COVID-19 guidance

In response to the ongoing situation around COVID-19 Coronavirus, Boston Borough Council is continually reviewing its operations.

Whilst working hard to maintain levels of service delivery, daily assessments are being undertaken on a regular basis to ensure the welfare of residents, staff and councillors remains our highest priority.

The Council is open and fully functioning and services continue to operate fully – where possible, with extra measures in place to limit the potential for transmission of the virus.

Where possible to protect you and our staff we would like to ask residents to find alternative methods of contacting us either via telephoning 01205 314200 or emailing the service department rather than face-to-face contact. Meetings are limited to those, which are essential only.

You can continue to access council services through our website, if you cannot find the information or service you need on this site please email info@boston.gov.uk or alternatively you can call us on 01205 314200.

Service disruptions and information updated 27/03/2020: SEE RELEVANT BOXES BELOW

  • Further update for taxi drivers re driver medicals and MOTS 
  • Boston May Fair – POSTPONED
  • Ratepayer discounts announced by Government update
  • Building Control site inspections

Service disruptions and information updated 26/03/2020: SEE RELEVANT BOXES BELOW

  • Business rates update 
  • £150 council tax support 
  • Homechoice applications and register 
  • Temporary amendment to policy for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers and Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles 
  • All council-owned public toilets have now been closed following Police request 

Service disruptions and information updated 25/03/2020: SEE RELEVANT BOXES BELOW

  • Commercial tree work suspended until further notice
  • Bulky Waste Collections suspended until further notice
  • Update on funeral services 
  • Business Interruption Loan Scheme advice 

Service disruptions and information updated 24/03/2020: SEE RELEVANT BOXES BELOW

  • Municipal Buildings, West Street  – CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – phone calls can still be made by calling 01205 314200
  • All Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) – CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
  • Children’s play areas and the whole of Central Park – CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE 
  • Boston Market will continue to run in line with essential traders only 
  • New Legislation issued to permit restaurants and cafes 

Service disruptions and information updated 23/03/2020: SEE RELEVANT BOXES BELOW

  • Message from the Leader of the Council on Coronavirus
  • Business Interruption Loan Scheme – UPDATE
  • Council Tax Support
  • Environmental Protection

Service disruptions updated 21/03/2020: SEE RELEVANT BOXES BELOW

  • Boston Guildhall Museum – CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

Service disruptions updated 20/03/2020: SEE RELEVANT BOXES BELOW

  • Household Waste Recycling Centre
  • Waste Services
  • Building Control
  • Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex – CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
SERVICE DISRUPTIONS AND INFORMATION IN DETAIL

To find out more detailed information about service disruptions and further information – please click on the relevant box below.

Building Control site inspections

During the Coronavirus pandemic. Where we deem it safe to do so, Building Control site inspections will continue to be carried out as far as is practicable. Below is the list of inspections that we consider (taking all risks into account) can be safely carried out in the open air. Other inspections may be carried out virtually (such as submission of photographs) or postponed till such a time as is safe to do so. At this time this will be for at least 3 weeks from today although that may be subject change.

As part of the inspection booking process the following questions will be asked:-

For the health, safety and wellbeing of you, your builder and our staff please answer the following questions openly and honestly:

  1. Have you, or has anyone at the address/ on site displayed symptoms of the Coronavirus within the past 14 days i.e. a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature? IF YES = NO INSPECTION
  2. Have you or anyone at the address recently returned from abroad?  IF YES = NO INSPECTION
  3. Are you or anyone at the address in self-isolation due to symptoms of Coronavirus? IF YES = NO INSPECTION
  4. Are you or is anyone at the address categorised as high risk or vulnerable, as defined by the government and NHS guidance, and are required to self-isolate? IF YES = NO INSPECTION    
  5. Do you, and anyone we may encounter during the visit, agree to maintain appropriate social distancing measures i.e. 2m, as set out in the government guidelines throughout the entirety of the visit? IF NO = NO INSPECTION      
  6. Do you agree to keep any children at the property away from the immediate site area during the inspection? IF NO = NO INSPECTION      
  7. Are you comfortable with us carrying out the inspection? IF NO = NO INSPECTION          

As above, if any of the above answers are unsatisfactory then then a physical on-site inspection will not be carried out. Where it is possible a virtual inspection will be carried out if practical to do so, or the inspection will be deferred to a later date.

