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Council Service Update Friday January 14

14 January 2022

 

The most up to date information on COVID 19 relating to what restrictions are in place, how to obtain vaccines and information on contact tracing 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

 

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

 

Please note that due to staff pressures there has been a temporary suspension to Bulky Waste Services over the coming weeks.

 

Users of Riversdale Leisure Centre in Strabane should note that the small pool will close for essential maintenance works from 5.30pm on Thursday 20th, reopening on Sunday 23rd January. We apologise for any inconvenience. The Main Pool however will remain open.

 

The Foyle Arena is currently operating as a Mass Vaccination Centre to assist the Western Health and Social Care Trust in the roll out of its extended vaccination programme. Measures are in place to ensure people can continue to enjoy the majority of leisure services, and most activities will be operating as normal at the centre while these arrangements are in place. With the volume of people accessing the Foyle Arena, please note that additional parking is available for members at Clooney Park West playing fields. See further information below.

 

A COVID-19 mobile testing unit is currently in place at Canal Basin Carpark North in Strabane. For information on alternative parking in the Strabane area, visit http://derrystrabane.com/carparks

A temporary Mobile Vaccination Clinic will operate in the Alley Theatre in Strabane from 4pm – 8pm on Tuesday January 18th. You can book an appointment online - https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/

The public are advised that every effort is being made to keep the majority of our essential services operational within the restrictions in place by the NI Executive and in the interests of public safety and our staff. We apologise for any inconvenience and hope to return to regular opening hours as soon as possible.

All information is updated regularly on our website at  www.derrystrabane.com/coronavirus and shared on our Facebook and Twitter social media platforms in an effort to keep everyone informed.  

 

Council civic offices and public buildings – Council's Civic Offices in Strand Road, Derry and Derry Road, Strabane remain open to the public with restrictions.

Screens have been erected and the public will be asked to sanitise on entering and leaving the buildings and adhere to an in-house management system and strict social distancing guidance. The public are being encouraged to use Council's online systems where possible or to contact Council by phone at 028 71 253253 or by email at [email protected]

 

The Council currently has three consultations running in both Council Offices:

They include - 

 

·     The Electoral Office of NI, Register to vote booth for members of the public with no access to the Internet who want to register to vote.  

 

·     The Boundary Commission for NI has published its Guide to the 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies in NI. It includes information about the review process & how the public can participate in the first public consultation, scheduled for autumn 2021. The public can view the documents at our Council offices at Strand Rd, Derry, & Derry Road, Strabane, Monday to Friday from 9 -5 or online at * boundarycommission.org.uk/publications/g…  

 

·     Department for the Economy, Dalradian Gold 2019 Licence Application. Notification of intention by the department for the economy to grant mineral prospecting licences: MPLA1/19 and MPLA2/19. 

 

 

 

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 are currently being held virtually in line with Government advice and can be viewed online via the Council's YouTube channel. Full Council is held virtually. 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 review of our facilities and restrictions, we are now extending activities and participation capacities on offer at our centres:  

 

·     Changing rooms and shower facilities have reopened (we advise that you still come beach ready for pool sessions)

·     Capacities in fitness classes, swimming and gym have now been increased to cater for demand, these will remain bookable through our app and reception

·     Sports halls are open for casual court activities and close contact sports (subject to governing body and risk assessment approval).

·     Birthday parties are bookable, please contact the relevant centre for further information

We remind our users to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to.

Riversdale Leisure Centre

Users of Riversdale Leisure Centre in Strabane should note that the small pool will close for essential maintenance works from 5.30pm on Thursday 20th, reopening on Sunday 23rd January. We apologise for any inconvenience. The Main Pool however will remain open. 

Foyle Arena

Council is assisting the Western Health and Social Care Trust in the roll out of the extended vaccination booster campaign and the Foyle Arena is now operating as a Mass Vaccination Centre until January. Templemore Sports Complex has ceased to operate as a vaccination centre this week with services transferring to the Foyle Arena.

Measures are in place to ensure Members can continue to enjoy the majority of leisure services, and most activities will be operating as normal while these arrangements are in place. A small number of studio classes will be affected but alternative arrangements have been made and these will be communicated to members. Badminton will also not be available at the Arena but can be booked at other centres.

A full range of leisure services are available at centres across the District and you can find further information at derrystrabane.com/leisure

With the volume of people accessing the Foyle Arena, please note that additional parking is available for members at Clooney Park West playing fields. 

 

Pavilion Changing Facilities

The Council is continuing to work in partnership with the Irish FA and leagues to facilitate the safe reopening of changing pavilions across the Council area. The Council has been in contact with the clubs to advise them of their requirement to provide Council with written communication that they will adhere to the guidelines and safety measures put in place. This will include the submission of an updated COVID 19 Risk Assessment. On receipt of all the relevant documentation Council will assess and approve before providing confirmation to each Club that they are eligible to access changing facilities.

Arrangements have been into place by Council from October 30 to have these facilities open for all eligible clubs. The guidelines set out by Council are in line with the requirements included in the Irish FA’s Return to the Everyday Game and Council will continue to monitor the situation going forward.   

 

 

 

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 facility 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.

COVID Health Certification Scheme

Following the publication of the Amended Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) that came into effect on Monday 29th November 2021 relating to the implementation of the COVID Certification Scheme, Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Environmental Health and Business teams are providing guidance and support to relevant businesses across the Council area.

The regulations were introduced from 5pm on 29 November, with a 2-week grace period which will end on 13th December 2021 and Council has been liaising with local businesses through various communication channels including email, direct mail and via the Council website, this week, advising them of this and signposting them to where they can obtain the current legislation and guidance as it becomes available.

