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Council Service Update Friday, 18 March 2022.

18 March 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 – https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19
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.

Strike action next week and impact on services
Derry City and Strabane District Council has received formal notification from UNITE the Union in relation to strike action from Monday, 21 March 2022 to Sunday, 27 March 2022 inclusive.  

Council fully respects the right of staff to take industrial action following an official ballet and expects there to be severe disruption to a considerable number of services such as refuse collection, street cleansing, recycling centres and a range of other services during the week of 21 March. 

It is Council’s understanding that the level of impact will be variable across all services and could change as the week progresses.

Refuse collections – Council anticipates that all refuse collections across the Council will be severely affected.
Blue bin and brown bin collection services will not be able to operate on the week of 21 March.
It is therefore advised that members of the public do not put their bins out for collection during this period. It is hoped Black bin services will commence as normal on 28 March with the blue and brown bin collections recommencing the following week 04 April.

Recycling Centres - Council envisages that the strike action will also have a considerable impact on Recycling Centres with many centres being closed during this period. 

Street Cleansing services – it is anticipated to be affected and litter bins may not be able to be emptied as per normal operation.  Members of the public are asked to be aware of this.

Public parks and play areas may also be impacted and that some may need to remain closed during this period. 

Leisure facilities - Council envisages that the strike action will have a significant impact across all leisure centres and facilities in the Council area next week. 
Swimming - It is anticipated that swimming pools at all leisure sites will be closed with no access to swimming lessons and school swimming sessions. 
Gym Classes - Where possible, gym classes and main hall activities will continue however the level of services will vary and there is a possibility that there could be reduced opening hours at some centres.  
Pitch bookings – it is anticipated that pitch bookings will be significantly impacted.
Leisure users and members are urged to contact their local leisure centre directly for more information – www.derrystrabane.com/leisure
Pitch bookings will also be significantly impacted.

Foyle Arena planned maintenance - Planned essential maintenance works at the Foyle Arena will go ahead and will result in there being no hot water for a number of days so dry changing facilities only, will be available. Leisure centre members and users are urged to contact their leisure centre directly for regular updates.

Cemeteries – The Council has engaged with the Union and successfully secured an exemption for essential services such as burials. Please note that grounds maintenance at the cemeteries will not be carried out over this period.

Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages – The Council has successfully secured an exemption for this essential service.

Civic Offices - The public are advised that the civic offices at Strand Road Derry and Derry Road Strabane should remain open to the public and Council can be contacted directly at 028 71 253253.  

Museums and Visitor Services - Council envisages that the Guildhall and Tower Museum, Derry and Alley Theatre, Strabane will continue to operate as normal.
  
Other information


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
Please note that we have reduced capacity in Foyle Street and Foyle Valley Railway car parks to accommodate the About Us event programming  from 8th March to 23rd March. There will also be further reduced capacity in Foyle Street, Strand Road and Bishop Street car parks on St Patrick’s Day to accommodate the Council’s Spring Carnival parade.
 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 was 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. 

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]
 
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 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. We are aware that due to operational issues with NI Planning Portal System, there may be slight delays in processing some current planning applications.
From March 2022, Planning Committee meetings will be held as hybrid/social distancing meetings in the Guildhall for Elected Members and Senior Officers.  Arrangements will be made to facilitate registered speakers to join the meeting remotely via Webex and meetings will be livestreamed so members of the public can view proceedings via the Council's YouTube Channel .   This month’s Planning Committee Meeting took place on  Wednesday 2nd March at 2pm.  The scheduled list of applications for discussion at forthcoming Planning Committees are published on https://www.derrystrabane.com/Services/Planning one week prior to Committee meetings. 
 Further information regarding the operation of ‘The Operation of Planning Committee Meetings’ and 'Addendum to the Operation of the Planning Committee Protocol . Virtual Committee Meetings' can also be viewed on our website: https://www.derrystrabane.com/Services/Planning.   If you wish to request Speaking Rights at any Planning Committee Meeting, please 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 Schedule of Proposed Changes to the LDP draft Plan Strategy, accompanied by Addendums to the Sustainability Appraisal, the draft Habitats Regulation Assessment, the Equality Impact Assessment and the Rural Needs Impact Assessment. The documents were subject to a formal 8-week public consultation from 9th December 2021 to 3rd February 2022, to which approximately 25 Comments were received. The Council is now finalising documents, moving towards formal Submission to DfI / PAC at the end of February / early March 2022. All of the 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

17 March - St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival in Derry and Strabane including a parade and programme of family events for the spring carnival.

City of Derry Jazz Festival – While the 2021 City of Derry Jazz Festival was unable to proceed in its usual format we are delighted to confirm that we are advancing with planning and programming for this year’s event that will take place over the May 2022 Bank Holiday weekend. Full details of the festival will be launched on 21 March so watch this space. In the meantime you can get updates on gigs at www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com
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
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 2022. 
 
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

15-17 March - Celebrate Everything About Us: coming to Derry-Londonderry from 15 to 21 March -A free open-air spectacular event in Derry-Londonderry exploring 13.8 billion years of history.About Us is part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of creativity taking place across the UK in 2022. Live shows created by 59 Productions, the award-winning video artists behind the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Stemettes and The Poetry Society featuring poems and Scratch animations by young people from across the UK. Codetta, in association with the City of Derry International Choir Festival, perform brand new original score by Nitin Sawhney CBE. About Us at Guildhall Square & Waterloo Place in Derry-Londonderry from 15 to 21 March

Green Space Dark Skies, part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, from April to September 2022. Green Space Dark Skies is one of 10 major creative projects commissioned by UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a celebration of creativity taking place across the UK in 2022, designed to reach millions and bring people together. UNBOXED features free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences in the UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration.  
Each event will depend on confirmation of landowner permissions, approval of event plans and local stakeholder engagement and therefore event locations and dates may be subject to change: Lagan Valley AONB (30 April); Sperrin AONB (25 June); and Causeway Coast AONB (2 July). If you would like to take part in Green Space Dark Skies register at https://greenspacedarkskies.uk/get-involved/

14-16 April - Walled City Passion – a first of its kind flagship event – will be staged as part of a three-day civic festival on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 14 – 16). Performances, at 12.30 pm and 4.30pm daily, will be broadcast on a ‘big screen’ in Guildhall Square and streamed on social media channels. The 4.30 pm performance on Good Friday will be streamed live on the RTÉ and BBC players, and RTÉ One will televise a one-hour special of Walled City Passion at 10.30 on Easter Sunday night. To find out more and to book free tickets, visit http://www.walledcitypassion.com
Tickets to join promenade performances around the walls or for the less demanding amphitheatre-style seating in Guildhall Square can also be booked directly at:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/walled-city-passion-tickets-272664425637

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