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Coronavirus Service Disruption

The following is a list of known service changes as a result of the COVID-19 virus. This is a rapidly-moving situation, please accept our apologies for any errors or omissions. This page will be updated regularly to give the most accurate picture, so keep checking back for updates.

Affected service list – Last updated Thursday 5 November 2020

Civic Centre and Tenterden Town Hall: Both closed; please contact us via email customer.care@ashford.gov.uk or on our social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn).

If you need to make a payment, visit our Pay page for instructions on how you can do this without visiting the Civic Centre. Please do not send cash in the post, it is not secure and uninsured.

Processing times (all): We are endeavouring to deal with all enquires as quickly as possible but this is a very challenging situation. We are reassigning resources to priority areas.

Household Waste+

Currently ALL services are running to the usual schedule, including garden waste and bulky collections.  

If you have the symptoms of COVID-19, please take the following extra precautions with your waste: 

  • Seal waste such as tissues and disposable cleaning cloths in smaller plastic bags 
  • Store these bags separately to your normal waste for 72 hours before double bagging them
  • Place the double bagged bags in your refuse wheeled bin (Grey bin)
  • DO NOT place plastic bags into the recycling bin (Green Bin)
  • DO NOT place tissues in the recycling bin (Green Bin)

To ensure that we are maintaining our essential refuse and recycling collection service, we are making the best use of the staff we have. Therefore, some of our street cleansing service staff are now supporting the delivery of collections.

Please note, we are not currently taking additional side waste, just the contents of your bin. We are also asking all residents to try and continue with collections as they would have normally done – and not to present exceptional levels of waste from the clearing out of garages, sheds and lofts, or to generate far higher than usual levels of garden waste (where they are part of the garden waste service). This will help our crews deliver the most essential services as efficiently as possible at this time. Thank you for the support our bin crews have received. This continues to be very much appreciated.

If there are any changes or disruptions to recycling and waste services we will update this page and our social media pages. 

Kent County Council has confirmed its Household Waste and Recycle Centres remain open to the public for essential use. Residents must book a slot in advance to use the centres either online or over the phone. Book a recycling centre slot online.

Council Tax and Benefits+

If your income has been affected by the recent Coronavirus outbreak, and you are unable to pay your council tax, there are several options: 


A-Z of Other Services

Allotments+

If you have an allotment, you can keep tending to it as the government count this as exercise.

Please maintain social distancing and keep 2m away from other people.

Remember that the virus can spread through surface contact so if you touch anything like a gate, padlock or tool that someone else has used, that you wash your hands with soap and water, or use a proper hand sanitiser.

Cemeteries+

We are currently keeping our cemeteries open. These are hugely emotional times and we have taken the view that those who have lost loved ones should still be able to attend their grave. Providing people remain respectful of both the cemeteries and respect social distancing rules this will be our position. This is of course an evolving situation and as such, may change in the future. 

Community Sports Sites+

All borough council sports sites are closed. This includes Courtside, Pitchside, Spearpoint and Sk8side.

Complaints+

In the current circumstances there may well be a delay beyond the standard response time when replying to complaints.

Corporate Property+

We are following the government’s advice on any grants available to businesses, with more information on our business pages. In some cases your insurance may cover you. However, if you are one of our tenants, please continue to pay your rent. If you find that you are getting into difficulty then please contact us as soon as you can.  

Council Meetings+

There will be no public meetings of the council or its committees or sub committees until further notice. Instead, meetings are being held virtually and the public can view and listen to meetings via a link on our website. More information can be found on our speak at a public meeting page.

Dog Warden+

Dog warden service is operating as normal.

Domestic Abuse+

If you are experiencing domestic abuse and are in immediate danger please call 999 immediately. If you are afraid of being overheard when you dial 999 there is a system in place – 'silent solution'. If you can respond to questions by coughing or tapping the handset you can do this, alternatively, when prompted press 55 to activate the 'silent solution' and the operator can transfer the call to your local police force as an emergency.

You can also call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) or the men's advice line (0808 801 0327).

The One You Shop is currently closed but services remain accessible.

View more domestic abuse help and resources.

View all services available in Ashford for victims, children/young people and perpetrators.

