Coronavirus: important changes to council services

Coronavirus: important changes to council services
24 March 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night and the call for our country to work together to protect life and beat Coronavirus, there are some significant changes to our services. 

Our aims are to protect our residents, particularly those most vulnerable, and to minimise disruption to our most crucial services as we go through this unprecedented time, making sure people can go about their day to day lives with access to services essential for their health, safety and welfare.

To do this however, we have no choice but to prioritise what we do. Some services will stop so that more essential ones can keep going. Things will change on a daily basis and we will keep you as up to date as we possibly can during this extremely difficult time. 

Here are the current key changes to our services:

  • All council car parks are free with immediate effect until further notice.
  • The tip is closed until further notice.
  • The start of this year’s garden waste service will be delayed by at least a month to ensure our refuse collection services are not affected for as long as possible.
  • Our refuse and recycling collections will continue as normal for now.
  • Bulky waste collections have stopped with immediate effect.
  • We will be carrying out emergency highways and streetlight repairs only.
  • Dog waste bins won’t be emptied - so please bag it and take it home to bin it.
  • Arboriculturalist (looking after trees) service stopped.
  • Gully clearing stopped unless essential.
  • Town centre mechanical sweepers stopped.
  • The land charges service will not be available for at least three weeks.
  • School crossing patrols are suspended with immediate effect.
  • Grass cutting and grounds maintenance will stop with immediate effect.
  • Parks will remain open to allow people the opportunity for their daily exercise but play areas will be closed.  People must only exercise once every day, alone or with people from their household and stay at least two metres away from other people.
  • Day opportunities for those with learning disabilities stopped with immediate effect.
  • Learning and Skills buildings are closed but online resources are being produced.
  • Register office is open on an appointment only basis. People have 42 days to register a birth and only five to register a death. An online tool for registering a death is currently in development.
  • Essential housing maintenance only will be done.
  • Schools are issuing supermarket food vouchers in place of school meals.  Please contact individual schools for more detail. 
  • Planning applications are still being accepted but the committees are cancelled for now.

We need your help too:

  • Help us to keep the streets clean by taking litter home with you.
  • For dog owners, it’s so important you continue to clean up after your dog too and take the bags home to bin, so our streets and parks remain clean and tidy.
  • Follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds for information and advice or check our website, it might save you a call and reduce demand.
  • Follow government advice, this can be found at www.darlington.gov.uk/coronavirus
  • Please stay home!

Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “This is the most unique and unprecedented situation in our generation and with that in mind I want to ask the people of Darlington to work with us, to follow government advice and to be mindful of the impact of their actions on others.

“As we work tirelessly to ensure we can continue to provide the most critical services, I would ask that you do as much as you possibly can to help too.

“If we all work together, I am confident we can get through this and back to our normal lives as quickly as possible. In the meantime I would ask for your understanding and support during the most challenging of times.

“I am proud to be leader of the council in Darlington and know our town and our people will do whatever it takes to make sure we come through this. Please follow the instructions from Government, be sensible, be safe and be kind.”