Any on-site inspections that can continue to be carried out safely in open air at private residences, commercial sites and housing sites will be and these include:-

  • Commencement/ foundation excavations
  • Foundation concrete (where possible in conjunction with other inspections)
  • DPC (where possible in conjunction with other inspections)
  • Oversite concrete (where possible in conjunction with other inspections)
  • Foul drainage (where possible in conjunction with other inspections)
  • Floor joist (in most cases and where possible in conjunction with other inspections)
  • Structural steelwork (in most cases and where possible in conjunction with other inspections)
  • Roof (in most cases and where possible in conjunction with other inspections)
  • Completion (in most cases where the property is unoccupied and an unaccompanied inspection is possible)

The above inspections would entail very little contact with equipment/ materials on site and so long as “social distancing guidance” with people on site can be observed the risk to all will be limited.

Other inspections can be carried out virtually, such as photographic evidence, these include:-

  • Insulation
  • Those inspections listed above (excluding completions) that are not able to be safely carried out.

For the safety of our staff, our applicants and their builders, the following inspections at private residences and other occupied premises will cease for a duration as noted above, these include:-

  • First fix
  • Occupation
  • Completions

Please note that we reserve the right to cancel any on-site inspection that has been previously booked, or curtail any inspection where it is deemed (for either party) it is not safe to continue.

Ratepayer discounts announced by Government update

We are working hard to apply the discounts announced by the Government in response Covid-19 to ratepayers.  Those that are entitled to Nursery Discount, have now had the credit applied to their account and will receive a revised bill shortly showing a 100% discount for 2020/21.

We will contact those who may be eligible for either a Small Business Grant or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund shortly.  In the meantime, please see https://www.mybostonuk.com/coronavirus/ or www.gov.uk for further information on these grants.

Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers and Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles

We are aware that doctors surgeries are no longer carrying out driver medicals due to not undertaking non-urgent face to face appointments. For this reason we are suspending the requirement to provide a medical, if due, for the renewal of your Hackney Carriage and/or Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence. A temporary policy is in place, details of which are provided below. You will NOT be required, for now, to obtain a medical from your GP or a person who has sight of your medical records.

Due the likelihood of MOT testing stations closing and the government’s decision to extend MOTs for 6 months, we also have a temporary policy in place to enable you to continue to use your licensed vehicle, details of this are also provided below.

Please note however, you MUST still apply for your driver or vehicle licence renewal if it is shortly due to expire. We kindly request, due to reduced staffing levels, you submit your application well in advance of the renewal date, to enable us to try to process it before the renewal date.

With effect from 26 March 2020 and until further notice:

When renewing a driver licence, if a medical is due, Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle drivers will:

  • Be required to provide a self-certification declaring any medical conditions that have been diagnosed since their previous medical and any medication they are currently prescribed to take, including the dose. If there are no debarring medical conditions identified, the licensing authority will issue a 6 month licence and an advisory that a medical must be provided within that period, upon receipt of which the licence will be extended to the normal licensing period of 3 years.
  • Be required to make an undertaking that any further diagnosed medical condition will be notified to the licensing authority in writing within 1 business day of being medically fit to do so.

The above requirements also apply to both drivers over the age of 65 and those with some diagnosed medical conditions at the time their annual medical is due.

The council will cease processing new applications for drivers.

Other than renewal applications the council will cease processing applications for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles.

With effect from 30 March 2020 and until further notice:

If or when MOT testing stations close, the requirement for an MOT on vehicle licence renewal or after 6 months be temporarily suspended. This policy is in force for a maximum of 6 months.

The self-certificate form can be found here at https://www.mybostonuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Taxi-Self-cert-declaration.pdf

Note

The above will be subject to amendment should the Local Government Association provide guidance to Licensing Authorities.  This policy will be replaced by any Government guidance or amendments to legislation should they be received.

Homechoice applications and register

Following government restrictions on workplace attendance, this has led to unavailability of staff to offer property viewing and sign-up. Due to these circumstances, the property advertising and bidding system will be withdrawn immediately and until further notice.

All those who are currently within the bidding/offer process will be contacted individually by each housing provider to confirm their options.

Anyone either threatened with homelessness or actually homeless should contact their local housing authority to report this to their homelessness team.

Council Tax Support

UPDATE 26/03/2020

The government recently announced a national support fund to assist those in need of support with their council tax. The support available is for those most vulnerable where a claim for council tax support is already in place.

Over the coming days we will be awarding a maximum amount of £150 onto council tax accounts who are in receipt of council tax support, for the financial year 2020/21 and new bills will be issued. If you are eligible and your council tax bill is less than £150, your entitlement will be limited to the amount of the bill.

You do not need to apply for this, we will be sending revised bills once the award has been made. Please continue to contact the office by email in the first instance at Revs@boston.gov.uk or by telephone on 01205 314202.

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We recognise that residents may struggle to pay their Council Tax bill during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

The government recently announced a national support fund and we will provide more detail as soon as it becomes available.

The changing nature of the response to the pandemic means that there may well be further announcements and updates will be provided as they come through.

