Chelmsford City Council

Coronavirus

We understand that our residents and customers may have concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. We would like to reassure you that we are working with the government, NHS, other councils, partners and community groups to keep people safe.

On this page, you can find information about support available to vulnerable and shielded people, as well as updates on any changes to our services.

You can:


Prevent coronavirus spreading

Everyone must help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The steps we can take to help control the virus are:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

    

Getting help to the vulnerable and volunteering to help

Together with other councils and organisations, we are part of Essex Community Shield, which is bringing volunteers together with the people most in need of help.


Support for residents

You can view our coronavirus support for residents for information about advice and support during this difficult time and organisations that you can contact if you need advice or help. 

All our recycling and waste collections are currently operating as normal.

Building control

We will continue to assess all building applications in the same way and aim to meet our current turnaround timescales. 

If you are still undertaking building work, you must still notify us when you reach each stage of work, according to your Inspection Service Plan. 

We will be answering all queries on the phone instead of visiting a site in person. Therefore you must provide a suitable phone number. This will allow us to contact you to understand the full extent of the work needed and the site setting, as necessary. 

This will help us determine the correct response to protect you, ourselves and the wider community.

You can contact Building Control on  01245 606431 or email  building.control@chelmsford.gov.uk


Planning

We are continuing to process planning applications as near normally as possible. You can submit new applications online using the Planning Portal.

We are continuing to send neighbour notification letters to anyone we think will be affected by a planning application. You can comment on an application using Public Access.

We are not posting site notices, but in some cases we are asking applicants to display notices where the law requires them.

We are not undertaking site visits unless absolutely necessary and are asking applicants to provide photographs with their application. 

We have suspended face to face meetings with planning officers. However, you can meet with our officers online via Skype or Microsoft Teams. You can also  request planning advice in writing.

You can view our coronavirus help and guidance for businesses and employers for details of Business Rates changes, business support grants and other advice.


Discretionary business support grants

We are currently accepting applications for our discretionary business support grants scheme. The closing date is Sunday 12 July.


Food businesses

We understand that food businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.

You can view our coronavirus guidance for food businesses.

We have also launched a new parking dispensation scheme for food delivery companies during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find out how to apply.

Car parks

All of our car parks are now open.

You need to check with Essex County Council regarding their Park and Ride service.

 

Other parking matters

You can read full details of all our other changes to parking arrangements. This includes information about free on-street parking for key workers, enforcement, resident parking and our service levels.

We have also launched a new parking dispensation scheme for food delivery companies during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find out how to apply.

If your income has been affected by coronavirus and you need help with your rent or Council Tax payments, we want to provide you with some information to help you at this difficult and uncertain time.

You can view our coronavirus guidance for Council Tax and benefits.

Customer Service Centre

Our Customer Service Centre is open, but with reduced opening hours.


Mobile Customer Information Service

We suspended our Mobile Customer Information Service visits until further notice.

This is to keep our communities safe considering the current national situation.

The Police, Fire and Crime Commission elections scheduled for May 2020 have been postponed to May 2021. We have also postponed the by-election for the Councillor vacancy in Moulsham Lodge.

You can see more information on our upcoming elections page.

Street care

All street cleaning is operating as normal. 

With more people than usual exercising outdoors with their pets, our red dog waste bins are filling up quickly. 

The street care team will continue to empty these regularly, but if the bin you want to use is full, you should take your bag home to dispose of it.


Stray dogs

The stray dog service is now operating from 8.45am to 4.45pm, Monday to Friday. The last collection will be 4pm.

If you find a stray dog, you can continue to report it to us as normal by phone on 01245 606606.

You can find out more about dogs.


Pest control

We are dealing with pest control requests regarding rats or mice. We are continuing to accept these bookings as these pests are a main public health concern. We are now also accepting bookings for wasp treatments.

We will re-visit two weeks after initial treatment, instead of the normal one week.


Bonfires

You should be considerate of your neighbours by not having bonfires. The smoke is having a much bigger effect on people at this time, especially those with health conditions. A bonfire could put someone's health at risk. 

You can report an odour problem.

Three Foot People Festival

It is with a heavy heart that we must let you know that this year’s 3foot People Festival is cancelled. 


