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Council Service Update Friday, 18 February 2022

18 February 2022

The most up to date information on COVID 19 are all available on the NI Direct website and are updated regularly in accordance with information provided by the NI Executive –

Derry City and Strabane District Council is operating the majority of its services with a small number of services affected by COVID guidance, and these remain under regular review.

Council civic offices and public buildings – Council's Civic Offices in Strand Road, Derry and Derry Road, Strabane remain open to the public. Screens are in place and the public will be asked to sanitise on entering and leaving the buildings and adhere to an in-house management system and social distancing guidance. The public are being encouraged to use Council's online systems where possible and are advised that they can contact Council by phone at 028 71 253253 or by email at [email protected]
  
The Harbour House is open for staff and elected members only.

The Guildhall is open to the public– Monday to Friday 9am-8pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 6pm.
The Tower Museum is open to the public – its opening hours are from 9am to 5.30pm daily. 
The Alley Theatre and Visitor Information Centre in Strabane is open to the public from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4.30pm. 
 
Council meetings –All Council committee meetings for the month of February are currently being held virtually and can be viewed online via the Council's YouTube channel. The meetings scheduled for March will be held in a hybrid form. Full Council meetings will continue to be held virtually. This is being reviewed regularly. The full list of meetings can be found at http://meetings.derrycityandstrabanedistrict.com/mgCalendarMonthView.aspx?XXR=0&M=9&DD=2020&ACT=Go  

 Mayor's Office – The Mayor Alderman Graham Warke is the current Mayor of the city and he is available for socially distanced and pre-booked meetings and events and is keen to engage with the public. He can be contacted via his office at [email protected] – For more info on the Mayor visit -  https://www.derrystrabane.com/mayor/contact.    
 
General leisure information
Following a phased reopening, all leisure facilities have reopened from earlier this month as Covid19 restrictions have relaxed in recent weeks. This includes a  return to changing with no restrictions, the reopening of health suite facilities including steam rooms, saunas and cryotherapy spas and increased capacity in classes. 

Activities and participation capacities currently on offer at our centres: 

Changing rooms and shower facilities are open as usual
Capacities in fitness classes, swimming and gym have now been increased to cater for demand
Gym Classes and Swimming sessions remain bookable through our Leisure app and centre reception desks to secure places – please note that booking is no longer essential and walk ins are accepted subject to availability
Sports halls are open for casual court activities and close contact sports 
Birthday parties are bookable - please contact the relevant centre for further information
Health Suite facilities, steam rooms, saunas and cryotherapy spas are all now open – booking is required for health suites.
Please download our leisure app to find all the latest information on all our centres and to book

We would like to remind our users that while restrictions have been relaxed we would encourage everyone to be mindful of good hand hygiene, and to use the sanitization stations provided. Please be mindful of others around you and give people plenty of space while training.
Foyle Arena
Please note that the Foyle Arena is fully functioning as a leisure facility and is no longer being used as a Mass Vaccination Centre. For information on where to book a vaccination please go to https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/
 
Pavilion Changing Facilities
All council changing pavilions are fully operational including showers.
 
All clubs are reminded that they must continue to follow requirements outlined by their relevant National Governing Body and users will be encouraged to wear face masks and maintain good sanitation protocols.
  
DCSDC Leisure App 
With the Derry & Strabane Leisure app, you always have your centre in your pocket. You can book fitness classes, gym and swimming sessions. View the latest pool and classes timetable. Get all the latest news via push notifications. Further details can be found at derrystrabaneleisure.com 
 
Members of the Gym can also access a full range of on demand workouts through the home fitness section of the App. From cardio to mindfulness there is a workout to suit your schedule and location. 
  
COVID Testing sites
COVID testing facilities are open across our Council area by the PHA.  If you need to access PCR testing, please book an appointment. A full list of COVID-19 testing locations is regularly updated by the PHA  at  http://www.pha.site/cvtesting
Lateral Flow tests
Derry City and Strabane District Council is continuing to work directly with The Department of Health to provide a local testing programme for small local businesses and the local community. Packs of Lateral Flow Tests are available free of charge for collection in four leisure centre sites, across the Council area; Derg Valley and Riversdale Leisure Centres as well as Foyle Arena and Templemore Sports Complex. (From 16th May).
Event organisers and employers People with more than 10 employees can participate in the workforce rapid testing programme by complete an online expression of interest at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/forms/workforce-asymptomatic-testing-programme-register-interest .
These tests are only for those who do not have any of the recognised Covid 19 symptoms. If you have any symptoms of Covid 19 you should book a PCR test immediately.

Prehen Pontoon works
Contractors are currently working on site at the Prehen Boathouse on the creation of a pontoon and the upgrade of the existing car park, as well as the installation of an external platform at the site. This will mean there will be no access to the boathouse lower level and water access steps for a number of weeks.  We will be communicating directly with user groups to advise them of this and to ask for their co-operation.

Business support – The Council  Business team are available to offer advice and assistance to local businesses on the level of Government business support available and are updted regularly on the Business Support social media platforms.  The Business team are working closely with Government department, statutory agencies and partners as well as other teams across Council  to plan and provide support to businesses. For regular updates you can follow on Facebook @Business Support Derry Strabane and Twitter @dcsdbusiness
To make an appointment to speak with one of our Business Advisers, email: [email protected] - 07872423755 / [email protected] /07702609977

Car parks - Council car parks are open and fully operational - For information on all Council  carparks - www.derrystrabane.com/carparks


Environmental Health Services – Environmental Health staff are continuing to engage proactively with local businesses to provide advice and support to businesses and the public across the Council area.  Officers are continuing to carry out programmed Food Safety and Health and Safety inspections of businesses. For more info visit - at https://www.derrystrabane.com/Subsites/Health-Community-Wellbeing

Health and Safety at Work

Members of the public and employees seeking advice and information regarding COVID-19 and health and safety at work requirements are encouraged to contact the Council’s Health and Safety and Consumer Protection Team to find out how Council can assist them in ensuring workplaces are safe. For more information visit –www.derrystrabane.com/subsites/Environmental-Health/Health-Safety-and-Consumer-Protection-Team/Health-Safety-at-Work

All sectors need to consider the relevant guidance and risk assess their work activities to ensure risks associated with the potential spread of coronavirus are suitably and sufficiently addressed and all statutory health and safety obligations are met. The HSENI have developed an example COVID-19 risk assessment that shows you the kind of approach that a small business needs to take when carrying out a risk assessment for COVID-19 in the workplace – https://hseni.gov.uk/news/example-risk-assessment-covid-19-workplaces

Our Health and Safety and Consumer Protection Team would like to remind businesses that a range of Health and Safety guidance is available from :

https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-working-safely-different-business-settings

https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/latest-information-and-advice-hse-gb-workplaces-about-covid-19

 For further information and assistance you can email the Health and Safety and Consumer Protection team at [email protected]
A variety of useful information, advice and guidance is also available on the Council website at – https://derrystrabane.com/Subsites/Health-Community-Wellbeing/Covid-19.

Covid Safe Scheme for Businesses

The Council’s s Business and Environmental Health teams introduced a "COVID Reassurance Mark" to support local, economic recovery and revitalisation whilst respecting the public health controls needed to maintain public health and minimise community transmission of Coronavirus. This initiative is geared towards boosting customer confidence to return to our town centres and villages in the knowledge that businesses are taking positive steps to keep their customers and staff safe via a risk assessed process. For more information visit www.derrystrabane.com/covidreassurance

Licensing and Pavement Café Licensing
Applications for pavement café licences continue to be accepted. Use of outdoor space may assist hospitality businesses, such as bars, cafes and restaurants to reopen safely, while maintaining social distancing. Guidance on making an application for a pavement café licence is available at:

https://www.derrystrabane.com/Licensing/Pavement-cafe-licences.

 Entertainment Licences
Since restrictions on indoor entertainment have been relaxed, businesses across our Council area are reminded they will require a current Entertainments Licence to permit them to operate. Please contact our Licensing section for advice & assistance – 028 71 253253.

