County Councillors Report

County Councillor Linda Robinson

28th April 2022

COVID update

As we are all aware Covid 19 is still very much amongst us albeit with much milder symptoms for most of those infected . Rates in Worcestershire are decreasing but we are still have one of the highest rates in England at 248 cases per 100,000 against 227 for England as a whole.  We currently have 158 cases in Worcestershire Acute hospitals. This increase is the highest we have seen in the last year. It has led to staff shortages and longer waiting times particularly for ambulances.

Spring Booster vaccinations are now being offered to over 75’s and those with a weakened immune system aged 12 and over.

The advice is still to take extra care and follow guidance to keep yourself and others safe.

WORCESTERSHIRE’s roads will be given a new lease of life when the county’s surface dressing programme hits the streets.

The programme will see road surfaces across the county restored, with more 160 sites set to be treated over the spring and summer.

Surface dressing works follow on from the winter gritting season and various other ongoing works taking place to maintain and improve the county’s road network.

Jon Fraser from Worcestershire County Council Highways said: “The surface dressing process is used to improve the surface of the road and slow down deterioration.

“Once the road surface has ‘settled down’ over a number of weeks, the road surface is as good as new. Using this quick and efficient process means that disruption to all road users is kept to a minimum.

“Please keep an eye out for signs detailing works in your road and do what you can to help works run as smoothly as possible.”

Surface dressing is a very effective way of restoring the road surface to extend the life of an existing surface, prevent deterioration, improve skid resistance, and seal the road against water preventing potholes forming in winter.

Signs will be displayed on roads prior to any work taking place and works are subject to change if weather conditions are suitable to carry out the process.

Visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/surfacedressing for the list of roads which will be subject to the works in 2022 and stay up to date with the surface dressing schedule on Twitter @WorcsTravel.

Ukraine

Since we last met the crisis in the Ukraine has worsened and I have attached the most recent communication I have had from WCC with an update on the current statistics in Worcestershire on refugees. As of last week, 12Ukrainian children are attending schools in Wychavon with many more expected.

We have been asked as Councillors to try to encourage help from anyone who speaks Russian or Ukrainian  n to come forward to assist with translation and communication.

The response, generosity and offers of help from our local communities comes as no surprise to me. Whether through fund raising, donations or offering to act as hosts thank you all so much. I have visited the Ukraine several times in the past and recently had the occasion through our Local Government Association to speak with some Ukrainian councillors.   The situation they are finding their communities in is shocking and beyond belief in modern times. The trauma inflicted on them is indescribable and deeply distressing.

Consequent shortages and rising costs of energy are affecting us all globally not to mention our local farmers who are struggling with the increased costs of fertiliser and red diesel for their tractors. Food prices are on the rise and some difficult choices are having to be made by many as the war in Ukraine has such far reaching consequences.

Homes for Ukraine Support in Worcestershire

  • The County Council, District Councils and partners have unanimously pledged to do all they can to support families and individuals arriving in Worcestershire from Ukraine as part of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the Ukraine Family Scheme.
  • Below is the most up to date number of Hosts and Guests and as previously communicated, this number is changing on a regular basis.

Data as at 11/04/2022 – number of children split by school stage

District No of Host Properties No of Guests No of Children by School Stage
Pre-school Primary Secondary
Bromsgrove 26 62 3 7 15
Malvern 57 147 10 34 21
Redditch 11 25 2 7 2
Worcester 36 80 3 16 14
Wychavon 80 202 15 32 37
Wyre Forest 20 49 6 8 4
Grand Total 230 565 39 104 93
  • The District teams are working tirelessly on the housing checks and County Council teams are doing the same with the DBS checks needed for all Sponsor family members aged 16+.
  • Guidance has changed such that our team are only checking IDs for advanced checks on households hosting children, links to complete basic checks are being sent to households without children. Once certificates arrive, sponsors will be asked to bring them to an appointment at their local library to be checked.
  • A route has been established with the finance team to pay for basic checks via refund or alternatively sponsors are given an option to forward the link to payment direct to the H2H team.
  • A locally built Here2Host dashboard is being developed to allow District and County colleagues to update details on sponsors and guests, this includes confirming when house checks are completed, DBS ID checks and notes around any safeguarding/welfare needs.
  • Staff training for certificate checking will be delivered by the DBS team and preparations are being made to transition staff from checking ID to now also checking certificates.

o   We have had reassurances from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) that the DBS check and accommodation check are not a requirement for issuing a visa from the Home Office and the associated permission to travel, and the DBS/accommodation check may well be completed after any Ukraine nationals arrive.

    • District teams in Worcestershire have carried out a considerable number of accommodation checks already, even before Ukrainian Guests have arrived and we are arranging DBS checks for sponsors and members of their households aged 16+. We have moved very quickly however there may be a delay with DBS checks due to the sheer number being requested nationally, although this will not prevent visas being issued by the Home Office for Ukrainian Guests arriving in the county.
    • We now know that Sponsors’ council tax rates and benefits will not being affected by the change in circumstance by hosting Guests.
    • We urge charities, community groups, organisations or businesses who are able to offer support to Refugees to register their service on the Community Services Directory to enable us to build up support networks and signposting.
  • Signposting to Welcome guides and checklists are being sent to sponsors and the website is being updated to reflect available support.
  • The County Council’s Adult Learning Team is running Cultural awareness sessions for Officers (Districts, County Council, wider partners inc. schools) and Sponsors on cultural awareness.  These have been well received so far.
  • Welcome packs are being collated for Guests and Sponsors that contain a wide range of useful local information provided by District colleagues in addition to information provided by the County Council and other partners.
  • District Councils have confirmed arrangements for making an immediate welfare payment of £200 per guest as well as setting up the monthly £350 ‘thank you’ payments for Sponsors.

Education Update – school places for Ukrainian children

  • All children living in the UK have a right to access a school in England, irrespective of their nationality.  The Government’s expectation is that if there are school places available in the local area, even if not in the immediate vicinity of the family’s home, the local authority will work with families arriving from Ukraine to enable the children to attend school as soon as possible.
  • In Worcestershire, access to information and the admission application process is being supported by Here2Help. To date (19/04/2022), 26 children and young people have already been offered places in schools across the county through the application route, with another 7 applications currently being processed. Details of all applications are shown below:
District Number of school applications
Wychavon 12 (10 first, 2 secondary)
Wyre Forest 2 (1 primary. 1 secondary)
Malvern Hills 3 (primary)
Redditch 2 (1 first, 1 middle)
Worcester 13 (7 primary, 6 secondary)
Bromsgrove 1 (secondary)

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