This information changes so frequently and so we would always advise people to refer to this page for the latest updates. We have also worked really hard on developing our coronavirus web pages, to provide you with the very latest advice and guidance and these can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19).

One of our top priorities at the moment is making sure that any business that has had to close between 5 November and 2 December, due to the current national restrictions, applies for a local restriction grant. You can do this by visiting our website at Business rates - 2020/21 announcements.

This has been an incredibly challenging year for businesses and so we want to make sure that those who are eligible access this support do so as soon as possible. The process is really simple and our teams are ready to turn applications around as quickly as they can. We understand how vital this support is, which is why we are also working rapidly to get the government's discretionary grants up and running as well. As soon as this is ready, the application process will appear at Coronavirus support for businesses, so please keep a close eye on this page and our social media pages. This page also offers lots of other information, which you may find useful.

We can all play our part in supporting our local businesses by shopping locally this Christmas. Last week, we launched our Countdown to Christmas campaign with the Chichester Observer and Midhurst and Petworth Observer and our partners to encourage everyone to support local. You can find more about this at . Many local businesses are continuing to offer deliveries, click and collect, takeaway, or online services - and we know that our High Streets are already gearing up to welcome you back. We're also offering free parking every weekend at our Avenue de Chartres car park in Chichester during December and you can select two hours and get the third hour free when using the MiPermit app during December in the majority of our car parks across the district, when the current restrictions are due to be lifted.

Our Covid-Information Officers have been visiting local businesses, making sure that they are Covid-secure and that they have all of the support they need. We are also working with our partners and looking at how we can offer extra reassurance to shoppers when they carry out their Christmas shopping. We hope to tell you more about this in the coming weeks.

This week, we are also launching our 'Make your Change Count' campaign. The aim of this is to bring about a lasting change to the lives of rough sleepers in the district. We are working with homeless charities Four Streets, HEART and Stonepillow and encouraging people to donate to these charities so that they can support rough sleepers long-term, rather than giving money directly to people on the street. We know how generous the people of the district are, but what they don't realise is that by giving money directly, their kindness is actually helping to keep people on the street, preventing from people from accessing the long-term specialist support that they need. When we first went into lockdown earlier this year, the majority of rough sleepers accepted our help and accessed the support and accommodation that was offered to them. I'm so pleased to tell you that many of these people have started to turn their lives around and one third of those sleeping rough at the start of the pandemic now have long term accommodation - which is really positive news.  My colleague Cllr Alan Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events, will be taking over my district dispatch column soon to tell you more about this.

I want to thank you for your continued support and for playing your part during this crisis.

Please take care and stay safe.

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council