COVID-19 daily update

8 April 2020

What services are still operating and where can I get help?

Our front-line staff deliver essential services such as waste collection and housing repairs including gas, water and electrical emergencies for Oxford City Council, and have to carry on working throughout the lockdown period.

We are currently operating according to the third stage of our business continuity plan, in lockdown mode, in line with government guidelines to protect our staff and you, our community. This means we are only able to carry out essential or emergency work.

Because of the nature of what we do, such as collecting waste and street cleaning, some staff have to be out and about in the city or work at our depots.

Where our staff do have to be outside to serve the community please could you help us to protect their health by following government advice on self-distancing, and be especially careful if they have to enter your home for emergency repairs.  Click here for advice regarding what to do in this situation.

If you would like to join the community of people helping the vulnerable in Oxford, please go to the Oxford Hub Community website.  We are providing support for the Hub using our vehicles and key workers on the ground and I know your support will be welcome.

Information on what services we are still operating in Oxford, information from the City Council and a list of other sources of information are given below.

With best wishes

Simon Howick, MD.

Housing and properties

Routine inspections and home visits following service requests are not being carried out, to protect the public and prevent the spread coronavirus (COVID-19). We are only dealing with emergency repairs in these areas:

  • gas safety and compliance
  • heating
  • electrical safety and compliance 
  • serious structural work, including roof leaks
  • running water, plumbing and toilets
  • disabled adaptions, where it releases a hospital bed.

In the event of an emergency such as one of these described above including heating, flooding, risk of collapse etc, we will attempt to deal with the matter over the phone with landlords or agents as appropriate.

A visit will only be carried out if it is necessary to resolve the issue and we will need to establish the health and vulnerability of the occupiers before visiting.

If you have an emergency relating to one of these services please follow the normal request processes to request emergency property service through Oxford City Council's website.

If a member of your household is self-isolating or is ill with COVID-19 or flu like symptoms, we will still deal with your emergency but ask you to take special steps to protect our staff, which includes making sure you notify us in advance. You can find details of what steps are required on the council's webpage about how services are being run for tenants.

The non-essential services which have had to be stopped for the time being are as follows:

  • fencing
  • kitchen and bathroom work
  • glazing, except for emergency or security repairs
  • non-emergency pest control 
  • responsive repairs such as new doors or windows.

Thank you for your help in understanding that we have to prioritise emergency services for the time being.

Waste collection and parks 

At the moment we are maintaining a normal waste collection and street cleaning service across Oxford.

This includes household waste collection, public litter bins and dog waste bins.

Garden and bulky waste will not be collected for the time being.

Commercial waste collections will continue on a daily basis. However, frequency of collections may reduce over the coming days as businesses close their doors due to the government lockdown.

In order to maintain government recommended social distancing, our operatives won’t be asking you to sign any documentation, and we would ask that you keep a two metre distance from our staff when they are collecting waste from your home, street or premises.

If anyone in your home is self-isolating or has Covid-19 please follow the special instructions to double-bag your waste which can be found on our website.

Public parks

Public parks are open in line with government guidance to enable individuals and households to exercise once a day. However, all communal spaces within the parks such as children’s play areas, football pitches and tennis courts will be closed off.

Our operatives will still be providing essential cleaning and maintenance of public parks and cemeteries including necessary grass cutting and tree management.

Public toilets closures

The majority of public toilets across the city will be closed, including those in parks. However, three public toilets in the city centre will remain open for the time being - these are at Market Street, Gloucester Green and Speedwell Street.

Highways

Only emergency highway repairs will be carried out for the time being. Our vehicle repair centre is operating a reduced service, please go to this page for more information fleet and electric vehicles.

Park & Ride and other car parks

Peartree Park & Ride cwill be closed from Monday 30 March due to buses 500 and 300 ceasing service.  Please use the Oxford Parkway Park & Ride services (formerly Water Eaton) instead.

For essential bus travel to hospitals in Oxford:

  • Stagecoach’s service 700 is running as normal.

For essential bus travel to Oxford City Centre:

  • The Oxford Bus Company’s service 2 is operating from the A4165 Oxford Road by the pedestrian crossing, every 20 minutes
  • Stagecoach service 7 and S5 every half hour.

