Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils Newsletter
BEWARE OF COVID-19 SCAMS
Unscrupulous criminals are exploiting fears about COVID-19 to prey on members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends. National Trading Standards is warning people to remain vigilant following a rise in coronavirus-related scams that seek to benefit from the public’s concern and uncertainty over COVID-19. Members of the public should ignore scam products such as supplements and anti-virus kits that falsely claim to cure or prevent COVID-19. In some cases individuals may be pressurised on their own doorsteps to buy anti-virus kits or persuaded into purchasing products that are advertised on their social media feeds. In addition, some call centres that previously targeted UK consumers with dubious health products are now offering supplements that supposedly prevent COVID-19. Communities are also being urged to look out for signs of neighbours being targeted by doorstep criminals. While there are genuine groups of volunteers providing help during self-isolation, there have been reports of criminals preying on residents – often older people or people living with long-term health conditions – by cold-calling at their homes and offering to go to the shops for them. The criminals often claim to represent charities to help them appear legitimate before taking the victim’s money. There are genuine charities providing support, so consumers should be vigilant and ask for ID from anyone claiming to represent
COVID-19 scams identified include:
Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return. Doorstep cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.
Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.
Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.
Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.
Fake sanitisers, face masks and Covid19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.
As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.
There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.
Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence People are being encouraged to protect their neighbours by joining Friends Against Scams, which provides
free online training to empower people to take a stand against scams. To complete the online modules, visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.
Members of the public are being urged to keep in contact with family members regularly and inform them of the most prolific scams and the possible dangers to them. If someone has been targeted by a scam it can be reported to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by calling 0300 123 2040. For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, visit:
MP BOB SEELY – Update for this week:
• We now have a package of support from government for the self-employed. Details can be found
• The Government has given the IW Council over £5 million to help the Island respond to pressures on services brought about by COVID-19. The money will be used to enhance hospital discharge processes so patients who no longer need urgent treatment can return home safely and quickly, making beds available to deal with people needing urgent care, including those being cared for with coronavirus.
• The ferries have now reduced their services significantly due to falling demand. Routes remain open for medical and food supplies, ambulances, key worker travel and postal services but visitors are no longer coming. I thank the ferry companies and Visit Isle of Wight for their work on that. The police are also looking at ways to help ensure visitors are deterred for the time being.
• The government has given £62.8 million to the IW Council to support Island businesses. The money is to help support eligible business ratepayers and businesses and should be paid out to Island businesses from next week.
• A new Rural Business Resilience Fund has been created specifically for IW businesses by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership. Natural Enterprise is managing the fund. It will be used to support small and medium sized businesses on the Island.
• The Health Secretary announced on Thursday that NHS debts will be written off. We are looking at whether this includes the IOW.
• The IOW NHS Trust has been working hard to ensure it is ready to respond to an increase in COVID-19 patients as we go through the next few weeks. All non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments have been stopped. The Community Unit has moved to Ryde Health and Wellbeing Centre, which has freed up beds on the main hospital site. Wards have been reconfigured to create Isolation Wards to treat patients confirmed as having Covid-19. The number of ventilated beds in the Intensive Care Unit has been increased. The Trust has been working with military planners to deliver a further 200 additional beds at the St Mary’s site. Other potential sites have also been identified.
• We are currently looking at ways to get more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Island to ensure all of our care workers can be protected.
