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Pembury Library Remains Closed

KCC acts to tackle financial impact of Covid pandemic – Press Release from KCC

Kent County Council has had to take some difficult decisions in order to balance its budget as it tackles the impact of Covid on its finances.

The pandemic has resulted in extra costs this year totalling £96.3million. Although much of this has been offset by central government grants and underspends on activities that could not go ahead as planned, the council still needed to take action to save £12.8 million over the remainder of the current financial year to balance its budget.

Many services are now being delivered from more than 100 Covid-secure re-opened buildings across the county. However, to ensure the council continues to ensure financial resilience for the rest of the financial year, the remaining unopened buildings will stay closed for the coming months.

Among those services affected are Libraries, Registrations and Archives, Children’s Centres and Community Learning Services.

Although ideally the council would like to reopen all its buildings, it has made the difficult decision that those libraries, children’s centres and community learning buildings not yet reopened will remain closed this year, to avoid the considerable costs in making them Covid secure.

At the full county council meeting, members discussed proposed amendments to the Revenue Budget 2020-21, which highlighted how the council had been able to reflect the additional Covid-19 related budget pressures, additional spending, and loss of income. They also considered the undeliverable savings and reviewed the government grants and underspends within services that have arisen from lockdown.

Peter Oakford, KCC’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Across the authority we are working hard to ensure our vital services continue to be delivered.

“For now, we must focus on reassessing our delivery priorities, ensuring the continuity of our services and finding ways to ensure we offer flexibility in our support to residents and our communities.

“As far as libraries, children’s centres and community learning services are concerned, our decision was not an easy one. We know that these are popular service and residents may be disappointed by our decision, as will those staff who will not be able to work at their usual building.

“In common with all councils across the country we are facing huge uncertainty and are working hard to understand what the impact of Covid-19 will be on our budget for next year.

“Work is under way to develop our financial strategy to make sure we remain financially resilient and continue to provide those services that are vital to our residents and communities.”

Community Grants – Deadline Extended!

Grants poster

We have a total of £1,000 available, so why not apply today!!

We have created a new grant fund to help community groups or not for profit organisations in Pembury for their one-off projects.  We have £1,000 to share to get local projects off the ground!

To apply:

Please complete an application form and return to the Parish Council.

Eligibility:

You  must be a community group or not for profit organisation.

Your project will be of benefit to the parish of Pembury or its residents.

Please see our Grants Awarding Policy for full details.

Deadline:

The deadline has been extended and all applications should be received by Friday 9 October 2020.

Contact us:

Email: clerk@pemburyparishcouncil.gov.uk

Post: The Parish Office, Lower Green Recreation Ground, Lower Green Road, Pembury, Kent TN2 4DZ

More Kent libraries to re-open

Good news! More Kent libraries are set to reopen over the course of week starting 24 August 2020. These will be the first libraries to also offer a socially distanced book browsing service for customers so they can select books from the shelves.

Cranbrook and Showfields will reopen on Tuesday 25 August.  Southborough library will be opening for browsing on Monday 7 September, and will continue to offer the Select and Collect service.

Additional safety measures in each library will include hand sanitizer stations, one-way circulation routes through the building, use of the self-service machines, and face coverings being mandatory (unless exempt).

The first 12 libraries that opened across Kent in July which included Southborough Library, will continue to offer a Select and Collect service for the time being, with browsing likely to be introduced in the coming weeks.

In September, we will also be relaunching the mobile library service and plan to open further libraries across Kent.  Call 03000 41 31 31, check our website www.kent.gov.uk/libs or @TunbridgewellsLibraries on Facebook for updates.

Full Overnight Closure of A21 – 1 to 11 September – 8pm to 6am

Highways England have informed us they will be carrying out ground investigations to the A21 carriageway between Riccards Lane and Marley Lane, to establish ground conditions for a proposed resurfacing scheme.  In order to carry out these works as efficiently and safely as possible, work will be carried out under full closures of the A21 between Riccards Lane and Marley Lane, between the hours of 8pm to 6am.

Full Carriageway Closure of A21

A21 closed between Riccards Lane and Marley Lane 1 September 2020 – 11 September 2020

Monday to Friday only 8pm – 6am

A clearly signed diversions will be in place during all closures utilising local routes, suitable for all types of vehicles when full closures of the carriageway are in place.

South Diversion route:

A21 heading south: traffic wishing to travel along the A21, will be diverted at Johns Cross Roundbout to follow the A2100 through to Baldslow, where traffic can re-join the A21

North Diversion route:

A21traffic wishing to travel north will be directed from Baldslow to follow the A2100 to re-join the A21 at Johns Cross Roundabout.

Residents living within the closure between Riccards Lane and Marley please wait at the hard closure points, where you will be escorted to your property. Residents wishing to leave their property whilst the closure is in place, please call our NCC (0845 6122 888) who will contact site to send an escort to your property. Please be advised there may be a short wait for the escort vehicle.

News from Paddock Wood Advice Centre – July 2020

Please be advised that Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre is now open as usual for appointments and drop-in clients. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 1.30pm and our contact details are.

Telephone          01892 838 619

Email:                  info@pwadvice.org

Website:              www.pwadvice.org

We continue to operate a telephone and email advice service for clients who are unable to attend our offices.

Excerpt from newsletter below:

Dear All
Welcome to our latest newsletter and the first of our current financial year. We start as usual with our statistics, however they are rather unusual due to the extraordinary start to 2020 we have experienced with the effects of Covid-19.
Since the start of lockdown on 23 March 2020:
• We have helped 324 individual clients
• We have had 1,007 contacts with these individuals
• Our dedicated volunteers gave 1,020 hours of their time, for which we are extremely grateful
• We have made 288 telephone calls and sent 304 emails to help clients
• We have generated £521,892.50 worth of additional income for our clients by helping them to access unclaimed welfare benefits
• We have helped clients to have £10,056.91 worth of debt written off.

Impact of Covid-19
Throughout the lockdown, our physical office has been closed but our wonderful team of volunteers have continued to provide advice, Monday to Friday by telephone and email.
The most common issue we have dealt with is Welfare Benefits, with many clients navigating the Welfare Benefit system for the first time in their lives. In quarter one, we saw double the number of clients about Universal Credit issues than we saw in the same period last year. We have continued to help clients to challenge incorrect decisions about disability benefits in the first-tier tribunal and helped twelve clients to win their appeals through detailed written submissions and representation ‘in person’ at telephone hearings. This is a 100% success rate.
The DWP recently reported a 40% decrease in new applications for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in April 2020 compared with the previous year. We have also observed a decline in new applications for all disability benefits, including PIP, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Attendance Allowance (AA). This reflects the difficulties many vulnerable people have with navigating telephone and online systems to demonstrate that they qualify for a benefit with a complex set of rules and requirements. We believe that maintaining our face to face advice service is of paramount importance during these difficult times and were delighted to successfully re-open our doors for face to face clients on Monday 13 July 2020.
As expected, the second most common issue has been Employment, which has made up 1 in 5 of our new cases. These have varied from enquiries about furlough, working rights, redundancy, and holiday pay. Employment issues will continue to be common as the furlough scheme changes and more and more businesses start to look at redundancy to cut costs.
What is clear is that we are yet to see the full impact of this unprecedented period and we anticipate an overwhelming demand for our services as measures introduced to alleviate financial pressure on people at the start of lockdown begin to be phased out. It is not surprising that housing and debt enquiries, both of which regularly feature in our top 3 issues, have fallen away over the last few months as people have not had to deal with evictions, bailiffs or benefit sanctions. Most of these measures are due to end over the next couple of months and we will be busier than ever.