SWFest

We have decided to not run this year’s SWFest in August. This is to protect our residents from the threat of coronavirus and in line with the advice and guidance from the government.  

You can read more on the SWFest page

Additional support for homeless people and rough sleepers

The most vulnerable in our society remain a top priority for Chelmsford City Council, including people sleeping rough and others who are homeless. Officers from Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Council, neighbouring local authorities and central government are working together to develop additional support for those who are sleeping rough.

The night shelter in Chelmsford, run by CHESS Homeless, have their own contingency plans in place should there be a virus case. CHESS and other services and charities are providing information to all clients to help protect them from the virus and maintain support as best they can in challenging circumstances. These organisations and their volunteers are currently working alongside us to do everything that they can to help others.

The City Council, with our partners CHESS, Essex County Council, Police and other local organisations are currently concentrating efforts to maintain contact with rough sleepers and plan for additional accommodation with the aim to manage the risk of illness and reduce the need to go back to the streets.

If anyone is worried that they are going to become homeless, you do not need to come to us in order to be helped. As soon as you become aware that you are at risk of homelessness, contact us at housing.solutions@chelmsford.gov.uk or call 01245 606880. It is often possible to prevent homelessness if advice is given early.


Housing Register

We are currently still running our choice-based lettings scheme. If you are on the Housing Register, you can express your interest in properties advertised each week by the registered providers (housing associations).

Therefore, you can still bid on available properties and we will continue to assess who is the successful nominee in line with our housing need and allocations policy.

However, as most landlords of social housing have currently suspended lettings due to coronavirus, if you are successful for a nomination and the registered provider is willing to offer a tenancy, your move date will be delayed.

Due to coronavirus, we have made some temporary amendments to our housing assistance policy. You can view the  updated housing assistance policy.

All our leisure centres are closed until further notice.


About Direct Debits, payments and refunds

  • All direct debits are frozen. This covers all Wellness memberships, Swim School, Skate School, Sports School and Patch memberships. You do not need to do anything – we will freeze your payments automatically
  • We will not be offering a partial refund for March Direct Debit payments at his stage. This will be reviewed once we have a date for reopening but we will ensure that customers don't lose out financially. 
  • Please do not cancel your direct debit with your bank. This will result in a delay in resuming your membership when we re-open
  • We will give all members advance notice of when their direct debits will start again once we are able to confirm when we will be re-opening our centres
  • All children’s holiday courses, parties and any other pay-as-you-go activities will be refunded automatically. There is no need to contact us, we will be in touch to process your refund, please allow up to 7 days for refunds to be processed. 
  • So that we can get in touch with people who have urgent bookings, we have a favour to ask of you. Please don’t call us for a refund in the coming days if you have a booking that isn’t coming up for a while. We will be in touch with every customer who needs a refund, but we will have to do this in date order.

Thank you for your understanding and take good care of yourselves in the coming weeks. We’ll contact you soon with regular content and tips from our team about how to stay healthy at home, and if you haven’t already done so, sign up for www.chelmsford.gov.uk/mailinglist.

In light of the current situation and the introduction of new emergency regulations, we have made some changes to the application processes for licences.  

Licensed premises

You can submit applications in relation to the Licensing Act 2003 and implied consent will apply in most cases.


Personal licences

You can apply for a personal licence by emailing  licensing@chelmsford.gov.uk. You must:

  • scan all required documents, including high resolution photos, and send them to us by email
  • provide us with your DBS reference details in order to access search results of the basic disclosure check
  • retain all original documents until we confirm your application has been successful

 

Taxis and private hire vehicles

We will no longer be:

  • accepting any new hackney carriage or private hire drivers licence applications
  • accepting cheques
  • accepting any Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) forms or supporting documents, but we will extend the licence period until this can be completed
  • carrying out any Taxi Knowledge tests


Renewals

To renew a driver licence, you must contact us and post any original documents (if necessary) to Licensing, Civic Centre, Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1JE.

To renew a vehicle licence, you must contact us and send any relevant documents by email to  licensing@chelmsford.gov.uk

We will now only be accepting payments over the phone.