Statement from Richard Tyldesley, General Manager, Southern Vectis, regarding the cancellation of specific public bus services on Sundays. In addition please noted the reductions of Southern Vectis on most routes Monday to Saturday commencing today (1st April) which are detailed on their website www.islandbuses.info
“Southern Vectis will be introducing revised timetables for this Sunday, and future Sundays until further notice. The main thing to highlight, is that as a result of negligible passenger numbers, routes 6, 12 & 38 will be withdrawn on Sundays and Bank Holidays. They will retain a Monday-Friday and Saturday service, though – this is just a change to Sunday services. Other routes will operate on reduced frequencies, but where possible we will try and retain key links for essential workers.” Local Councils affected by the cancellations of Sunday Bus Services:
Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council
Chillerton and Gatcombe Parish Council
Chale Parish Council
Niton and Whitwell Parish Council
Ventnor Town Council
Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council
Shorwell Parish Council
Brighstone Parish Council
Freshwater Parish Council
Totland Parish Council
Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council
VECTIS EQUINE VETS
If you could just let people know that we have a vet available at all times to attend any emergency situations. Also we are very happy to take phone calls and give advice, free of charge, over the phone if anyone is worried about their horse but doesn’t feel that it is an emergency situation. Contact us on our office number 01983 533799. Many thanks, Kate Vincett Vectis Equine Vets, Systems House, St Cross Lane, Newport, Isle of Wight. PO30 5BZ
Tel: 01983533799 Fax: 01983530078 www.vectisequinevets.co.uk
ISLE OF WIGHT POLICE
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We are occasionally having comments in the comments section of our posts reporting concerns around breaches of the new COVID-19 legislation and guidance. Whilst we do try and keep track and follow up these comments, it is not the best way to report your concerns.
We have set up a dedicated online way of reporting any issues in relation to COVID-19.
ISLE OF WIGHT FOODBANK
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Wow! Morrison’s have committed to giving £10 million pounds worth of goods to Foodbanks in the UK and
that includes us! At this time, still in such desperate need of food (thank you to ALL donations so far!) this is fantastic and will
greatly help us in continuing to support local people in crisis. We understand that it is sometimes hard enough to get food for yourself, but if we could all LEAVE some food on the shelves for the vulnerable and the key workers, GIVE some food to charity and BUY some food for
ourselves, we can make sure there is enough food for everyone.
THE ISLE OF WIGHT COUNCIL
Funding body WightAID have joined forces to ensure frontline charities to the coronavirus response receive the support they so desperately need.
For the next few months, WightAID will focus its grant giving to those in the most critical need. This includes — but is no way limited to — the Isle of Wight Foodbank as well as homelessness, mental health and bereavement charities working on the Island. Geoff Underwood, WightAID chairman and High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, said: “As we enter a period of considerable difficulty, it is even more important than ever for us to stay together and support those most inneed. “Hopefully, this pandemic will reduce to manageable levels within a few months, but we have a fight on our hands.
“Now more than ever, we need the people of the Isle of Wight to dig deep and support those less well off. Even though times will be difficult, now is the time for everyone to do their bit.” Businesses, both large and small, are being asked to show their resolve and put something towards their
community via WightAID. Every penny that you give will go straight to those charities and organisations — not individuals — working
with those in most need in the community. “With your help, we can weather this situation together. It’s a daunting time, and cash will be in short supply, but please do something — no matter how small,” said Mr Underwood.
Council leader Dave Stewart added: “The council is delighted to be working alongside WightAID in delivering crucial support to charities working at the forefront of the Covid-19 crisis. “While recognising the enormous strain being placed on our business community at this time, I would implore
you to give what you can to this important appeal.”
People can support WightAID here: www.wightaid.org
Parking charges across the Island are to be temporarily suspended by the Isle of Wight Council. All council car parks and the majority of on-street parking spaces will be free of charge until further notice — although residents must adhere to on-street parking time limits. Esplanades are not included and charging remains in place to deter people from travelling long distances to the coast during the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. At the same time, the authority is encouraging Islanders to use council car parks to free up much-needed on-street spaces for visiting key workers. Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart, said the authority recognised the severe financial strain Islanders were currently under. He said: “That is why we are going beyond the government’s offer of free car parking for critical workers in the NHS and social care during the Covid-19 outbreak. “However, let me be clear, the message remains: “Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” — you should not leave your home unless absolutely necessary.
“I would also ask residents to be considerate and leave spaces free next to pharmacies and supermarkets to allow people to get in and out quickly.”
In a further move to support Island residents, the authority has also announced it is to freeze direct debit payments for all parking permits for three months.
Residents do not need to contact the council or cancel the direct debit at their bank. The council will advise permit holders in advance of the payments recommencing.
The expiry date of all other paid for parking permits will automatically be extended by a further period of three months. At a meeting of the Isle of Wight Transport Infrastructure Board this morning (Wednesday 1 April), further alterations to cross-Solent ferry services were discussed. It is clear that an almost total drop in demand of passenger traffic, coupled with reduced freight volumes means that many services are now under-utilised and not required. All operators are also acutely aware of the need to ensure adequate resilience in staffing levels to ensure that a lifeline service is maintained to theIsland.
As a result of these factors both Red Funnel and Wightlink are making amendments to their timetables: Wightlink will be reducing the number of car ferry sailings on its Portsmouth to Fishbourne route and is suspending its Portsmouth to Ryde Fast Cat service. The revised car ferry schedule ensures that the demand from emergency services, freight operators, and other essential travellers will be met. Red Funnel is announcing a reduction in its Red Jet services outside peak travel times.
Full details of the timetable revisions will be announced by the operators.
Hovertravel will continue to provide its fast service, which not only carries foot passengers, but is also used by the Royal Mail and brings all the pharmaceuticals to the Island. Board chairman, Christopher Garnett, said: “These measures have the full support of the board and will ensure essential, effective and robust cross-Solent ferry services can continue at this very difficult time. The board and operators are working closely together to ensure full resilience for the Island is maintained in all key areas. “These are lifeline services for the Island, bringing in all our supplies and freight – including food and fuel – and providing key connectivity in areas such as mainland travel for hospital appointments, whether on foot
or by ambulance. “Each of the operators continues to put in enormous efforts to maintain these services in these unprecedented
times, including the promotion of ‘essential travel only’.” As part of the latest changes to services, all the operators are continuing to work together to maintain seamless services for passengers. As part of this, in the event the hovercraft is unable to operate due to weather conditions, Southern Vectis
will be arranging for its number 9 service to go via Wightlink’s Fishbourne terminal to provide a foot passenger connection from both Newport and Ryde.
The transport infrastructure board will continue to meet regularly to ensure that Islanders receive the best service possible through this very difficult time.
Children’s services on the Island have issued important guidance on what to do if you are worried a child or young person could be at risk of abuse during the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. It comes as charities nationally warn of an increased risk of harm, neglect and online abuse faced by vulnerable children amid the UK-wide lockdown due to the pandemic. Teachers are often the first to recognise the signs a child could be at risk of harm — but with children staying at home, there are concerns those signs could be harder to spot.
If you suspect child abuse:
• Do listen to the child.
• Do take what the child says seriously.
• Do act quickly.
• Do continue to offer support to the child.
• Don’t delay.
• Don’t probe or push the child for explanations.
• Don’t assume that someone else knows and will help the child. You must act.
• Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns, the child may need urgent protection and help.
If you are worried about a child or young person who could be in danger, or is suffering from harm or neglect, contact the Isle of Wight Council’s child protection service on 0300 300 0117. The line is open 24 hours a day.
In an emergency always contact the police by dialling 999.
Councillor Paul Brading, Cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “To many people, sending children home may seem like the safest option, but the sad reality is that not all children are safe at home.
“Teachers act as the eyes and ears of the community, and are often the first to spot signs of abuse and neglect, and can be fundamental in ensuring children receive the right support and protection.
“Daily contact with these trusted adults, also including youth and mental health workers, means children can raise issues that are worrying them, including abuse.
“In these difficult times, we all have a responsibility to look out for one another and this is particularly relevant for the well-being and protection of our children.
“If you have any concerns about the safety of a child or young person, please do contact our child protection service on 0300 300 0117, or if it’s an emergency, dial 999.”
Charities are also warning that young people staying at home are more likely to be spending more time online, meaning they could be more exposed to cyber bullying, sexual grooming, self-harm forums and other harmful content. To tackle these risks, parents should be having regular conversations with their children about what they are doing on the web and reassure them that they can talk about any worries they may have.
Childline (0800 11 11) has also published new content on Covid-19 to support children, young people and their parents and carers:Information and advice for children and young people on coronavirus. Tips and support for parents on talking to a child worried about coronavirus.
Army personnel have been deployed on the Isle of Wight to help with the reconfiguration of St Mary’s hospital as part of the national planned mutual aid arrangements for military support for major incidents. The NHS on the Island is putting in place its plans for the expected increase in people who need hospital treatment because of COVID-19. As part of this, a detachment of 40 men and women from the Scots Guards arrived on the Island on Saturday night. Their role is to support the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s Estates Department in implementing its plans to reconfigure large parts of the hospital so more beds will be available.