Elections+

Applications to register to vote via www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or by post will be processed as usual. All scheduled elections are postponed for 12 months. No by-elections will be held until further notice.

Appointments to view the electoral register will not be available until further notice. Queries by email, telephone or post will be answered in the normal manner.

Environmental Health+

If you are planning to start or expand hot and/or cold food delivery business, there are several controls that you need to have in place so you can do this safely on our food business coronavirus advice page.

Our Guidance for Food Depots During the Coronavirus page should be read by anyone intending to set up a distribution site for the packing, handling or transporting of foods to help vulnerable residents during the current outbreak.

Additionally we have provided advice for retail shops, supermarkets and convenience stores permitted to operate during the current COVID-19 situation.

Finally, if you are a business or community group proposing to, or already operating a new food service in response to current COVID-19 situation, we have provided helpful advice for new food businesses

Furthermore, a food allergen matrix is available for free public use on the food standards agency website. This will assist you with supplying food to anyone with any of the 14 designated allergens.

If the use of your building changes which results in taps not being used for a while, it is really important you take precautions when you get restarted so you can  reduce risks from Legionella.  We have provided some guidance to help you. Read further guidance on how to prevent a build-up of Legionella in water systems.

Events+

In line with the social distancing guidance it is advised that large gatherings should not take place. While the risks of transmitting the disease at mass gatherings are relatively low, these steps will also allow emergency services that would have been deployed for these events to be prioritised in alleviating pressure on public services.

For further information please read the government's social distancing guidance on mass gatherings.

Please note that all council arranged events have been cancelled until further notice.

Applications for events on council land are welcomed, but will be accepted on the understanding that due to government restrictions and matters beyond our control, may have to be postponed or cancelled. 

Garages+

At this time we are not offering garages to new tenants. All non-urgent garage repairs will be put on hold. 

Grounds Maintenance and Trees (Aspire)+

The Council’s Aspire Landscape Management team will continue to carry out grounds maintenance work. Works to dangerous trees will continue, however only urgent tree work will be undertaken until further notice.

Aspire will also maintain public access to parks and open spaces and continue to carry out safety inspections (unless national guidance changes) and continue to follow COVID-19 secure guidance.  

Leisure Centres+

Ashford
The Stour Centre Leisure Centre remains closed, ahead of a major refurbishment, which will significantly improve the leisure offer of the centre from mid next year. The Julie Rose Stadium operated by Freedom Leisure on behalf of the council has closed its doors in response to the announcement by the Prime Minister of a four week lockdown.

Freedom Leisure have made a commitment to its customers that they will not lose out financially. Those who pay monthly for a membership or for swimming lessons will and have paid already in November will not pay anything until January 2021. Payments due later in the month will not be collected and the next payment will be in December. Those with a pre-paid membership will have an additional month added. For more information visit the Freedom Leisure website.

Tenterden

As per the government requirement, Serco have confirmed Tenterden Leisure Centre will be closed on Wednesday evening and opening again on Wednesday 2 December (currently).

For more information visit the Tenterden Leisure Centre website for more information, or call the centre on 01580 765987 for more details.

Licensing+

We will continue to process licence renewal applications as quickly as possible to support existing businesses and licensees, and are able to make progress on the majority of new applications. Applications should ideally be sent electronically to licensing@ashford.gov.uk.

Lifeline+

We would like to assure all of our lifeline clients that your lifeline will continue to be answered and dealt with as normal during this current situation.

For anyone thinking about getting a lifeline, you can still apply and have a lifeline installed by our contractor, or you may wish to fit it yourself following our simple instructional video. The video, and more information about how to get a lifeline and what the service provides for you or a loved one, can be seen by visiting our lifeline page.

Mayor’s Engagements+

The Mayor of Ashford will continue to undertake virtual meetings and is taking forthcoming diary dates.  Please complete and send the on-line mayoral engagement form.  Find out more information about the Mayor.

One You Shop+

The shop is closed, including access to the changing places facility, but the service is not. If you want to talk to anyone about physical activity, drinking less, stopping smoking and general wellbeing then call 0300 123 1220 or email oneyou.kent@nhs.net.

Additionally, health experts from One You Kent are now offering free social media sessions on how to quit smoking, eat a healthier diet, cut down on alcohol or just feel better about life. Advisors for the programme are offering 10-15 minute sessions on the One You Kent Facebook page throughout the week. These can be watched live, or you can save them to watch later.

