Councils remind residents to recycle responsibly

Thousands of residents in southern Oxfordshire have found their recycling bins unemptied each week because they have put the wrong things in them.

Putting non-recyclable items in recycling can contaminate a whole truckload, which is then rejected at the recycling facility. This turns neighbours’ recycling into rubbish and ultimately wastes energy and raw materials by removing these items from the recycling process.

Bin crews in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse districts have stepped up monitoring of recycling bins in recent months as the lockdown has meant an increase in household waste, which has meant an increased risk of people putting the wrong items in recycling bins.

To remind residents about what can (and can’t) be recycled, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have devised a new recycling quiz available here

https://survey.southandvale.gov.uk/s/TheGreenRecyclingBinQuiz/

During one week of recycling collections in the past month there were

  • 3,801 reports of wrong items found in recycling bins in South Oxfordshire
  • 2,211 reports of wrong items found in recycling bins in Vale of White Horse

Bins found with incorrect items for recycling were left unemptied.

The vast majority were rejected because residents had put black or coloured bin bags into recycling bins. Crews cannot see what is in them and so won’t empty the bin. The next biggest category of rejections was because food was found in the green bin. Food contaminates recycling making it unrecyclable. Food can be collected in food bins and taken to a separate facility where it is transformed into electricity and fertiliser.

Textiles, like old T-shirts and odd socks are another reason for crews to leave recycling bins unemptied. Although both councils collect textiles for recycling at a different facility, they must be left in a tied carrier bag next to the green bin. Other non-recyclable items which are regularly found by bin crews in recycling bins are polystyrene, plastic toys, garden waste, electrical items, wood and nappies.

These items cannot be sorted at the recycling centres and shouldn’t be put in the recycling as they can contaminate a whole truckload of recycling.

Councillor David Rouane, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for housing and the environment, said: “The waste contractor needs to know that the recycling is of a standard that is accepted by the materials recovery facility. With reduced staffing levels at the site, to maintain social distancing, and the increase in quantity of material being sent there, it is important that it receives good quality recycling.”

Councillor Jenny Hannaby, Vale of White Horse District Council cabinet member for  housing and the environment, said: “The councils and their waste contractor are determined to reduce contamination and residents can help them do it by educating themselves on what can and can’t go into the recycling bins. Residents could have some fun at the same time by trying our recycling quiz.”

Recycling should be in the green bin loose or in clear bags so the crews can easily identify that the contents are recyclable.

If they see non-recyclables, crews will leave the bins unemptied, record the reasons and leave a tag on the bin explaining to resident

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Pledge your support for Carers Week

To mark Carers Week (8 – 14 June), we’re celebrating the contribution carers make to families and communities across Oxfordshire.

A carer is someone who provides care and support to a family member or someone who has a disability, mental or physical illness, or who needs extra help as they grow older. There are around 6.5 million carers in the UK, looking after older, seriously ill or disabled people.

This year, people across the country are continuing to face new challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Many people are taking on more caring responsibilities for those who need support, in complex and different ways. This may include helping with personal care or practical tasks like shopping, running errands and cooking. Care also involves emotional support or supervision.

Carers need to be recognised for the difficulties they are experiencing and respected for all they are doing because there are a lot of people who are unpaid to perform carer duties. What will you do to recognise, support and celebrate carers? You can pledge your support for carers today.

We’re celebrating carers in all scenarios and their valuable contribution to Oxfordshire communities…

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OXFORDSHIRE SOUTH AND VALE CITIZENS ADVICE – NEW TRUSTEES NEEDED

Role: Trustees (Data Protection, GDPR, IT and Fund Raising)

Organisation:  Oxfordshire South and Vale Citizens Advice

Location:  Head Office, Abbey House, Abingdon, OX14 3JD

We are looking for two new Trustees to join our Board and oversee data protection and GDPR, IT strategy and fund raising. We are also keen to recruit Trustees who live in the Vale of the White Horse district.

Trustees are asked to attend six Board meetings a year, held in the evening at various locations (now remotely). Each Trustee oversees a particular aspect of the charity’s work. 

We are a local charity providing the Citizens Advice service in South Oxfordshire and Vale of the White Horse. Our 160 volunteer advisers and nine full-time employed staff advise 11,000 people each year from four advice centres. Since March, our staff and volunteers have been operating our AdviceLine service from home.

People seek our advice on benefits, debt, housing, employment, relationship and consumer problems.  Following advice, nearly three quarters of clients are able to resolve their problem and we help most to find a way forward.

We are members of national Citizens Advice, which sets the advice standard and supports and audits us. Our funding comes from district, town and parish councils and local charities.