In the meantime, if you are having difficulties making your Council Tax payments you should contact the Revenues team and we may be able to change or extend your payment plan.

You may also be entitled to claim a discount or exemption see our Council Tax pages for more details.

Council tax support may be available if your income has reduced you can find more details on our Benefits and Council Tax Support pages at https://www.mybostonuk.com/council-tax/

Due to the high number of calls being received by our revenues team please contact us for advice by email in the first instance at revs@boston.gov.uk if you are unable to do so, you can call 01205 314202.

Business Rates

UPDATE 26/3/2020

More businesses forced to close because of the Coronavirus will be exempted from business rates, the Treasury has announced.

Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls will now be granted a business rates holiday from 1 April 2020.

Eligible businesses will be sent new bills with 100% discount. Those that have already made payments will get refunds from their council. The government says councils will be fully compensated.

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*** New Changes to Business Rates – budget and post budget announcements ***

Retail Relief
 It was announced in the budget (and amended since then) that Retail Relief will be increased from 50% to 100% from 1 April 2020 for one year only. This would be for qualifying businesses, plus it has now been extended to the Leisure and hospitality sectors and can now apply to all properties regardless of Rateable Value.

Pub Relief
From 1 April 2020, pub relief is being increased from £1,000 to £5,000.

 Small Business Grant
The Government announced in the budget a small business cash grant of £3,000 to small businesses in receipt of small business rates relief. On 17 March this grant was increased to £10,000

Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant
On 17 March the Government announced that all businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector with a rateable value below £51,000 will be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000.

We are waiting for full details from the Government on the schemes’ implementation and will provide further information as it becomes available.

Environmental Operations

We have taken the decision to put on hold the following until further notice:

  • Not to honour bookings for commercial tree works (them that have been booked will be carried out and you will be contacted if any issues occur)
  • Bulky Waste Service to be suspended (those already logged onto our system by be collected and you will be contacted if any issues occur)
New Legislation issued to permit restaurants and cafes

New Legislation has been issued to permit restaurants and cafes (Use Class A3), drinking establishments and drinking establishments with expanded food provision (Use Class A4) to temporarily provide takeaway food* for a temporary period until 23rd March 2021, without the need to apply for Planning Permission. There is a requirement to notify the Local Planning Authority of a change of use of this nature. We will require the following information;

▶️ Name
▶️ E-mail address
▶️ Contact number
▶️ Establishment Address
▶️ Current use
▶️ Date of proposed change to Hot Food Takeaway Provision

You will receive an acknowledgement of your notification for your records.

The “provision of takeaway food” includes any use for any purpose within Class A5 of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, and any use for the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises.

Forms can be viewed here https://www.mybostonuk.com/hotfoodtakeaway/ 

Any queries please contact – planning@boston.gov.uk or call 01205 314305.

Boston Market

Boston Market will continue to run in line with essential traders only, these include Food – Fruit, Veg, Cheese, Fish, Meat. There will be no Catering units, florists, etc. All traders are currently being contacted, if you have no received a call and trade at Boston Market or are unsure if you fall in this category please contact us at markets@boston.gov.uk

We urge you all to adhere to the social distancing and government guidelines when shopping at Boston Market.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now open for applications.

The temporary scheme will support small and medium-sized businesses with access to working capital, including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance, of up to £5 million and for up to six years.

The government will also make a business interruption payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any fees charged by the lender, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

It will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan, subject to pre-lender cap on claims, and the scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer this scheme, including all the major banks.

Who is eligible?

You are eligible for the scheme if:

 

How do I apply?

To apply, you should talk as soon as possible to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers offering the scheme and discuss your business plan with them. Check their websites to find the best way of contacting them, as some branches may currently be shut down to enable social distancing. All major banks are offering this scheme.

If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website.

 

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection – officers will not be making face-to-face visits or installing noise monitoring equipment inside people’s houses during the COVID-19 outbreak. Letters will still be sent out when complaints are received.

Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational. This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers. Planning regulation will be changed to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. This will be clearly communicated by the government when in effect. People must not consumer food or drinks on site at restaurants, cafes or pubs whilst waiting for takeaway food, Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their licence does not already permit.

Boston Guildhall Museum

Following government advice we have closed Boston Guildhall until further notice. 

We will continue to support the museum and respond to enquires through email guildhall@boston.gov.uk 

For any booking or event enquiries please contact polly.wilkinson@boston.gov.uk

Household Waste Recycling Centre

All Household Waste Recycling Centres (tips) are now closed until further notice.

Waste Services

At this time we are asking any households where residents are self-isolating due to the Coronavirus outbreak to follow this advice when disposing of household waste.

