Covid-19 News: Council sets out its key priorities in COVID recovery plan for Chichester District

Preventing homelessness, providing more community grants and helping to support the arts and tourism industry are some of the immediate key aims of a COVID recovery plan that have been set out for the Chichester District.

As well as approving a shorter term recovery plan covering the next 12 months, Chichester District councillors have also approved the process for developing a longer term plan which looks ahead to 2022 – 2023. This Future Services Framework will help councillors shape and set the types and levels of services to be provided. Councillors will review both plans every three months.

Over the next year the council will focus on four key recovery areas:

  • community and housing
  • economic
  • planning, health and environmental protection, and
  • organisational.

To boost the recovery of the arts and tourism sectors, councillors have agreed to contribute £20,000 from council reserves to an economic impact study for The Novium Museum, Chichester Festival Theatre and Pallant House Gallery. In addition, they also agreed to treble its annual funding for Visit Chichester to £150,000 as part of a five-year plan to support it following the coronavirus pandemic.

Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping are further key priorities. To support this, councillors have agreed to waive fees for the council’s own property management scheme Homefinder for the foreseeable future. The aim is to encourage more landlords onto the scheme in order to increase the amount of private rented accommodation available to people on housing benefits in the district.

The council is also working closely with the charities Stonepillow, Four Streets and HEART to secure medium and long term arrangements for rough sleepers who which allow them to move on from nightly paid placements and helping each client to accept a package of support.

Councillors have also agreed to spend £500,000 on creating a Community Recovery Grants Fund and an Economic Recovery Grants Fund.  

“As with communities up and down the country, the coronavirus pandemic has hit our district extremely hard, and we now need to ensure that we prioritise helping our businesses and residents by giving them as much support as we can so they can recover from this unprecedented situation,” says Councillor Eileen Lintill, Leader of Chichester District Council. “As a council, our finances have been seriously affected: we are currently running at a deficit which could be as high as  £8million by the end of 2020/21. We are also likely to need to make savings of at least £2 million over the next five years so that we can balance our budget in the medium term.

“Things are still very uncertain and we don’t know at this stage what the total funding support we will receive from the Government this year or what our funding will be for the next financial year. With this in mind we need to start planning how we are going to deliver our services and focusing on our communities’ urgent needs. I want to reassure people that we will continue to work hard to support people across the district and identify the best ways we can help.

“As a council we are well-placed to help our communities and businesses and there are many positive ways in which we are able to make a difference, from supporting economic projects such as the Southern Gateway, to helping make the district ready for the digital economy to helping reduce rough sleeping and supporting businesses through our Local Plan.

Detailed actions for the next 12 months will be:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Community and housing:

  • Supporting rough sleepers to permanent accommodation.
  • Managing increased use of emergency and temporary accommodation and increased homeless applications.
  • Providing financial support for affected individuals and businesses and  revising the debt recovery policy.
  • Supporting voluntary and community organisations, including community halls and sports clubs via a new grants scheme.
  • Collecting details of community networks for future emergency planning.
  • Tackling the backlog of Disabled Facility Grants (DFG).

Economic:

  • Inward Investment
  • Visions, High Streets and retail
  • Micro businesses
  • Agriculture and horticulture
  • Tourism, culture and hospitality
  • Digital infrastructure
  • CDC’s commercial estate: Southern Gateway; St. James’ Industrial Estate redevelopment; Barnfield Drive; Ravenna Point; Enterprise Centre.
  • Licensing and events.
  • Sports and Leisure.

Planning, health and environmental protection:

  • Supporting the housing and construction industry
  • Health Protection
  • Building healthy communities and protecting the environment during recovery.

Organisational:

  • Adapting council services
  • Supporting staff
  • Robust and resilient ICT infrastructure
  • Options for future office accommodation, and
  • Improving web services.

“As well as focusing on these key short term actions, we will also be working with officers to develop our longer term plan for the period 2022 – 2023,” says Cllr Lintill. “This will be a three-stage process and will involve examining how and why we do things to ensure we are being efficient and effective, looking at the various policy options that arise from this and then prioritising the services we deliver according to the resources available. ”

To read the details of the recovery plan, go to

https://chichester.moderngov.co.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=132&Year=0