These sessions will run for four weeks from Tuesday 26 May 2020. Sessions are at 11am with the following schedule:

  • Health check Mondays (how to improve your lifestyle)
  • Healthy eating Tuesdays (learn how to be food smart)
  • Wellbeing Wednesdays (how to handle life's ups and downs)
  • Smokefree Thursdays (support and motivation to help you stop smoking)

Follow the One You Kent Facebook page to take part.

If you would usually use the One You Shop for food boxes, please visit one of the alternative distribution points below: 

  • St Mary’s Church, Willesborough, Ashford, TN24 0YR. Tel: 07583418386 (Monday, Wednesday  Friday 9.30am - 4.30pm only) 
  • Uprising Community Hub, Brooke Road, Ashford, TN24 8HN
  • Gateway Church, Clockhouse, Beaver Road, Ashford  
  • St Francis’ Church, Cryol Road, South Ashford      
  • Bright City Church, 28 Bank Street, Ashford  
  • In addition, these sites are also providing food vouchers to vulnerable members of the community who are most in need. 

Parking+

As at 1 July 2020 all residents are to return to normal parking practices, as the provision of free parking for permit holders and non-critical key workers stopped on 30 June as per government guidelines.

Critical key workers, as defined below, are able to continue parking for free in our car park and on-street parking bays while on work purposes when displaying the Critical Care Government pass. Charges are still in force in all council car parks.

Key workers include the following:

  • NHS staff;
  • Health and social care workers;
  • NHS Covid-19 volunteers.

We await confirmation from the government on when the critical care key worker pass will expire.

Our enforcement team have been instructed to issue a PCN if in doubt, as a few people are generally abusing these concessions. The appeals team will then seek evidence accordingly.

All car parks are open, except for Victoria Road, which is being used as a Covid-19 testing centre. 

Planning+

In line with MHCLG guidance, we will be implementing the following measures until further notice:    

Relaxation of some planning restrictions – Class DA

The government have relaxed planning restrictions on pubs and restaurants allowing them to operate as takeaways during this difficult period.

To take advantage of this use class, you must:

  • Notify us that you have started or will start to operate as a takeaway. You can do this by emailing the planning team.
  • Please include your business address and business contact details on your email.
  • There is no fee payable and no application form required.

View the statutory instrument regarding these restrictions.

Submission of planning applications

Submission of planning applications should be by electronic submission, via the Planning Portal, where possible.

An alternative option to online submission is via email to planning.help@ashford.gov.uk however, please consider file sizes when using this submission method. Arrangements may need to be made for file transfer by a document sharing facility. For further guidance, please seek direction via the planning help email.

We are still able to receive and process manual application submissions, however, there can be significant delays in us being able to process them. Electronic submission is therefore encouraged to ensure timely registration and processing of applications.

Commenting on planning applications?

Please use the online comment tool to make your representations on planning applications.

If your preference is to submit a manual representation by post, we would suggest you allow time for postal delays.

Providing us with an email address when submitting your comments enables us to ensure you are kept informed at relevant stages of the application as efficiently as possible and minimises the risk of printing or postal delays in these current circumstances.

Submission of materials for discharge

The submission of physical materials for approval in order to discharge a condition will not be possible. Photographs of materials should be submitted instead to planning.help@ashford.gov.uk.

Pre-application advice

Our pre-application service is now available again however, delays to published turnaround times are likely. To a degree this will depend on the complexity of the advice sought and the need for a site visit. In the latter situation, it might be that the advice cannot be given until a site visit can happen. Pre-app meetings to discuss planning proposals will no longer take place in person.  Should a meeting be essential during this period, arrangements will be made for virtual meetings to take place, appreciating the limitations this may bring. Meetings, however, will be at officers' discretion.

Site visits

Site visits are being considered on a case by case basis. If a site visit is necessary then the case officer will be in touch with the applicant/agent. The nature of the visit will depend on the nature of the application and the need to access particular parts of an application site. At all times officers will be conducting their business fully in accordance with Central Government Guidelines.  In the event an applicant does not wish for a site visit to take place during restricted/lockdown periods, an extension of time will need to be agreed to allow a decision to be made as soon as the site visit has taken place.