If you would like to discuss this opportunity, please contact Jon Bright, the Director, via jon.bright@osavcab.org.uk

Please apply via www.citizensadvice.org.uk/oxfordshire-south-vale 

Shielding the Vulnerable in Oxfordshire

On 23 March 2020 the Government announced: if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you’re strongly advised to stay at home, to protect your health and shield from the coronavirus. This includes organ transplant recipients, people living with cancer (or waiting for treatment) and people with severe respiratory conditions among others.

The aim of shielding is to strictly avoid any face-to-face contact with others, avoid someone who is displaying coronavirus symptoms and group gatherings for 12 weeks. More than 20,702 vulnerable people in Oxfordshire received a letter generated by GP surgeries, NHS records and health sources to identify them as high risk, advising them to stay home until 30 June.

From Monday 01 June 2020, vulnerable people will be allowed to go out with members of their household while maintaining social distancing. Those living alone can meet with someone from another household while maintaining social distancing. 

The county council, in partnership with district councils, the NHS, the voluntary sector and friends, neighbours and family in every community are collaboratively working hard to support those who registered as shielded. This begun for the Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) customer service team in March 2020.

Calls from the Customer Service team

When the pandemic begun it was clear our residents would require support with immediate needs including social care, safety concerns, urgent food requests and help with collecting medication. A shielded phone line was created so inbound calls could be received by the Social and Health Care Customer Service team to answer questions from callers. The team receive between 50 and a 100 calls a day with over 11,000 pro-active outbound calls having been made, to date.

Myra Evans is the Operations Manager for the Customer Service Centre:the shielded phone line is a clear route into the council for those identifying as ‘shielded’ and it allows vulnerable people to have their enquiry dealt with quickly. Helping people who identify as shielded has given the team a sense of doing something worthwhile that will make a positive difference in these unusual times.’

Welfare calls are arranged with our most vulnerable residents to make sure people are safe and well and have everything they need. The inbound and outbound pro-active calls to people on the shielded list are made by a group of 15-20 Customer Service Advisers (CSAs) in the Customer Service Centre (CSC), supported by a group of trained library colleagues.

In some circumstances the team will seek support from other teams including hospitals, GPs, adult and children’s social care teams to ensure we contact everyone on the shielded list. This ensures the most vulnerable people in our county have any urgent needs identified and resolved as quickly as possible.

Here are some examples of how the shielded phone line and welfare calls make a difference:

  • A customer service team member called a shielded resident who was identified as needing support. The only information we had was that this family had four young children, were under pressure and struggling to cope. We asked how they were coping and what they needed. Within 24 hours the resident had called us back to say they had received a parcel with food, sanitary items and everything else they needed and more. They were extremely grateful.
  • A lady we contacted was extremely grateful for the welfare call. She didn’t need anything at the time but couldn’t thank our officer enough for checking on her. She was so impressed by the amount of support that had become available and she took the Shielding phone number in case she needed anything in the future.
  • A lady was called, and she explained her fire alarms were not working and there was a risk as she is on oxygen. We immediately arranged for someone to call her back from our Social and Health Care Team to discuss this need and arranged a visit from our Fire and Rescue Service while observing social distancing.

Cllr Ian Corkin is the Cabinet Member for Council Business & Partnerships said: “As the impact of the pandemic became urgent, we were able to create this phone line to step up and respond to the needs of our residents. We are reassured people are safe because we are contacting them regularly. The council is working as a broker to support people with help from the City and District councils and we have a huge army of volunteers to help individuals in villages and towns. It’s been an incredible operation and effort and I would like to thank everyone involved!”

An army of kind volunteers

The local voluntary and community sector is a simple point of contact for those who have different and important needs to ensure they are not isolated. Voluntary group Oxfordshire All In (OAI) has a team of 45 active members who are part-time volunteers (some are on secondment from other charities). The network of volunteers has a remit of assisting 500 volunteer-based Community Support Groups (CSGs) across the county with information and resources. This ranges from the large towns where groups can have 1000s of volunteers to small street-based neighbourhood groups, of three or four people.

Meanwhile, Oxford Hub staff are working in collaboration with Oxford City Council and OCC to deliver Oxford Together, their volunteer programme that provides support to people in Oxford City. With 5500+ volunteer sign-ups, Oxford Together volunteers provide support in a practical or social way.

Lizzie Shelmerdine is the Programmes Manager at Oxford Hub: Our volunteers are so enthusiastic when we contact them with referrals – they’re always raring to go, to work out how we can provide the support needed, which is wonderful. We’ve delivered baby formula for new mums, lettuce for a man and his tortoise, collected books for a man who was missing his regular trips to the library, and have delivered thermometers for key workers who are monitoring their symptoms. We’ve had some lovely conversations with local people, and many people are so grateful for the support we’re providing.”