Dog Control Services – Animal Welfare Services
Dog licences can be obtained online at http://council. direct/
Please contact 07512280760 If you are reporting a lost or stray dog.
Please note that Council no longer accepts unwanted dogs.  If you wish to rehome your dog please contact one of our two local animal rehoming charities: Pet FBI (Tel: 07512 280760) or Rainbow Rehoming Centre for Rescue Cats and Dogs (Tel: 028 71 812882).
If you have any queries regarding the Council’s dog control service please email [email protected]
 

Bulky Waste Service 
Please note that the bulky waste service is operating as usual. You can book the service by emailing Refuse&[email protected] or calling 028 71 374107.

Flytipping continues to be an issue for Council and our enforcement team are on the ground actively investigating all incidents of fly-tipping.  It is an offence to dump indiscriminately and you could face a Fixed Penalty Notice or a fine imposed by the court.
Protecting our environment and keeping our streets, laneways and greenways clean are still a priority and everyone has their role to play.
For more information visit www.derrystrabane.com/flytipping

 
The Planning Service 
Planning Service continues to operate most of its services as normal with staff continuing to work from home and the provision of a reduced number of back office staff providing a range of functions to keep the service operational. Site visits have also recommenced for open air urban and rural sites and dynamic risk assessments are carried out to undertake more complex sites.  Some Planning Committee Member site visits have recommenced following dynamic and approved Health & Safety risk assessments.

Planning staff continue to receive new applications and are progressing existing applications in the normal manner, issuing decisions and using technology to engage with customers where necessary.  New applications and revised drawings or any additional information can also be dropped off at the Reception of Strand Road Council Offices. However, the Department is unable to offer external meetings in person but we continue to engage with customers through virtual meetings and phone calls.

Virtual Planning Committee meetings continue to be held as agreed by Elected Members of Derry City & Strabane District Council in response to Government guidelines and in the interests of providing services safely across the Council area.  The last Planning Committee Meeting was held on Wednesday 02 February. The next Planning Committee is scheduled as a hybrid meeting for Wednesday 02 March at 2pm. As with previous Committee meetings, arrangements are made to facilitate registered speakers and meetings are livestreamed so members of the public can view the meeting via the Council’s  YouTube Channel .  The scheduled list of applications for discussion at forthcoming Planning Committees are published on the Planning Section of our website one week prior to Committee meetings.  Further information regarding the operation of Virtual Planning Committee Meetings can also be found on our website : 'Addendum to the Operation of the Planning Committee Protocol . Virtual Committee Meetings'.   If you wish to request Speaking Rights at Committee Meetings, you can contact our office directly at: [email protected] or the main office at 📞028 71 253253 and ask to speak to a member of the Planning Service.

 The Planning Enforcement Service continues to progress and deal with complaints as far as possible with restrictions on some site visits.  However, rural and urban open air sites are now being inspected along with emergency and priority cases being progressed and under regular review.
 
The Local Development Plan Team has recently prepared and published a revised Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) for the preparation of LDP 2032 (as well as Development Management functions), available at www.derrystrabane.com/sci. The Council has also published a revised Timetable for the preparation of the LDP, viewable at: www.derrystrabane.com/ldp  Following detailed consideration of the Representations received to its LDP draft Plan Strategy published in December 2019, the Council is now proposing a number of changes to the LDP draft Plan Strategy. The Schedule of Proposed Changes is accompanied by Addendums to the Sustainability Appraisal, the draft Habitats Regulation Assessment, the Equality Impact Assessment and the Rural Needs Impact Assessment. The Proposed Schedule of Changes and the supporting Addendum Reports will be subject to a formal 8-week public consultation from 9th December 2021 to 3rd February 2022. All of the above LDP documents can be viewed at:  www.derrystrabane.com/ldp  They are also available for inspection during normal office opening hours, strictly by appointment only due to COVID 19 restrictions, at the Council’s two main offices in Derry and Strabane. If you do require to inspect them in hard copy, please write to us or submit an email to the [email protected] or telephone the LDP Team during normal office hours on 028 71 253253. Arrangements will be made for an appointment or for alternative arrangements to be made. The Local Development Plan Team also continues to review and issue Tree Preservation Orders, undertaking site visits where necessary.  
 
