Quite a lot of Covid-related news this week, which I have put at the end of this report.
Bianca sells the Big Issue outside Asda. She was given her pitch by the people who organise and run the Big Issue but she comes from Manchester. She has a £20 train fare and has to buy the magazines (@ £1.50 each). She is currently not selling enough to break even. She has two small children. Please consider buying a magazine (which costs £3). Selling the Big Issue gives vendors a way back into working and financial independence.
Following additional Covid-19 restrictions announced on 22 September, Everybody Leisure has updated its Covid-19 guidance which can be viewed here.
Everybody says: "It is a mark of the work done by the leisure sector in ensuring facilities are safe that Covid-19 prevalence remains extremely low across the physical activity sector, and as such we are able to continue to operate."
Tom Avery (who I think used to be the Alsager journalist on the Alsager Chronicle) has set up a new website designed to be a one stop shop for all Alsager news. It is part of the Nub News network and can be found here.
It has lots of information, not only news, and is encouraging contributions from all local people, businesses and organisations.
The website states: Nub News is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK's magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors' Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism.
Last Wednesday (23 September) the Cheshire East Strategic Planning Board considered a reserved matters application in respect of the appearance of the five warehouses to be build on the Radway Green North site. Principal objections to the developer's proposals related to the height of the buildings and the colour and gradation of the cladding. However, the Strategic Planning Board felt that there was little it could do to reject the proposals because they complied with the Design Guide which had been agreed by the parties when the original proposal for the warehouses was approved at appeal earlier in the year. However, the developers did agree to consult with Alsager Town Council over the colour of the cladding.
Kath, who is Vice Chair of Alsager Partnership and was recently our Chair for three years, has been awarded Citizen of the Year by the Rotary Club, in particular for her ongoing work in making Alsager a dementia-friendly town. Congratulations Kath. Well deserved.
The Italian Festival was held online on Sunday 20 September and was enjoyed by many people. There are now videos available to view – dances, Ferrari and Fiat 500 showcases, how to make pizza, arancini and gnocchi, Circus in a Box, and singing duo Dean and Salvatore. Go to YouTube and type in Alsager Partnership Italian Festival 2020.
During the lockdown the Alsager Civic staged two online events, streamed for free, to lift people's spirits and raise funds for local charities which normally use the venue for fundraising events. They also took the opportunity to use stocks of beer to reward local heroes. People were invited to donate £10 and nominate a local hero, who then received a beer bundle. A total of £300 was raised, and a range of people who contributed to Alsager's efforts to help people through lockdown were rewarded.
Some interesting data just published by Cheshire East. At the end of March 2020 there were 90 care homes in Cheshire East. They are all in private ownership and, at any one time, 60-70% of placements are self-funded. Between them they offer 9.8 beds per 100 people aged 75 or over – the lowest rate since comparable records began in 2011. Since March 2020 three new private care homes have opened (including one in Alsager), offering an additional 196 beds. According to Coun Laura Jeuda, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for adult social care and health, where a care home placement is required, care homes generally have sufficient beds to be able to cope with the demand.
I reported in Local News 10 that there would be a charity car wash outside Twyfords care home on 26 September. Unfortunately this has now been cancelled. Sorry.
Apparently there has been a spate of catalytic converter thefts, often in broad daylight, from cars parked in drives or elsewhere.
Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, has said that in the seven days to 12 September there were 100 confirmed cases in Cheshire East and 106 cases in Cheshire West and Chester – a fourfold increase on recent numbers. Numbers are even higher in Merseyside, Warrington and Halton. He has therefore urged people to be vigilant and not become complacent if we are to avoid additional lockdown regulations.
NHS Blood and Transplant are seeking donations of blood plasma from men who have had coronavirus (or the symptoms) and who live in the Stoke-on-Trent area. I am assuming that this includes us since we use the Royal Stoke Hospital. Apparently a man booked in to donate for the first time is three times more likely to give a high antibody unit of plasma than a woman booked in to donate for the first time. You can offer to donate here.
On 24 September a new NHS contact tracing app was launched, but when I tried to download it I was told I needed the latest version of the operating system, which would require me to upgrade my phone (which otherwise works perfectly well). How mad to develop a system which only works on the latest version. Hardly likely to encourage everyone to download. (I have learnt since that it is supposed to work on apps which are no more than 5 years old – mine is just over that.) Anyway, do download it if you can.
According to the Alsager Chronicle a dedicated 'walk-through' covid-19 testing site is to open in Crewe to serve the area. It will be a semi-permanent site, known as a Local Testing Site (LTS), ready for public use from Thursday 1 October. It will be set up at Chester Street car park. Visitors must book in advance (no walk in appointments), and will be asked to self-swab when attending.
Following increased use during lockdown of 111 as a gatekeeper to A&E facilities, there are plans to roll this out on a more permanent basis, probably from 1 December. Although currently a pilot study, the expectation is that this will become normal practice. The aim is to screen people who call and signpost them to the most appropriate service, and book an appointment or call an ambulance if necessary. In urgent cases people should still call 999. People turning up at A&E without an appointment will still be seen but need to wait longer.
Leighton Hospital has been awarded £9m to reconfigure and expand its emergency care services. Funding is awarded to expand waiting areas and increase the number of treatment cubicles, to reduce overcrowding and improve infection control. It is hoped that projects will be completed by the start of next year so hospitals benefit from the upgrades during the peak of winter.