Where to get support:

  • The dedicated shielded phone line is available to anyone who has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and is worried and needs support. The team will be able to offer advice on a range of issues when you contact them on 01865 89 78 20 or email shield@oxfordshire.gov.uk. Effective from Saturday (30th May) the opening hours will be 9am-6pm Monday to Friday and 10am-2pm on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
  • If you live in Oxford City, you can also phone 01865 24 98 11 between 8am and 5pm or visit www.oxford.gov.uk/CommunityAssistance
  • For those residents who are not in a high-risk category but still in need of local community and voluntary support, there are several initiatives taking place across the county. Visit Oxfordshire All In or Oxford Together for more information on community support near you.

Air pollution reduced by more than half in parts of southern Oxfordshire as walking and cycling increases

Today (5 June) is World Environment Day and South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have announced that following lockdown there has been a marked reduction in air pollution in our districts – down by nearly 60 per cent in one location. The lack of traffic and the increase in walking and cycling has helped improve the local air quality across southern Oxfordshire.

The councils’ Environmental Protection team has been busy monitoring the effect of the lockdown and the accompanying lack of traffic on the levels of pollution, focussing on the areas designated as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs)*.

There has been a marked reduction (see graphs and table below) in Nitrogen Dioxides (NO2) in our air. NO2 is created by the burning of fuel from our cars and can be the cause of breathing difficulties, especially for those with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. It can also contribute toward a number of other negative impacts on our health.

The councils monitor the air quality using a mixture of static automatic analysers and diffusion tubes**. Static analysers are fixed next to the roadside, they monitor the air quality and send data analysis every minute to the Oxfordshire Air Quality website.

The councils have four static automatic analysers. They are in

  • Duke Street, Henley
  • High Street, Wallingford
  • Couching Street in Watlington
  • Stert Street in Abingdon

South Oxfordshire District Council Cabinet member for housing and the environment, Cllr David Rouane said, “We have always suspected that traffic is the main contributor to air pollution in certain areas of our districts and now this reduction in traffic followed by the marked reduction in air pollution seems to bear this out. It is important we act on this information to ensure this improvement in our air quality continues and is not just during lockdown.”

Vale of White Horse District Council Cabinet member for housing and the environment, Cllr Jenny Hannaby, said: “During the past months many people have discovered (or re-discovered) walking and cycling and the benefits it brings both the environment and our health. I will be urging the county council to make the most of the money they are getting from the Government to improve road safety so that people feel able to continue walking and cycling.”

To read the full article please click Vale of White Horse news

Government Discretionary Business Grant now open for applications

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils will accept applications from noon Wednesday 3 June 2020 from small businesses for a share of around £1.9 million of government support following the coronavirus outbreak.

The councils are urging all eligible businesses that were ineligible for the Small Business Grant scheme and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Schemes to apply but stressing that the government fund available will only provide enough meaningful support for a very small percentage of eligible businesses.

The government has provided the mandatory national criteria for the funds, but to assess the applications fairly and transparently, the councils have created a detailed discretionary grants scheme to try and identify the businesses most in need.

To apply businesses must have been trading on 11 March 2020 and must meet certain criteria. The full details of the scheme and eligibility criteria are on the councils’ business support website at svbs.co.uk.

Business owners have until midday on Wednesday 17 June to apply for the Discretionary Business Fund at svbs.co.uk/top-up-scheme

To be able to assess the applications fairly, the councils will need to wait until the application process has closed before applications can be ranked, and so no decisions will be made on applications until after the deadline. It is likely to take a week or two after the deadline to carry out the ranking process and the necessary final checks.

Once that process has been carried out, the councils will notify all applicants whether they’re successful or not. Successful businesses will be provided with an acceptance letter that they’ll need to sign and return before the payments can be made.

While waiting for the decisions, the councils are urging applicants to look at and consider the alternative support for funding in case they’re not successful – this information is all available at svbs.co.uk/ineligible-for-grants

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said, “This is a really difficult time for a large number of businesses and unfortunately we do not expect the money to cover very many of the eligible businesses that apply so we’ll be very carefully scoring the applications – it will be a delicate balance to prioritise those that are most in need.”

Cllr Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet Member for Finance at South Oxfordshire, said, “We’re committed to making sure there’s help and support to all our businesses, and because we know only a few will be able to benefit from this fund, we’ve put together lots of information on our website to help our local organisations to find alternative options and support.”

The funds will be subject to tax for businesses that make an overall profit once the grant income is included.

Business owners that have any further questions on the grant scheme can email the councils’ Business Support team – business.support@southandvale.gov.uk.

Parking charges to be re-introduced in South and Vale car parks

Parking charges will be re-introduced in district council car parks across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse from Monday 8 June.  

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have allowed people to park for free since 26 March, to support key workers and those who need to shop for essential food or medical supplies during the Coronavirus pandemic after travel restrictions were put in place. 

However with many restrictions now lifted, and following the government’s announcement that outdoor markets and car showrooms can re-open on 1 June and non-essential retail on 15 June, the councils will now re-introduce parking fees.

