A key objective in our council's housing strategy is to ensure that we provide enough affordable housing and that everyone in the district has access to suitable housing. This means that it is safe and in good condition. Last year we commissioned a Government funded report into current housing conditions in our district. These findings are now helping us to shape a new policy which will support homeowners and private sector landlords to maintain the condition of their properties. It will also include all the steps that our Housing Standards Team will be able to take in order to improve the standard of accommodation in the district.

We will shortly be launching a public consultation where you will be able to share your views on the main proposals of this policy. These cover how we can help tackle excess cold and reduce fuel poverty; improve the standard of rented properties; assist homeowners that can't afford repairs to their homes; and support those who are disabled through facilities grants. We will be launching this survey through our Let's Talk consultation and feedback pages.

This is an important piece of work and we are really keen to hear your views as it will make a huge difference to those residents who find themselves living in unsuitable conditions, and will help us to significantly improve their health and wellbeing. The survey will run from Friday 6 November until midnight on Friday 4 December 2020 and I really encourage you to find out more.

Another of our priorities is to support rough sleepers off the street, and support them to receive the specialist help that is available. Next month, we will be launching our 'Make Your Change Count' project, which aims to encourage people to donate to local homelessness charities rather than directly to rough sleepers, as this is often what keeps people on the streets and prevents them from seeking the support that they really need. Our Housing Team is working closely with local charities Stonepillow, Four Streets and HEART on this project. We'll be sharing more information soon, so please keep an eye out for this.

Many of you will be starting to think about Christmas, and I know that this year's celebrations may be very different this year amid the on-going pandemic. Our local businesses and shops really need our support this festive season, so next month we will be launching our 'Shop local, Visit local, Support local' campaign to encourage everyone to support our local economy. You will be able to find all the details in the winter edition of initiatives magazine which will be arriving with you very soon, as well as at www.chichester.gov.uk/countdowntochristmas from the second week of November.

We have a number of events coming up, including Halloween and Bonfire Night. As I mentioned last week, we are encouraging people to celebrate safely at home with their own household in order to reduce the risk of infection. We are advising against trick or treating and leaving sweets outside. Instead, have fun dressing up at home, eating yummy things and watching festive films. With Bonfire Night we are urging people not to take any unnecessary risks and to be considerate of their neighbours. Another important national event, Remembrance Day will also be taking place and we are urging people to join in the official services and celebrations virtually during these unusual times. You can still mark the national two-minute silence at home and we are also encouraging people to display a poppy poster at the front of their home if they wish to.

If you have booked time off with your families this half term, then please enjoy yourselves safely. Please, please, continue to follow all the coronavirus guidance to protect you and your loved ones.

Take care,

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader, Chichester District Council