Planning committee meetings

Planning Committee meetings continue to take place virtually. Please note that any member of the press and public may watch and listen to proceedings at this ‘virtual’ meeting via a weblink which will be publicised on our home page at least 24 hours before the meeting. Members of the press and public may tweet, blog etc. during the live broadcast as they would be able to during a regular Committee meeting at the Civic Centre.

Appeals

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) have highlighted the importance of referring to their webpages during the Coronavirus outbreak for up-to-date information about how best to correspond with them during this time. Submission of representations should be via the Appeals Casework Portal whenever possible. 

Please note that the PINS office is currently closed and therefore they are unable to receive postal representations

Display of site notices

Applicants/agents where necessary will be asked to print out and display a site notice at/near the site in accordance with instructions provided in the initial acknowledgement letter. In the event that this cannot happen then an extension of time can be agreed to allow a decision to be made as soon as the necessary publicity, and, if necessary, a site visit has been carried out. The officer will continue to work on the consideration of the planning application in the usual manner in the meantime.

Notifying neighbours of planning applications

Neighbour notification letters have been reinstated but we would also encourage people to sign up to our ‘applications near me’ facility on our website in order to receive alerts of applications according to your preferences which will reduce the impact of any postal or processing delays during restricted/lockdown periods.  

In addition to neighbour notification letters, there may also be a situation where a corresponding site notice also needs to be displayed and this might not be possible (see display of site notices above). In this situation an extension of time can be agreed to allow a decision to be made as soon as the necessary publicity and, if necessary, a site visit has been carried out. The officer will continue to work on the consideration of the planning application in the usual manner in the meantime. Parish councils will continue to be notified.

A decision will not be issued until the full statutory consultation process has been carried out.

Viewing Sensitive File Content

In normal circumstances the only way to view would be on request (by prior appointment) at the Civic Centre. However, we are aware that sensitive information cannot be viewed at the Civic Centre due to the current Coronavirus restrictions and the Civic Centre being closed. We are working to resolve this issue and will update this notice accordingly if the situation changes.

In the meantime, please submit any comments in the normal way though Planning Comments, which will then be taken into consideration.

Guidance on extension of construction site working hours

Following the government's Written Ministerial Statement of 13 May 2020 and the subsequent draft guidance: Construction site hours deemed consent (published 25 June 2020), developers can apply to the local planning authority under section 74B of the Town and County Planning Act 1990 to extend hours of working on construction sites. This is to allow the continuation of construction activities in line with the latest social distancing guidance on construction and other outdoor work and enable the economic benefits of developments in order to help aid the national recovery. View government guidance note.

Play Areas and Parks+

Our parks and play areas are open and are being maintained as normal, however we are not cleansing play equipment and advise people to take their own hand sanitiser and observe good hand hygiene.  If you do go to a play park or use one of our parks for exercise please follow all government guidance.

Public Toilets+

Public toilets at New Rents and Victoria Park are open. Some toilets in the Community Toilet Scheme remain open. These are as follows:

  • County Square
  • Stag Coffee
  • Muffin Break
  • The Phoenix
  • Little Tea Pot
  • Mcdonalds
  • Pizza Express
  • New Rents

Street Naming and Numbering+

Manual submission of requests is not possible until further notice.  All applications must be submitted using our online form and online payment tools.


View our staying Covid-19 secure poster [pdf] 323KB to see how we are complying with government guidance to manage the risk of Covid-19.

View the Ashford Borough Council Covid Secure Statement [pdf] 126KB.

KCC Services

Many public services are provided by Kent County Council (KCC), including the following:
  • Road repairs (potholes)
  • Recycling sites
  • Street lighting
  • Education
  • Social care
  • Bus passes
  • Libraries

View the latest updates on these services on the KCC website.

Social care needs

Concerned about an adult? Call 03000 416161 or email social.services@kent.gov.uk.

Concerned about a child? Call 03000 411111 or email social.services@kent.gov.uk.

If outside of normal office hours, please call 03000 419191.

If you are concerned about neglect or abuse of children or adults then visit KCC's online information on safeguarding.

Utilities

For information about your utilities, please visit the following links: