It's vital that we all play our part to support our local businesses and help them to recover. I'm pleased to say that we have been allocated a further £173,000 as part of the Government's Welcome Back Fund. This money will enable us to continue delivering a whole range of activities that will support local businesses and help people to stay safe. You can find out more about our support local campaign on our support local webpage.

I'm also pleased that we are welcoming the next group of businesses into our pop up shop scheme from 16 September. Using local shops owned by the council, the initiative offers affordable temporary premises for smaller enterprises. This gives local entrepreneurs the opportunity to trial business concepts and trade in a high street location without the commitment or cost of a longer-term lease.

We had a very busy cabinet meeting this week. One of the items we discussed was the further options we can take to deter encampments on council parks and land, which have caused distress to those living nearby. We have agreed to look at a rolling programme of improvements to try and make the community spaces we manage more secure. We are meeting with residents and partners in the recently affected areas to gather their views on a series of options over the next couple of weeks. We'll keep you posted on this work as it progresses.

We also agreed that we should introduce a local connection test for those people wanting to buy a home through the Government's First Homes Scheme. The scheme is designed to help local first time buyers and key workers onto the property ladder by offering homes at a discount of 30%, compared to the market price. We know how hard it is for local people to afford to stay in the area and so we believe it is really important we introduce this and prioritise those with a local connection. What is great is that the local connection test will apply for the first three months of the sale, and will also apply on any future sales of the property, forever. This means that these homes will continue to meet the needs of local people into the future. It is likely that these will homes will start to appear over the next couple of years.  

Housing support continues to be a top priority for us - with many new initiatives being introduced. We are especially doing huge amounts to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping and I'm pleased to say that we have successfully bid for £323,978 from the Government to support us with this work. I hope to tell you more about the range of things we are doing in a future district dispatch.

You can read more about all of the projects I have mentioned in more detail and many more on our latest news page or sign up to our email newsletter.

Finally, please do continue to keep yourself and others safe by continuing to follow Government guidance. This includes: regularly washing your hands; wearing face coverings in crowded places and on public transport; and taking a PCR test if you develop symptoms. You are also advised to use the free lateral flow tests regularly.

Best wishes

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council