities, along with our fantastic outreach workers, have done an absolute amazing job throughout this crisis - supporting those who need our help the most.

We're now at a point where we need your help. If you do see someone on the streets, please consider giving to one of these local charities, rather than giving directly. What many people don't realise is that your kindness can actually keep people on the street and prevent rough sleepers from accessing help. This small step will make a big difference, because it will help to transform lives and will support the fantastic work of Stonepillow, Four Streets and HEART. Also, what people don't realise is that not everyone on the streets is homeless. Unfortunately, there are some people who come into the city to beg for money. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between the two.

What we want to assure you is that if someone is rough sleeping the support is there. Our outreach workers are out daily, not only supporting those who have accepted help, but also making sure that anyone who is on the streets are aware of support that is available. As well as providing accommodation and food, those who accept help also have access to a doctor, mental health services, deposits and suitable accommodation. If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping, please let us know by filling in the details at Streetlink . This referral will go directly to our outreach workers, who will attempt to find them and assess their needs.

We look forward to sharing our campaign with you soon. In the meantime, if you do want to donate, you can do so by visiting:

Stonepillow

HEART

Four Streets Project

I'm also pleased to tell you, that despite this pandemic, we are still on track to deliver an additional 17 flats for people who are homeless. We know that this project will help to make a real difference to all of those who find themselves homeless in the district. We hope that work will start onsite later in the year and look forward to telling you more about this over the coming months.

Finally, I want to let you know that we have produced a proposed recovery plan, which has already been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet and it now due to be considered by Full Council on 21 July. The report outlines how we plan to help our communities and businesses recover and get back on their feet; and how we could potentially respond to the financial challenges we are likely to face.

The report asks Full Council to approve the approach, which would focus on four key themes: community and housing recovery; economic recovery; planning, health and environmental protection recovery; and organisational recovery. We have also set up a High Street Recovery and Transformation Group. Within each theme there are a number of options that could potentially be explored and developed. I know that the Observer reported last week that we are exploring the option to leave our Chichester headquarters. I just want you to know that the report and plan have yet to be approved - and so we are not exploring any options at the moment. If the plan is approved, I intend to take you through each theme and the options that are available to us. Our absolute focus is on meeting the needs of our communities and businesses.

Best wishes,

Councillor Eileen Lintill,

Leader, Chichester District Council

Date posted: 8 July 2020