Work has already started at the St Mary’s site on converting the Laidlaw Day Hospital, the Education Centre and the Outpatients Appointments and Records Unit into in-patient accommodation for a possible extra 200 beds. Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “It’s no secret that across the NHS, and certainly here on the Island, people have been working very hard to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
and under extraordinary pressure. “Our teams at the hospital and in our ambulance, community and mental health services have risen to the
challenges of the last few weeks and we are hugely grateful for their hard work. But we know there is more work to come and we are doing everything we possibly can to be ready. “I am glad to welcome the Scots Guards to help us bring in 200 new beds to our hospital site. Having these brave men and women working alongside us will give us the extra support we need to get this huge amount of work done as quickly as possible.”Dave Stewart, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council said: “It is comforting to know that we now have the military’s aid for the plans we have to support our community throughout these unprecedented times.
“However, we should never lose sight of the fact that if everyone takes responsibility for their own actions and follows the very clear advice for social distancing and self-isolation, then we can slow down the spread of thevirus.
“We should stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
We recognise these are unprecedented times and very difficult for everyone. Now, as always, safety remains our absolute priority and we continue to take our responsibilities to managing the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak very seriously. Although a large part of the population has been asked to stay at home during this period, it is important that we keep the roads and surrounding areas properly maintained so that the key people who need to get to work, especially our NHS staff and emergency services, are able to do so without delay or increased road risk. Island Roads employees undertake a key role for the Island by keeping the highway network safe and free flowing. We are therefore continuing to undertake important tasks such as repairing road defects, keeping the streets clean and bins emptied, cutting the grass so that it does not reduce visibility and keeping the traffic signals and street lights working. We will also continue to deliver other maintenance and improvement tasks as these all contribute to a safer network for vehicles and pedestrians.
Our work falls within the construction sector where government advice is to continue with these activities. We have followed this advice and have adapted all our activities to comply with Public Health England Guidelines. We have separated our operational crews into two shifts and have staggered the start times to help keep our teams separate. We are now also operating with only one person in each vehicle for 99% of our activities and
have sourced additional vans to make this happen. We are helping our crews with safety equipment and providing guidance and support on hygiene standards. We have also set clear requirements on distancing from work colleagues and it is expected that this advice will be complied with for all but a limited number of activities where this may not be achievable.
As a result of all the above, the public may see our services being undertaken at different times – typically earlier or later in the day. This also gives us time between shifts for additional vehicle cleaning.
We will seek to minimise noise at these times in particular and while we apologise in advance for any disturbance these temporary new measures may cause, we are sure people understand this new way of working is in the interests of maintaining both the safety of our workforce and the community.
Furthermore, given all the above, we are suspending our highway and footway maintenance programmes, which require larger teams to work in close proximity, until it is safe to reinstate these activities.
We continue to work on the St Mary’s Junction Improvement scheme in line with current government advice to keep construction sites progressing where possible. We are also mindful of the impact the project has, under usual circumstances, on many people’s journeys every day and so we are keen to continue to deliver this in line with the agreed timetable.
However, work has to be balanced against the latest health advice and we are keeping this project under daily review. Fortunately, we are currently in a phase where required manpower levels are not as high as they have been during other elements of the scheme. This has made social distancing easier to achieve. While the information above outlines the current situation, naturally there is a risk that in the coming days and weeks, our staff become unavailable either through sickness, through self-isolation or because they have caring duties. In anticipation, we have undertaken contingency planning with our partners and supply chain to ensure we have the required staff and resources to undertake our responsibilities.
To assist us with managing any necessary highway reports, we would also encourage you to make use of our online reporting facilities. These can be found via the yellow button in the top right hand corner of our website homepage www.islandroads.com you can email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
We continue to take highway related calls via our normal phone number 01983 822440. This team also deals with any contact and responses relating to highway emergencies, so we would encourage people not to make contact for items that are non-essential or low priority. We continue to keep a close eye on the advice from the Government and our management team are regularly evolving our daily delivery approach to stay aligned with this continually changing situation. We will continue to keep our website updated with the latest relevant information. We appreciate your support and understanding during these times and hope you all keep safe and well.