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 Tuesday 26 May 2020
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.
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 announced the reopening of its Household Waste and Recycle Centres to the public for essential use from Friday 15 May 2020. From Wednesday 13 May, people will be able to book a slot to use the centres either online or over the phone. Book a recycling centre slot online.
- If your savings are below £10k (£16k for pensioners) you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction. To estimate your entitlement you can visit https://www.entitledto.co.uk/
- If you do qualify for help towards paying your Council Tax, you can make a claim online
- If your savings are above £10k or you don’t qualify for Council Tax Reduction, but your income has dropped or you are experiencing cash flow problems you can contact us and we can either reduce your instalments temporarily, or spread them over 12 months rather than the usual 10 months. To discuss your Council Tax instalments please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are still struggling to make payments during this time you can make an application for an Exceptional Circumstances Payment. You don’t need to qualify for Council Tax Reduction to make a claim for Exceptional Circumstances Payment.
- If you would like to talk through your options our Welfare Intervention Officers can help
- For more detailed information on Universal Credit, Council Tax Reduction, Local Housing Allowance and employees please visit our Coronavirus Benefits Advice page.
A-Z of Other Services
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.
There will be no public meetings of the council or its committees or sub committees until further notice.
Ashford Borough Council held its first two fully virtual Planning Committee meetings on Wednesday 22 April 2020 and Wednesday 6 May 2020, respectively.
Details on future virtual meetings will follow in due course.
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).
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.
We are particularly interested in any non-food business that is now providing a food service, to ensure that all relevant hygiene rules are being followed. This also applies to community organised food services. All those supplying food are legally required to register their activity on the government website. This a free service and is easily completed.
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 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.
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.
For events on council land, we are only able to accept bookings for events which will take place after 31 July 2020.
Applications for events after this date 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.
The Council’s Aspire Landscape Management team will continue to carry out grounds maintenance work at safety critical sites where line of site must be maintained; and also where trees have become/threaten to become unstable and must have action taken/be felled and cleared. No non-urgent tree work will be undertaken until further notice.
The team will also continue to maintain lifebelts alongside water courses.
Aspire will also maintain public access to parks and open spaces (unless national guidance changes) and ensure the safety and appearance of those sites. This will involve a tractor driver only, isolated from the public in the cab, and also single staff working on hand-operated power tools only, all while continuing to observe rules on social distancing.
Please note that some of the Aspire staff are now assisting with work related to the council's community support hub.
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.
Manual submission is not possible until further notice. All applications must be submitted using our online portal or via the NLIS service.
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.
Our Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) have returned to the streets to give warnings to those who are parking in contravention, for example on double yellow lines. This includes parking which may prevent access for emergency and waste collection vehicles or impact the safety of pedestrians.
We are allowing residents who are permit holders to park their vehicles for free in our car parks in order to free up the residential areas which will no doubt become more congested with more people being at home. You will need to display your parking permit.
Key workers are also able to park for free in our car parks and on-street parking bays. Key workers should display supporting evidence in their windscreen, such as photocopies of their work pass (with sensitive information removed), or a letter or evidence from their employer.
Charges are still in force in all council car parks.
All car parks open except for Edinburgh Road.
All expired permits will be honoured for a one-month grace period.
We are keeping the situation under constant review and updates will be provided here.
Relaxation of some planning restrictions – Class DA
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.
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 email@example.com 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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 are being considered on a case by case basis. If entering the site is a necessity, then the site visit will be delayed until it is considered safe to do so.
Planning committee meetings
Ashford Borough Council held its first fully virtual Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 22 April. The next virtual Planning Committee will be held on Wednesday 20 May. 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 the homepage of our website 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.
Changes to delegations have been implemented in order to reduce the workload on the Planning Committee at this difficult time:
New delegations to the Strategic Development and Delivery Manager and the Development Management Manager:-
Reserved Matters Applications for approval of Appearance, Layout and Scale.
Applications to remove or vary a Planning Condition on a previous Permission (Section 73 applications).
New delegations to the Head of Planning and Development, after consultation with the Ward Member provided that the Head of Planning and Development has no involvement in the original consideration and making of the Orders in question:
Confirmation of Tree Preservation Orders following objection(s) being received.
These 3 new Delegations apply from 9 April 2020 for 6 months (ending on 7 October 2020) for all pending applications (whenever received), and all Tree Preservation Orders (whenever made). A review of their operation will be carried out during that time.
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:
We have reinstated the neighbour notification letter. There might, however, 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. We would still 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. 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.
Parks are still open and are being maintained as normal. If you do go to a park for your one permitted piece of exercise per day please maintain social distancing.
Please note that play areas are closed. However there is evidence that people are removing or destroying closure signs and allowing their children to use the park. The council is replacing the signs in an attempt to deter the public from using these sites during the outbreak.
Manual submission of requests is not possible until further notice. All applications must be submitted using our online form and online payment tools.
- Road repairs (potholes)
- Recycling sites
- Street lighting
- Social care
- Bus passes
Social care needs
Concerned about an adult? Call 03000 416161 or email email@example.com.
Concerned about a child? Call 03000 411111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.