Day 74 of (fluctuating) Lockdown – the Town Centre edition

Day 74 of (fluctuating) Lockdown

Day 74 sees a focus on Colchester town centre to start with – actions to make it greener and easier to social-distance kick us off:

Greener Town CentreThumbs Up for ‘Safer, Greener, Healthier’ Town Centre

Health experts and leading cycling and walking campaigners have welcomed ambitious plans to make Colchester town centre streets safer, greener and healthier.

Responding directly to the current COVID-19 pandemic the plans allow people to self-distance and still travel safely by creating new lanes for cycling and walking in Colchester.

The launch date for this revolution in motion is set for Monday 15th June, with activity taking place in the town from Tuesday 9th June. The project will ensure areas of the Town Centre with some of the highest footfall are safe and healthy places to move through, following the easing of lockdown restrictions and the re-opening of shops and businesses.

Taking Lead from Cyclists & Walkers

Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council have taken their lead from many hundreds of people who have been cycling and walking more on short distances.

As a result, teams from the two councils have been working together to design and implement one of the first projects to make town centre public spaces safer for people. Called ‘Safer, Greener, Healthier’, the schemes aim to provide bigger, safer spaces for city-centre shoppers, residents, workers and visitors to be able to social distance.

Interim Measures

A series of interim traffic measures in Colchester to create more shared space for walking and cycling will be introduced starting from 15th June.

20mph limits, temporary barriers and signs providing shared spaces will be introduced on the High Street, Queen Street/St Botolph’s, Head Street, St Johns Street and other town centre roads, and on the vital corridor between the main rail station and town centre, including North Station Road and North Hill.

Funding

The project is funded by part of the initial £1.9m Emergency Active Travel Fund for Essex recently announced by Government for such schemes.   It is driven by immediate public health requirements such as social distancing, but in encouraging walking and cycling it will enable healthier and greener ways of getting around.  The total money that could be made available to Essex by the Government if further plans are approved is up to £9.6m.

All the plans have been shared with the local BID (Business Improvement District), health experts, cycling and walking Groups and leaders from all local political parties.  Bus routes, taxi bays and delivery access in the streets included in the scheme will be maintained wherever possible, although parking may be suspended.

Get Involved

Why not log your cycle ride on some of the enhanced routes for National Bike Week at www.cyclinguk.org/bikeweek/7daysofcycling and let others in Essex know what you’re doing too at www.lovetoride.net/essex

People can share comments on the measures with Essex and Colchester councils at [email protected]

Please see the full map and scheme details on our website at: www.essex.gov.uk/safer-greener-healthier.

MiPermit AppCheaper Town Centre Parking

Colchester Borough Council will be supporting town centre businesses by allowing people to visit the town for longer and pay less for parking.

From 6 June, anyone who pays to park with the MiPermit parking app will be entitled to an additional 50% extra parking time, for free. The offer is available in all Colchester town centre car parks, except for Vineyard Street (as it has a maximum two-hour stay) and will run until September. The offer is only available when drivers pay for their parking through the MiPermit cashless app, text or phone.

Blue badge holders will also be able to park for FREE for five hours, rather than the current three-hour limit. Holders of blue badges will not have to take any action besides displaying a valid blue badge and clock set to time of arrival.

Drivers who have not used MiPermit before are encouraged to complete the quick, free set-up of a secure account at home before they visit. The app can be downloaded here with other payment options including the online portal, text or phone call.

By using the MiPermit app drivers have the added benefit of not having to cut a trip short as you can top up your parking without going back to the car. The easy-to-use system can also give optional reminders of when parking time is running out and help guide users unfamiliar with Colchester back to where their car is parked.

To find out more about parking in the town, including locations of car parks and year-round deals, visit www.colchester.gov.uk/parking.

Essex Rural Strategy flyerEssex Rural Strategy

The Essex Rural Partnership is consulting with the public.  The public consultation survey is still live and will be open for responses until 30th June 2020. To access it please click here.  The objectives of the strategy are to:

  • Set out a shared vision for the future of rural Essex,
  • Highlight priorities for action over the next 4 years,
  • Represent the needs of rural Essex to all levels of Government,
  • Encourage greater collaboration between organizations working in rural Essex, and
  • Provide an evidence-base for new initiatives for funding bids.

The survey contains questions on a broad range of issues relevant to life in rural Essex today.  It also has a specific section for businesses, and questions for parish and town councils.

We appreciate the current unprecedented times of COVID-19 are far outweighing other matters for some. However, this consultation is part of future-proofing our Rural Essex. It takes approx. 10 minutes to complete please take the time out of your day and help shape a large part of Essex – in fact, 72%!

More Scams!

Essex Police are reporting an uptick in two new Phishing Email Scams:

TV Licensing

This month, Action Fraud have received over 260 reports of COVID-19 TV scam phishing emails. The emails purporting to be from TV Licensing claim that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution. Recipients are told that they are eligible for a “COVID19 Personalized Offer” of six months free. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.

HMRC Emails

CIFAS (the UK’s leading fraud prevention organisation) are warning of a new HMRC scam. This scam appears to be specifically targeting people who are out of work or working less due to coronavirus; it offers £1,000s in grants.

You are asked to click a link to check eligibility and answer questions designed to steal personal information. CIFAS are stating that this scam comes from the email address “[email protected]”, but as new frauds spring up every day, this could change.

What to Do?

Whenever you get an email you didn’t expect, remember to Take Five: –

  • Stop
    Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge
    Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect
    Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Finally, here’s where you can get the latest information on coronavirus-related scams and how to protect yourself: http://actionfraud.police.uk/covid19.

Hand washing on day 49Christian Aid News

Thanks to everyone who took part in whatever way in the ‘virtual’ Christian Aid Week.

£1,285 most of which is gift-aided has been raised to date on the Colchester Christian Aid Just Giving page is . A number of the donations can be identified as from West Bergholt residents. No doubt some other local supporters would have chosen to donate directly through the national website but, of course, we have no way of identifying these.

All their donations will be used to support some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our world. If you haven’t got around to it yet here is a last chance to do so at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Geoff-Casey.

COVID-19 Jokes

  • Finland has just closed its borders. No one will be crossing the finish line now.
  • So many coronavirus jokes out there, it’s a pundemic.
  • Die to the quarantine, I’ll only be telling inside jokes.
  • There will be a minor baby boom in 9 months.  Then, one day in 2033, we will witness the rise of the quaranteens.
  • The World Health Organisation has announced that dogs cannot contract COVID-19. You can, therefore, release dogs previously held in quarantine.  To be clear, WHO let the dogs out!
  • Why do they call it the novel coronavirus? It’s a long story.
  • I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now but you’ll have to wait two weeks to see if you got it.