 
Building Control Service - The Building Control service will continue to operate with some restrictions. Essential risk assessments and safe systems of work have been developed to enable site inspections to be carried out under controlled conditions. Full plan applications, building notices and regularisation applications are being accepted, registered and assessed. Property certificates are being accepted and processed.

Site inspections – All routine external inspections are being undertaken but internal site inspections are generally limited to unoccupied properties only (i.e. new builds or existing properties that have been vacant for in excess of 72hrs) and were these conditions are met then normal Completion Certificates will be issued. By exception, some internal site inspections of occupied properties may be undertaken but only where it is genuinely impractical to vacate the property. Under these circumstances, officers will agree the inspection conditions with applicants. Dangerous structure inspections are also being undertaken as normal. Virtual inspections, using video and/or photographic evidence along with supporting paperwork, will continue for occupied properties and the resultant Completion Certificates will note the inspection methodology utilised accordingly.
The Building Control service is continuing to provide the other aspects of its service to the public (e.g. postal numbering and street naming) and officers are available to provide advice and assistance – contact via email at [email protected] or from at our website  at www.derrystrabane.com/services/Building-Control.
 
Council events
Illuminate Festival - Derry's city centre will come to life with light installations and performances across multiple sites as part of an exciting live illumination experience planned for this weekend and next week. It will run over two weekends, 17th-20th and 24th – 27th February and will transform some of the city's most iconic buildings into spectacular pieces of art. Using outdoor projection, sound and animation the festival will tell some of the city's original stories through digital animation and innovative design. The music programme wil​l embrace the theme of light and will take place through a series of intimate music gigs with artists such as Kila and The Henry Girls. More details on the programme are available at www.illuminatederry.com

City of Derry Jazz Festival – While the 2021 City of Derry Jazz Festival was unable to proceed in its usual format however an extensive programme of digital content was organised that brought jazz music into homes during the Bank Holiday weekend of April 30 to May 02 and can be viewed via the website at  www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com. Members of Council’s Business and Culture committee have given their approval for officers to proceed with planning and programming next year’s event that will take place over the May 2022 Bank Holiday weekend. Full details of the project will be launched soon.
Halloween 2022 - Council is delighted that the 2021 Halloween Festival was a fantastic success. A key element of the celebrations was the focus on outdoor events and making sure people attending felt safe.  You can watch back some of the videos and view images from the event on the Halloween website at  www.derryhalloween.com or on the Derry Halloween social media channels. We are already in the planning for next year with tentative dates as follows – 28 -31 October.
 
Foyle Maritime Festival and Clipper Race – It has been confirmed that the Clipper Round the World Race 2019-20 that was cancelled as a result of the pandemic will recommence in February 2022 with a planned stopover in Derry~Londonderry on 20-24 July this year. More information is available on our Derry Strabane Whats On website and social media platforms.
Christmas 2022 – Plans are in place to host another hugely successful range of events for Christmas Light Switch On parade in Strabane and Derry following the success of the events last year. More info is available on the Whats On section of our website and on our Whats On Derry Strabane social media platforms.

Other up and coming events and dates of note

7-11 March – Enterprise week – series of business focused events promoting entrepreneurship, business support and innovation
17 March - St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival in Derry and Strabane including a parade and programme of family events for the spring carnival
02 and 03 April – NW angling fair in Strabane 
Sunday 15 May – Strabane Lifford Half Marathon 
04 September  - Waterside Half Marathon – Council led and again we are hoping the event can go ahead in the original format pre-COVID

Easy Read version – For those living with pan disability issues, the Council has put together an Easy to Read version of its latest COVID 19 information. This information is updated on a regular basis and is available via the COVID information section of our website.
 
City of Derry Airport -  The public are urged to visit the airport website for live flight information and regular. For more information visit –www.cityofderryairport.com

 Visit Derry – The Centre is open to the public and more info is available at  – www.visitderry.com