The move will help to improve the availability of parking spaces as people start to visit local shops again and encourage them to consider using more sustainable travel methods when visiting our town centres.

Car parks will operate as normal, meaning that motorists must display a ticket or have a valid online or text payment confirmation, including during any free hours offered in the charging period.  Normal rates will apply.  New permits will be issued or re-issued to anyone whose permit would’ve normally expired since lockdown began. 

NHS staff and care workers who display a national COVID-19 pass can continue to park for free.  To claim a pass, staff should email carparks.southandvale.uk@sabagroup.com, including proof of their employment.

Cllr Jenny Hannaby, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I’m sure many people will have appreciated being able to park for free during the recent weeks.  However, with restrictions being reduced and shops soon be able to open again, we must now ensure that we have sufficient spaces available for people who wish to visit our local shops.”

Cllr David Rouane, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “To support NHS staff and care workers we will continue to offer them free parking when displaying a COVID-19 pass.  This is just a small gesture of thanks for the vital work they have carried out, and continue to carry out, during the pandemic.”

For more information about district council car parks please visit southoxon.gov.uk/parking or whitehorsedc.gov.uk/parking.

Oxfordshire Libraries May 2020 Digital Update

Applying to join Oxfordshire Libraries online

Go to www.libcat.oxfordshire.gov.uk  and click ‘Join the Library’ and fill in your details.

We will email your account access details back to you within 1-2 working days

eBooks and eAudio https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/ebooks

Choose from a great range of fiction and non-fiction reading for adults and children. We are investing in more titles in response to the current situation. Download the Libby or Borrowbox apps.

eMagazines and eNews https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/enews  Pressreader and RBdigital magazines provide thousands of UK and international titles of leisure reading or current affairs for you to read online or download. Time to garden, get creative or find out what’s going on around the world through curated news content.

Digital learning and study resources

https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/

leisure-and-culture/libraries/reference-online/general-reference Britannica Online,

dictionaries and reference books provide high quality homework support and resources for personal study

eMusic

https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/leisure-and-culture/libraries/reference-online/books-and-music   – relax and enjoy the best of recordings streamed through Naxos Music Library. Over 60,000 albums to choose from.

Follow us on social media

www.facebook.com/Oxfordshirelibraries

www.twitter.com/Oxonlibraries

Sign up to our eNewsletter www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/librariesnewsletter

Download the Oxfordshire Libraries app to your tablet or phone from your app store.

Lots of our digital services have their own apps, too such as Libby for Overdrive eBooks, Borrowbox, Pressreader, RBdigital Magazines and Naxos Music Library.

Council offers big thank you to Oxfordshire residents as recycling sites reopen

At the end of the first day of reopening, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member Cllr Yvonne Constance wanted to thank all those who visited for playing their part.

The sites at Alkerton, Ardley, Dix Pit, Drayton, Oakley Wood, Redbridge and Stanford in the Vale have been extremely busy since they opened at 8.00am this morning but Cllr Constance said it was encouraging that residents had understood the importance of the social distancing measures the Council had introduced.

“We were committed to get these seven sites open and we knew today would be very busy with people bringing in their essential waste. As expected, traffic queues have built up but our residents have played their part by being considerate and adhering to the revised site layouts.

“We know things at the recycling sites will be busy for the foreseeable future, so I hope people will continue to be patient. My main plea to residents is to consider whether they can wait a few days or longer before visiting their nearest site. The more we can stagger waste coming in, the less traffic will queue and the easier it will be for everyone.”

The council asks residents to remember:

• You should only visit the site if you cannot safely store your waste at home.
• Revised opening hours: All sites will open at 8am and close at 4pm to allow them to be cleaned for the following day. Please do not arrive before 8am.
• For an initial period, no hire vans or trailers will be permitted onto sites.
• Vehicle numbers and parking bays are reduced on site, and once the maximum is reached the site will operate on a one-out one-in basis. PLEASE NOTE the potential for long delays and queues.
• Please follow any instructions given by traffic marshals to ensure queues are managed safely
• We will continue to charge for non-household waste brought to sites and this will be by contactless card payment only. If you are unable to pay by contactless means you will not be able to deposit non household waste at the site.
• Residents must self-police and abide by social distancing of two metres from site teams and other residents at all times.
• Site teams will be there for guidance only and will not be able to assist residents in unloading their waste.
• Only one resident is permitted out of the vehicle, unless it is to remove a heavy load which would otherwise be unsafe to remove. Visits are best made by just one person per vehicle.
• In line with Public Health England guidance, residents who are vulnerable, or who are showing symptoms which may indicate coronavirus, should not visit household recycling centres.
Specific rules and restrictions will vary by site. Please refer to the county council website before leaving home to familiarise yourself with these and to avoid frustration and delay:

www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wastereopenquestions