Council’s flytipping concerns and support for the vulnerable continue

Antisocial behaviour complaints have risen in Cannock Chase during the coronavirus pandemic and flytipping has proved a “major concern” – but thousands of vulnerable residents have been supported and rough sleepers have been able to secure places to live.

Cannock Chase Council Civic Centre in Beecroft Road Cannock.
Cannock Chase Council Civic Centre in Beecroft Road Cannock.

The impact of Covid-19 on communities – and Cannock Chase Council’s work to support residents and the district’s recovery – was considered at a scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, a year on from the first national lockdown was announced.

Community Scrutiny Committee members were told that fly tipping had remained an issue in the district during 2020.

Between April and September Incidents were above the average rate of 131 per quarter, with 186 recorded between April and June and 166 between July and September. The level fell to 87 between October and December however.

Nirmal Samrai, head of housing and partnerships for Cannock Chase Council, said: “There was a decline in quarter three but that is still an area of major concern for us.

“We have a major publicity campaign going on at the moment.”

Between April and December there were no fixed penalty notices issued by Cannock Chase Council – and just one community protection notice handed out between April and June. Ms Samrai said that the team had been focusing on other priorities during this time.

But she added: “In terms of antisocial behaviour complaints we had a sharp increase in quarter one (April to June). That’s when residents were getting used to new lockdown measures.

The number of incidents in 2019/20 was 90 and we were already at 100 by quarter three of this year. Hopefully that will plateau out.”

Between April and June 2020 there were 46 antisocial behaviour complaints dealt with by the Community Safety Hub, with a further 42 between July and September and 27 between October and December.

Work has also continued to support the district’s most vulnerable residents during the second wave of the pandemic, the committee heard. There were 7,500 residents identified as vulnerable, and 4,700 letters sent out to households.

“Safe and well” calls, which started during the first national lockdown, resumed in February and 97 calls are being made per fortnight to those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. Home visits have also been carried out by PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) to vulnerable residents who live alone and have not responded to calls.

In January £12,500 was allocated towards providing ongoing support for the district’s food banks and local emergency food distribution.

Ms Samrai said: “We brought the community vulnerability hub out of hibernation when we had the second wave. We are continuing to make safe and well calls and we are working to support the clinically extremely vulnerable.

“We are working with the voluntary sector in terms of making sure there is longer term support solutions in place for residents across the district. Both food banks have reported they have sufficient food supply but have had a huge increase in referrals.

“No week is the same – every week we have different challenges. From Monday there will be no further shielding. The cohort we have we will support until the end of June, then we have to put some extra programmes in place and look to give them extra support.”

A year ago the Government ordered local authorities to find emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in their area.

In Cannock Chase, where the council has been working with Spring Housing, 19 people have been supported in this way – and 14 have moved into settled accommodation the meeting heard. The council is also currently in the process of buying two more one bedroom flats to increase the accommodation available in the district.

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