Published: 15:33, 31 March 2020
| Updated: 10:16, 20 April 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on how we all live our lives to stop the spread of the disease.
But council services still need to run to help keep our bins collected, roads safe and vulnerable people looked after.
Medway Council has made changes to several of its services for residents in the Towns and we'll be keeping you updated throughout the lockdown on the impact to services, what advice is being issued and what is closed.
Domestic Abuse Service
Those who need help with issues regarding domestic abuse can get in touch with the Medway Domestic Abuse Service (also known as Choices).
This is a 24/7 support services which provides confidential emotional support and advice.
They can be contacted on 08009179948 or email@example.com.
All loans and renewals will be issued for eight weeks.
Loans can be renewed up to 15 times, which can be done online, and you will not be charged for overdue items and fines will be waived.
Any library cards which are due to expire will be automatically renewed for another year.
The council has advised people whose circumstances haven't changed to continue to pay their council tax instalments.
Those who have had their financial circumstances changed are advised to.
If you are eligible for a council tax reduction, your bill can be reduced up to 65%.
Those already on a reduction and who are of 'working age' will receive a further reduction of £150 and you do not need to apply for this.
If you qualify you’ll receive a new bill once any award is made. Please continue to pay the instalments shown on your bill in the meantime.
If you're self-employed and are waiting for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme payment, the council may be able to defer your Council Tax payments from June 2020 to March 2021.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request this. Add to the email subject line: ‘defer instalments’ and your Council Tax reference number, which can be found on your bill.
There have been temporary changes to the way the council recovers arrears; reminders, final notices and court summonses have been suspended.
If you have arrears due up to Tuesday, March 31 enforcement agents (bailiffs) are now on hold and will not be in contact with you.
There are a number of options for extending installments, which can be found on the council's website.
Essential works to Medway's highways continues; this includes carrying out repairs to potholes and resurfacing works.
Staff at the council's joint venture partner Medway Norse are also continuing to work hard to ensure Medway’s green spaces remain open and safe for residents to use for their daily exercise.
Residents can continue to raise highway faults online but the council is asking people not to approach highways staff whilst going about their work to respect social distancing.
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff is of the upmost importance to us and we will all continue to follow government advice during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We must continue to ensure that NHS workers, emergency services and essential workers are able to get to where they’re needed.
“Our highways teams carry out a range of essential works including repairing potholes and road defects as well removing potential hazards from our roads to keep Medway moving.
“I would like to thank our highways teams and all key workers for their continued hard work during these unusual times.”
The council has advised people to avoid having bonfires as the smoke can irritate lungs and cause issues for people with breathing problems or asthma.
Schools open during half term
Some Medway schools will also remain open over the Easter holidays.
If a child cannot attend their usual school, the is finding them a place at another local school.
Free parking for key workers
The council have suspended parking charges for NHS staff and social care workers in Medway.
Council-run car parks and parking bays can be used free of charge by these workers.
Social care workers have been issued with parking permits and NHS leads have been given details of how staff can access free parking in the Towns.
Consultation on Hoo Peninsula extended
A consultation into plans to develop the Hoo Peninsula has been extended.
Comments can be submitted up until Monday, May 11.
Easter bin collections
There are no changed to collections to bin collections Friday, 10 April and Monday, 11 April.
If your collection day is on a Friday or a Monday, don’t forget to put your waste and recycling out by 7am.
Don’t forget to put your used cardboard items in your blue reuseable bag. If you can’t fit it all in your blue bag, you can also store used packaging in a large box or carrier bags, just make sure this is kept separate from your waste.
Activities at home
Instructors from Medway Sport are running online fitness classes, details of which can be found here.
Children are also being encouraged to write poems, stories and draw pictures which can go towards a project called the Medway Covid Chronicles.
All contributions should be sent to email@example.com
Crematoriums and cemeteries
The grounds and reception area of Medway Crematorium in Blue Bell Hill are closed but funerals an dcremations are going ahead as planned.
Chairs will be placed two metres and attendees are asked to observe social distancing.
Charges for live streaming of funerals for those who are unable to attend in person have been dropped.
All four council-run cemeteries are open.
The council's responsive repairs service is responding to emergency and urgent repairs only.
Routine repairs have been suspended and anyone who have symptoms of coronavirus must inform the council when reporting repairs.
Kingsley House in Gillingham is open, its hours are as follows: Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm, Friday 9am to 4.45pm.
All markets in Medway have closed. This includes Gillingham High Street and the Rochester Farmer's market.
Waste and bins
The council is advising people to follow government guidelines when disposing of used tissues: Double-bag used tissues and cleaning cloths in disposable black bags
Recycling bags will be sent to Medway residents as usual, and more can be ordered online.
Food recycling bins can be acquired in supermarkets, the council advises using newspaper or compostable carrier bags if you cannot obtain any.
The council runs recycling centres in Sundridge Hill in Cuxton, Hoath Way in Gillingham and Shawstead Road in Capstone, Chatham – all of which closed on March 30 until further notice.
Household waste and bulky waste collections will continue, but the collections of fridges and freezers will be discontinued until after Wednesday, April 1.
The council has also advised if your regular bin collection was missed on March 30 crews will be making every attempt to collect it in the following two days.
Kent County Council announced last week its tips would be closed until further notice.
The council is creating a database of carers who can help adults with extra care and support.
This could include helping with household tasks, meal preparation or getting someone ready for the day
If you’re a carer who may be able to help please send your name, address, phone number and details of any experience you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also include whether you have a DBS check.
The council has advised parking attendants will not be enforcing in controlled parking zones such as permit holder areas and roads where time restrictions apply, until further notice to accomodate people who are finding it hard to park whilst more people are at home.
Parking which is deemed dangerous, such as parking on double yellow lines, will continue to be enforced.
More by this authorKatie May Nelson