MOTs and inspections

The government recently announced they are reintroducing MOT testing from 1 August 2020. You can read more about the MOT changes on the GOV.UK website.

You should book a test in advance to ensure your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition.

If your taxi or private hire vehicle inspection due date is before 1 August, you will still receive a six-month exemption.

We are still responding to any enquiries by phone and email. You can contact Licensing by phone on  01245 606727 or email licensing@chelmsford.gov.uk

Chelmsford High Street

Chelmsford City Centre re-opened on Monday 15 June with new social distancing measures in place. These measures include a ‘keep left’ system for pedestrians, street markings and new directional signage.

You can read more in our news release.


Market

The Retail Market reopened on Tuesday 16 June.

All food traders are operating on a takeaway basis only.

The High Street market will be open on Fridays and Saturdays until 4pm, but will not be open on Tuesday for the time being.

We plan to go ahead with most, if not all, the meetings of the Council, Cabinet and committees we have scheduled.

For the foreseeable future, they will be remote meetings. You can view guidance on how to join and view the meetings online as part of the agendas.

The government has announced that they are extending MOT due dates for six months for certain types of vehicle from Monday 30 March 2020. 

This means we are not accepting MOT booking at Freighter House after 30 March, unless your MOT ran out in March.

You can read more about MOT changes.

Chelmsford Museum, The Essex Regiment Museum and Sandford Mill are closed until further notice.

The Hive Cafe, within Chelmsford Museum, is open for takeaway from 10am to 4pm.

The toilets at Oaklands Park are also now open.

To stay updated, sign up for news at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/mailinglist 

All our parks are open. Toilets in our parks are also now open.

We plan to reopen play areas and outdoor gyms on a gradual basis. We will start by reopening these facilities in parks and recreation grounds by Saturday 4 July.

We will then open these facilities in residential areas by 11 July.

You will see signs at these facilities reminding you to social distance and practice good hand hygiene.


Hylands

Hylands Park is open. Social distancing requirements remain in place when you visit.

We have opened:

  • Mauro's outdoor cafe (for takeaway only)
  • toilets

We have closed:

  • the adventure castle play area
  • the Artist Studios

You can read more on the Hylands Estate website. 

We have produced some coronavirus safety guidance for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers and passengers.

You can view our coronavirus safety guidance for taxi drivers.

You can also view our coronavirus safety guidance for taxi passengers.

Chelmsford City Theatres is closed until further notice.

We currently have a very small number of staff working so responding to our customers may take longer than we would normally like. We are very sorry for any short term inconvenience this may cause you. 

We hope to welcome you back when we reopen the doors, as the show must go on. 

We ask you not to contact the Box Office for details regarding your booking, as this may delay the process further. 

To stay updated, sign up for news at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/mailinglist

All toilets in parks are now open. 

Our toilets in Market Road are open:

  • 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday
  • 10am to 3.30pm on Sundays

 

We have set up a taskforce to ensure strong links between council services, the voluntary sector, and the wider community.

Together with other councils and organisations, we are part of  Essex Community Shield, which is bringing volunteers together with the people most in need of help. 


Volunteering

We also continuing our risk-based approach to limit and avoid transmission of the coronavirus and to ensure social distancing, and avoid unnecessary travel and gatherings. This means we have suspended our volunteering projects and activities in parks and green spaces until further notice.

This includes:

  • all conservation volunteering
  • all garden volunteering
  • the community allotment project
  • project work with schools and other partners, such as corporate groups

We are so grateful for your time and commitment, but for now, the health and wellbeing of our amazing volunteers and partners is our top priority. 

Our parks staff will continue to manage and maintain the parks and green spaces we all love, and we hope that in the not too distant future we’ll be working with our volunteers once more.

Protect yourself against coronavirus-related scams

There are numerous bogus emails and text messages circulating, so find out how to spot them and protect yourself from fraud.


Privacy notice 

We have published a new privacy notice during the coronavirus outbreak.


Essex County Council services


Schools

We are not responsible for schools and education, as this comes under the remit of Essex County Council. 


Household recycling centres

We are not responsible for household recycling centres household recycling centres, as this comes under the remit of Essex County Council


Testing

You can find more information about getting tested for COVID-19.

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Last updated: 03 July 2020

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