Council Leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson shares his thoughts and obeservations about how Portsmouth is rising to the challenge of the Covid19 and the lockdown.
"This Easter weekend has been unlike any other we have experienced. So often we wish for good weather, days to spend with friends and family and enjoying all the events going on in our city. But this weekend has been so different, and we all know how crucial it is to stay in to save lives and protect the NHS.
I am very pleased to be able to report that overwhelmingly the people of Portsmouth have risen to the challenge of changing their lives in the last few weeks. We know from our wardens and the police that the vast majority have conformed to the government’s guidance and lockdown measures.
The way we are responding and coming together as a community will help to ensure our safety and strength in the days and weeks ahead, and the enormous effort that has happened over the last few weeks is nothing short of inspirational. "
"Every business has changed, every school has changed and our environment has changed too. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of those changes.
If you need help
The Hive, Portsmouth is the main place to go if someone is vulnerable, on their own and needs essential help with food and medicines. Last week over 500 people received food parcels and over 1500 people were contacted. Their telephone number is 023 9261 6709.
The Council has taken the view that no one should be left without access to food and is providing up to £8,000 every week to purchase the necessary supplies for The Hive. We are also hugely grateful to the many businesses and individuals who are regularly donating supplies to add to the effort.
Rubbish & Recycling
Collections are carrying on as usual but to help maintain the service, the Council needs your help. Lots of people have taken the opportunity to declutter. Please hang on to this additional dry waste for the coming weeks as the amenity tip and textile banks are temporarily closed.
Schools are open over Easter, but only for those children of critical workers or children who are vulnerable. There are no plans to reopen schools at the moment, although our teachers are working flat out from home keeping in touch and planning on-line learning.
Parking is free in most places, including parking zones and council car parks. Many schools and the Park and Ride have offered their car parks to businesses who are happy to park their business vehicles there in order to free up spaces for critical workers in the streets when they return home after a long shift.
Many small businesses in the city have really stepped up to the challenge of ensuring food is being delivered, making masks, donating items and volunteering. There are too many to mention, but it is clear to see how creative, adaptive and valued they are in our city.
We were one of the first councils to set up a specific Business Support Line to help local businesses navigate the government offers of grants and support. Hundreds of calls have been made already and the first payments will go out by the end of the week. If you need advice, please call 023 9284 1641 (working days 7am - 7pm)
Public spaces remain open but only for local residents to take some much-needed fresh air and exercise. We are aware that many people in Portsmouth live in flats or crowded houses without outside space. This decision will be monitored daily.
NB The Seafront roads are being closed on weekends and Bank Holidays to create additional space to ensure social distancing. The police report that this has worked well.
Portsmouth Library service has a lot of free online activities for the whole family including music, books and comics to keep us entertained, as well as lots of ideas for craft projects, bedtime stories and videos. Find out more online.
We know that for many residents they are continuing to work and will need transport to get there. First Bus and Stagecoach have agreed to accept each other’s tickets so workers can get on the first bus that comes along.
I am aware that people will be experiencing this in many different ways and that the impact will be unique in every home in the city. There are many places to get support and the Portsmouth City Council website is being updated daily with the latest information.
If in doubt call 023 9268 8004
Please keep yourself and your family safe and well."
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
Leader Portsmouth City Council
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