These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 to introduce provisions regarding the requirement to show proof of COVID-status Certification to gain entry into relevant settings.

According to the Government guidance, the accepted evidence is proof of full vaccination, the last dose of which was received at least 14 days prior to the relevant time, a negative COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test, taken within the previous 48 hours or proof of recovery from a positive COVID-19 PCR test, within the previous 30-180 days. Covid Vaccination Cards are deemed to be valid certification when accompanied by valid photographic ID.

Council has been advised that venues which provide or sell intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises are currently included along with cinemas, theatres, concert halls, exhibitions and certain events. If licensed premises decide not to sell or provide intoxicating liquor they will not need certification at this point. However, it is our understanding that this will only be for a short period of time, as it is anticipated that regulations will be implemented to cover all hospitality.

The legislation also applies to sports grounds and anywhere else which allows the drink to be consumed on the premises. This is regardless of numbers attending. Hotels will have a specific exemption to allow guests to stay, but the guests won’t be able to access any hospitality areas without certification. In summary-  If alcohol is being consumed on the premises then they will require COVID certification measures.

The legislation states that a person may provide evidence of their COVID status through (a) certification in paper or electronic form that Person has completed a course of doses of an authorised vaccine with the final dose having been received at least 14 days before the relevant time; (b) certification by text or email through the NHS Covid-19 reporting app of a negative result of a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test or a negative result of an onsite COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test, in each case taken within 48 hours before the relevant time; (c) a valid notification of a positive result of a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test taken no earlier than 30 days, and no later than 180 days, before the relevant time; (d) confirmation in writing of their participation (current or past) in a clinical trial for vaccination against coronavirus from the organiser of that trial; (e) evidence provided through the Northern Ireland COVID Certification process for medical exemption, or an equivalent process in Persons place of residence if Person is not resident in Northern Ireland, of a clinical reason for not being vaccinated with any authorised vaccine.

Evidence must include or be accompanied by a document confirming the person’s identity which contains the person’s name as stated on the evidence provided, and a photograph of the person. 

Council officers are also available to assist with any enquiries from businesses and members of the public regarding the Scheme and any other Covid-19 related enquiries and complaints regarding premises for which Council has an enforcement role.

The Environmental Health team will continue to monitor changes to legislation and government guidance on the extension of the COVID Certification Scheme and provide further updates to relevant businesses on the scheme as appropriate. The Council is also continuing to work with the PSNI with regard to their role in enforcing the Regulations and the MoU arrangements as agreed.

Further information on the scheme is available on the following websites:

NI Business Info:

https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-covid-certification-scheme  

NI Direct:

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/apply-domestic-covid-vaccination-certificate

 

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 updated 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 a COVID-19 mobile testing unit is currently in place at Canal Basin Carpark North in Strabane. For information on alternative parking in the Strabane area, visit http://derrystrabane.com/carparks 
 
Environmental Health Services – Environmental Health staff are continuing to engage proactively with local businesses to provide advice and support to help ensure compliance across the Council area.  Officers are continuing to carry out programmed Food Safety and Health and Safety inspections of businesses following the completion of Covid 19 Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work procedures. All inspections will be considered on an individual basis and carried out when it is safe to do so.  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 Business and Environmental Health teams have introduced a "COVID Reassurance Mark" which has been designed 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 
The Council's Environmental Health team are proactively visiting premises in the hospitality and retail sector to check compliance with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations.  All complaints and service requests received from members of the public will be investigated and enforcement action taken where appropriate. 
 
 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 councils dog control service please email [email protected] 

 
 
Bulky Waste Service 

Please be advised that there has been a temporary suspension of Council’s Bulky Waste Collection Service over the coming weeks due to staff pressures. We hope to resume services as soon as possible – look out for updates on Council’s Social Media. 

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 
 
Community Service staff are continuing to work with the Department for Communities, local community groups and advice services to ensure that resources being made available in this emergency situation are delivered on the ground. Community Development Staff are working with Community& Voluntary groups across the Council area to ensure the effective delivery of funding packages provided by Council to support community led responses and to assist the most vulnerable. Council staff are also working with the Local Community Growth Partnerships, Food Banks and Social Supermarkets to deliver an Access to Food programme to support vulnerable families across the Council area.   Officers are working with our Advice Services partners, including Advice North West, Dove House and Resource Centre Derry as well as the Local Community Growth Partnerships to extend Advice Services opening hours and develop local referral mechanisms in order to offer help and support at this challenging time. 
  

 

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.

 

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 05 January. The next Planning Committee is scheduled as a virtual meeting for Wednesday 02 February at 2pm. As with previous Committee meetings, arrangements are made to facilitate registered speakers remotely via Webex 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 February.  'Illuminate' 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, Neil Cowley 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.

Halloween 2021 - Council is delighted that this year’s 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.

Christmas 2021 – We had a hugely successful Christmas Light Switch On parade in Strabane and Derry last weekend. Other events scheduled for the festive season include the Walled City Markets and the Mayor's Family Fun Activities that took place last weekend.. More info is available on the Whats On section of our website and on our Whats On Derry Strabane social media platforms. 

 

Clipper and FMF – 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 over the summer of 2022. It's important to note that this event is subject to what covid restrictions may be in place at that time and mitigation measures to host the event with social distancing in mind are being included in the event plan. Keep an eye out on our Whats On page for any updates. 

 
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 updates. For more information visit –www.cityofderryairport.com 
 
 Visit Derry – The Centre has reopened to the public and is fully operational – www.visitderry.com