The quickest and easiest way to use our services is by going online, where you can access these anytime, anywhere. If you are a council tax, business rates or benefits customer, our My Account service is a secure and easy way to manage payments; access your records; claim financial help in the form of housing benefits, council tax reduction and discretionary housing payments; report a change in your situation, and; update your personal details.

Our online 'Report it' section means you can make us aware of problems such as fly-tipping, extensive littering or a street cleaning issue, a parking problem, or a food safety issue. You can also apply for services, including help with council tax or housing costs, a license, planning permission or parking permits.

Paying online is also a quick and easy way to buy car park season tickets, pay planning application fees, join our Bulky Household Waste or Garden Recycling collection services, and pay or appeal a parking permit. Simply click on the 'apply, report, pay' link from any page on our site. Our public council meetings continue to be webcast online. A list of upcoming meetings, previously webcast meetings, and live links, can all be found by going to: View council meetings.

If you can't find what you are looking for on our website, you can still get in touch with a member of our staff.While our customer services team are working a little differently, they are available to support you. Since lockdown began, they have taken over 60,000 calls. You can contact the team by emailing: contact@chichester.gov.uk or you can reach them by phone between 9am and 5pm on weekdays by calling: 01243 785166.

If you need to contact us out of working hours (after 5pm weekdays and throughout the weekend) and it's an emergency, you can call us on: 01243 785339. If you, or someone you know, needs an emergency face to face appointment, we can look to arrange this for you — just call us on: 01243 785166.

Our phone lines are still a bit busier than usual, and you may have to wait a little longer than we would like, but please bear with us and our team will help you as soon as they can.

If you're not following our social media channels already, these are a great way to keep up to date with the latest council news. You can find us on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , and LinkedIn . We also have a YouTube account. Whether through answering queries, putting people in touch with the team they need to speak to, or advising people of the best way to access our services, we've helped almost 800 people on our social media channels since the start of lockdown.

If you'd prefer to receive news as a monthly update in your email inbox, I'd encourage you to sign up for our email newsletter. These bulletins include a useful range of information, from key coronavirus news from the Government, to updates on council services, projects and schemes which are of interest or benefit to our residents, businesses and visitors.

In our last email newsletter, we let people know about the launch of our new business and community grants schemes. The response to these has been really encouraging, and I would urge businesses and community groups across the district to find out if they are eligible. They can check eligibility and apply on our website. £250,000 has been allocated to supporting community groups and £250,000 has been allocated to supporting businesses based within the Chichester District.

These schemes are a key part of our council's recovery plan, and over recent weeks, my Cabinet colleagues have taken over this space to explain how our council is planning to help the district recover from the coronavirus crisis. If you've missed these articles, you can view them all on our website at: Leader's District Dispatch column.

As we head into the autumn and winter seasons, we can all do our bit to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. The easiest way to do this is by continuing to follow Government advice. This means wearing our face coverings, unless exempt, where it is obligatory; washing our hands properly, and; following social distancing rules. It's also key that if we do experience any coronavirus symptoms, that we isolate ourselves and get tested. Together, by observing the guidance and being mindful and respectful of each other, we can keep ourselves and others safe.

Councillor Eileen Lintill

Leader, Chichester District Council