If you have any questions about the bus or Park and Ride service please email carparks@oxford.gov.uk or call 01865 252489.

Free parking for key workers in Oxford

Under the latest measures agreed by the Government, critical key workers will now be able to use council parking bays without time restriction or charge.

In Oxford this will apply to all on-street parking and open, council-run, car parks including pay and display including Seacourt, Thornhill, Redbridge and Oxford Parkway Park and Ride car parks.

A reminder though that Peartree Park & Ride is closed for the time being.

You can find a list of key workers on gov.uk, it includes health and social care staff, education and childcare workers, other public services, food supply chain, transport and utilities workers.

This includes most of our own front line staff, for example ODS operatives collecting waste and carrying out essential housing repairs.
 
To ensure the public are kept safe and that the roads remain clear for emergency and essential services, on behalf of the City Council ODS will continue to carry out parking enforcement locally. We hope you will understand that this is to keep roads and parking clear for key workers.

Exclusive parking for hospital workers

From 30 March, Oxford University Hospitals staff will have exclusive use of Court Place Farm owned by the City Council.

For further information about parking and public transport changes please go to oxford.gov.uk.

Other essential services

Although most of our services are not operating for the time being, in line with the government guidance, in addition to the essential or emergency services outlined above, the following will still continue:

  • Street cleaning of main shopping areas
  • Work on major construction sites
  • Maintenance of cemeteries and trees
  • Drain jetting
  • Community outreach through the Oxford Hub Community.

Council offices, council tax and business rates

The following information is published on behalf of the City Council:

St Aldgate’s Chambers is closed to members of the public until further notice.

The City Council is aiming to continue to provide effective customer services during this time and you can access council services by visiting the council’s website www.oxford.gov.uk or by calling 01865 249811.

Phone lines are open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays.

Members of the public can also contact the City Council using webchat on the Council’s website, and on the Council’s social media.

If you are worrying about making payments or owe the council money, please use the following contacts:

Council tax and business rates

Those who need to pay council tax or business rates should contact the recovery team on 01865 252856.

Council tenants, garage tenants, or leaseholders

Council tenants, Council garage tenants or leaseholders should contact the Incomes Team on 01865 252880.

Commercial Rent or Sundry Income customers

Commercial Rent or Su0ndry Income customers should contact Incomes on 01865 252863.

Cash and cheque payments

The City Council is no longer accepting cash or cheque payments either in person or in the post. Those who need to make payments should use online payments using the city council website.

Payments can still be made at a PayPoint or Post Office whilst these remain open to the public.

Doing good

Our company mission is to ‘do good’, where we consider the community first in all our decisions, and we’re working with the Oxford Hub so that our front line staff can be used to keep an eye out for people who might need extra help right now. 

We are also asking staff who are unable to work from home, but also not able to do their normal work due to government restrictions, to donate their time to the Oxford Hub or other community schemes.

If you would like to join the community of helpers, you can find more information on this page Oxford Hub community.

New advise about cyber scams during COVID-19 – how to keep safe

The government are relying on emails and text messages as communication channels and we are already seeing scams circulating which have untrustworthy links in them. 

it is highly likely that a new wave of scam emails, calls and text messages claiming to be from HMRC will start to circulate, now that that the Chancellor has announced the new Income Support Scheme for the self-employed.

They will no doubt be offering financial help in exchange for you bank details etc. and probably contain a link where an email or text is concerned.

Remember, if the link does not end in “gov.uk” or “nhs.net”, it is not legitimate.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are taking down a lot of these malicious websites as soon as they become aware of them. If you are sent a suspicious email or text, please report it via the Netcraft website at: https://report.netcraft.com/report

Please be doubly careful to check any emails or text messages.

You can find more information about cyber security, how to check messages you receive and how to get involved at this website from SEGWARP, the South East Government Warning, Advisory and Reporting Point (SEGWARP)

https://seemp.co.uk/2020/03/26/be-cyber-aware-during-covid-19/

Other useful information and guidance

OCC Guidance for Oxford residents and employees

OCC Guidance for tenants

NHS coronavirus advice

Government help for businesses

Mental health support

Advice for pregnant women

Volunteering for your local community Oxford Hub

Volunteering for the NHS

Who is a key worker?

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