In line with the advice from Public Health England, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection, personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your green household waste bin (please avoid putting these in any of your recycling bins). Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

By taking these actions you will help us to try and ensure that our staff remain safe and that we are able to continue providing the normal level of waste collection services for as long as possible.

If you have any questions about disposing of your waste please contact 01205 314200.

Building Control

Boston Borough Council Building Control is taking a number of appropriate steps to protect staff, customers and stakeholders from the threat posed by Covid-19. Having reviewed our business practices, we consider site inspections are essential and therefore we will continue to provide this service on a case by case basis* until further notice. Please note that we are no longer facilitating face-to-face meetings at our office or attending external meetings, however we remain contactable by the usual methods, i.e. telephone and e-mail.

* If there is any possibility of vulnerable groups being in the vicinity, such as completion inspections where we need to enter the building, we will not carry out the inspection. These inspections will be deferred until such time as it can be deemed safe to carry them out.

Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex

CUSTOMER NOTICE

AS INSTRUCTED BY THE PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON, THE GEOFF MOULDER LEISURE COMPLEX IS NOW CLOSED FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE DUE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS.

FURTHER INFORMATION WILL BE ANNOUNCED REGARDING SWIMMING MEMBERSHIPS AND SWIMMING LESSONS SHORTLY.

Funeral Services

At the present time funeral services are operating as normal at Boston Crematorium, however, the office and public reception area is closed but contact can be made by telephoning 01205 364612 or emailing crematorium@boston.gov.uk

Following government advice regarding social gatherings, we wanted to bring to your attention the following changes to the way we are operating whilst we face the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus.

In order for us to continue these services we are taking the following measures to reduce the risk of infection:

  • Seating reduced in the chapel to discourage large numbers and reduce the close proximity of mourners (please consider whether it is wise for you to attend)
  • Mourners are discouraged from touching the coffin to avoid the risk of cross infection
  • Remove all hymn books but we are more than happy to photocopy the hymn for use in the service which can then be discarded afterwards. Please request this at the point of booking the service
  • Also we will be sanitising between services, handles, lectern, modesty boards, toilets and surfaces.

We want to reassure you that we will take every possible action to ensure that your service will be as safe from the Coronavirus as possible.

In an effort to reduce transmission of the Coronavirus, HM Government has introduced strict guidelines relating to social gatherings. At the present time funeral services are permitted to go ahead but those in attendance should be limited to the following persons related to the Deceased:

  • Spouse/Partner
  • Parents/Carers
  • Brothers/Sisters
  • Children (and partners)

Please do not attend if you are not one of the above.

Funeral services can be recorded (you must request this) and a media file can be sent to you electronically if desired.
We are very sorry to have to introduce these measures, but this is necessary to protect everyone, and is in line with Government requirements and advice issued by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities.

 

Environmental Health Services

All routine food hygiene ratings have been temporary suspended due to these involving face-to-face meetings and visits. All food premises have been advised to follow good hygiene practice to ensure the safety of their staff and customers and can remain open for business as usual.

Planning Services

Planning are operating a reduced service, and will be focusing on essential tasks.

Contact with the Planning Department may be limited and outside of our usual service standards. We will respond to any queries as soon as we can, we actively encourage people to contact us by email using the following: Planning@boston.gov.uk. 

If you require a call-back, please provide your contact details.

Meetings Cancelled

All non-essential internal and external meetings have been cancelled at the Municipal Buildings until the end of April 2020 where this will then be reviewed further.

Council Run Events Postponed

All council-run events planned for March and April have been postponed –

Celebration of Farming, Boston’s Outdoor Cinema, Big Boston Clean Up, LinkedIn Local, Neil Wright talk at Boston Guildhall, Pilgrim Day at Boston Guildhall and June’s 1940’s event.

Homeless

Centrepoint Outreach revised opening arrangements

As from tomorrow, 19th March, there will be no afternoon Drop In sessions. The morning sessions will continue for the time being but will only be for people who are homeless (for our purposes this includes people who are rough sleeping, sofa surfing and in temporary accommodation). Showers will be available at these sessions and should be booked the day before.

Some of the chairs have been removed from the Drop In lounge so that people are not sitting too close together and everyone who comes in is required to wash their hands with soap and water before being able to access the Drop In lounge.

The staff are continuing to provide food parcels and their office is remaining open to deal with enquiries. They are asking people with homes to ring their project workers in the first instance if they need any help and the project workers will try and deal with the enquiry over the phone. If this is not possible an appointment may be offered.

Business Owners - Help Is At Hand

👉 a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
👉 deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
👉 a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
👉 a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
👉 small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
👉 grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
👉 the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
👉 a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
👉 the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Useful Links: