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Council's PPE bill falls sharply as supply rises

Sarah Booker-Lewis

Local Democracy Reporter

Council spending on personal protective equipment (PPE) has halved from more than £600,000 a month to less than £300,000 in Brighton and Hove.

The bill has come down since the government’s PPE “Portal”, initially known as the Clipper system, started operating on 8 June after a two-month delay.

Coastline view of Brighton

This has taken the strain off Brighton and Hove City Council which, in May, was spending £624,000 a month on PPE, with almost half of the equipment going to the care sector.

A report going before the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday said that the monthly bill was now down to £272,000.

The report said: “Feedback from our procurement team is that the supply market is becoming less challenging and is responding well to the demand.

“The reduction in some of the unit prices evidences this. Some items such as hand sanitisers are now easily available in supermarkets.”

The price of surgical masks has almost halved since April, from £1 to 56p each. Between 6 April and 5 June, the council supplied almost a million items of PPE in response to more than 1,000 requests.

The report said that the Portal was offering a limited range of items at the moment but it was expected to reduce the care sector’s reliance on the council.

So far, the report added, the council had committed £1.8 million towards the cost of supplying PPE from the £16.2 million Covid-19 emergency response fund.

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After three months of lockdown, hair salons, attractions and pubs are open.
The hospitality and leisure sector has been shut since mid-March, but social distancing measures are still in force.

City 'well-prepared' to deal with Covid-19 outbreak

Brighton seafront

Brighton and Hove is well-prepared to deal with a second wave of Covid-19, a senior councillor has said.

It comes as Brighton and Hove City Council published its local outbreak plan, which sets out how it intends to prevent and contain a coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Councillor Clare Moonan, chair of Brighton and Hove City Council’s health and wellbeing board, said it was important for everyone to take precautions to prevent a rash of cases.

She said: “Until a vaccine is found, we must all learn to live alongside Covid.

“We must take all necessary actions to keep the city Covid secure and we must also be ready to respond quickly if further outbreaks do happen.

"Covid-19 is still prevalent and it is still a dangerous highly infectious disease which can kill people.”

Emergency services and NHS brace for high demand as restrictions ease

Public services across Sussex are preparing for a surge in demand this weekend with the combination of the relaxation of social distancing measures and warmer weather.

Officials at the Sussex Resilience Forum, an umbrella organisation which includes emergency services, health organisations and local authorities, urged people to “stay alert” to Covid-19 and avoid placing strain on the NHS and other public services.

Sussex Resilence Forum logo
Sussex Resilence Forum

The message came after huge numbers of vehicles last week gridlocked roads leading to beaches at Camber Sands near Rye and police were left dealing with large gatherings in Brighton and Hove.

Chair of the Sussex Resilience Forum, Assistant Chief Constable, Dave Miller, said: “Our businesses and communities are understandably welcoming the further easing of restrictions planned.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the additional freedom this will bring but our plea is to do this safely and to avoid placing additional strain on emergency services and the health service that have all worked so hard to prevent the public during this pandemic.

“The fact that the re-opening coincides with the 72nd anniversary of our health service, which has demonstrated its incredible resilience and relentless care throughout this pandemic, makes our message even more important.”

Critical care staff: 'It doesn't feel anywhere near over'
Staff at a Brighton hospital fear beach-trippers are risking a surge in cases.

Police 'can't stop people' flocking to coast, PCC says

Huw Oxburgh

Local Democracy Reporter

Police “can’t stop people coming to the coast”, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has said.

Mrs Bourne’s comments came as she answered councillors’ questions at a virtual meeting of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel.

Brighton coastline

The questions came after police issued dispersal orders to a mass gathering at Hove Lawns last Wednesday.

Those to speak included Crawley Borough councillor Michael Jones (Labour), who said: “The emergency dispersal orders issued in Brighton filled me with very deep concern.

“But we have got a lot of seaside towns in Sussex clearly; Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham beach, Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne, St Leonards, Hastings. The list goes on.

“Not only is there clearly a threat to public health for those going to the beach if they are not socially distancing, but it seems to me to be serious increased risks for residents of those towns as well.

In response, Mrs Bourne said: “You raised some really important points and I don’t think any of us disagree with your concerns around our residents and our coastal areas.

“We have got over 100 miles of coastline in Sussex and, with the best will in the world, police can’t stop people coming to the coast.

“All along the police response to this – as we have eased out of lockdown – was the Four E approach. It was to engage with the public, to explain to them why we are doing the social distancing and to encourage them to go home and only to use enforcement as a last measure, as you would expect.

“I think actually Sussex Police has been really good around this and where they have had to issue fixed penalty notices, they have."

Steep rise in sheep and cattle worrying

Farmers in Brighton and Hove are urging walkers to keep their dogs under control following incidents where lambs have been mauled and cattle chased through barbed wire fencing.

There has been a rise in sheep and cattle worrying in the area, as hundreds of dog walkers head to the South Downs to escape lockdown restrictions.

Sheep in field

But Brighton and Hove City Council officials say too many have been letting their dogs off their leads and then seeing them lose control.

Tim Carnaghan, from Standean Farm, has had eight of his lambs mauled to death in separate incidents over the past few weeks.

He said: “Since the lockdown rules were relaxed, we have seen a phenomenal number of dog walkers out and about and, while we appreciate the benefits that a walk on the Downs can bring, it’s essential that dogs are kept on leads and under proper control.

“On an average year we may lose one, possibly two, of our lambs following dog attacks, so to lose eight in just a few weeks is devastating.”

Andrew Lee, director of countryside policy and management at the South Downs National Park Authority, said dogs must be on leads and under close control at all times.

He said: “Our farmers have been doing an amazing job during the lockdown at keeping food supplies going and in supporting our wildlife, and they need our support now more than ever.”

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Dispersal orders issued across county

Police in Sussex have issued dispersal orders across the county following reports of gatherings and anti-social behaviour.

One of the dispersal orders put in place was at Hove Lawns on Wednesday evening when hundreds of people gathered on the seafront.

Sussex Police said they understood "it has been a difficult time for everyone, particularly young people" but officers warned "the virus is still here" and urged people to help protect others.

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Cost of emergency food rises to £200,000 in city

Sarah Booker-Lewis

Local Democracy Reporter

The cost of providing emergency food in Brighton and Hove during the Covid-19 crisis has risen to £200,000, with extra money coming from the city council.

The money – some raised through a crowdfunding appeal – has helped pay for thousands of meals and food parcels for people in “food poverty”, according to a report to councillors.

Food parcels
Getty Images

Council chief executive Geoff Raw has approved funding worth £124,500 for the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, using “urgency” powers.

It comes after a crowdfunding appeal – under the banner Hungry at Home – was set up in March “with the aim of raising £15,000 to buy emergency food in bulk from catering wholesalers”.

A council report said: “The target was quickly reached and doubled to £30,000.

“When that target was reached, the council provided match-funding of £30,000 to support the effort to purchase emergency food.”

The council also gave the Food Partnership a £15,000 grant to manage and co-ordinate emergency food distribution and helped secure premises – at Hove Park School – to use as a food processing hub.

The extra £124,500, granted by Mr Raw for June, July and August, is expected to help feed hundreds of struggling families and individuals.

The report – to the council’s Policy and Resources (Recovery) Sub-committee – said that applications to the Local Discretionary Social Fund had risen from 70 in February to 238 in April.

It said: “Emergency food need does not appear to be abating.”

Thousands flock to Bournemouth and Brighton
A major incident has been declared in Bournemouth on the second day of the UK heatwave.

Coronavirus: Health bosses planning for second wave

Mark Norman

Health Correspondent, BBC South East


NHS officials in Sussex say they are planning for a second wave of Covid-19 cases which could be two and a half times bigger than the first wave.

Board papers for the county's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) say there is “no consensus around the timing of a second peak.”

It could happen between July and next March and a second wave of between two and two and a half times the size of the first wave was a “reasonable worst case scenario“, the papers suggest.

An open letter by health leaders published in the British Medical Journal has called for an urgent review to determine whether the UK is properly prepared for the "real risk" of a second wave of coronavirus and warns ministers that urgent action would be needed to prevent further loss of life.

City launches beach waste crackdown

Civic leaders in Brighton and Hove have launched a crackdown on people who litter the city's beaches.

Beach cleaning teams have been removing five tonnes of rubbish every day as more people flock to the seafront during lockdown.

In a bid to cut the amount of waste left behind, 40 large signs are now being placed on the seafront calling on people to bin their rubbish or take it home – or face a £150 penalty.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou, chair of the council's Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: "We hope these signs will be a reminder and a deterrent to people not to drop or leave litter on the seafront.

“Our beach teams work incredibly hard from early morning to late evening removing litter from the beach, but they cannot be on every part of the seven miles of seafront every minute clearing up after people.”

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Survey on how coronavirus has impacted lives

A mass survey has been launched asking people across East Sussex how coronavirus has affected them.

The survey also asks what people’s priorities are for when the county begins to rebuild from the impact of Covid-19.

East Sussex County Council HQ

The findings will be used by East Sussex County Council, which has commissioned the questionnaire, to shape its recovery for the months and years ahead.

Council leader Keith Glazier said: "It’s important for us to understand the impact this terrible virus has had on the people of East Sussex.

"We know some have sadly paid the heaviest price and there will be many others whose lives have been turned upside down.

"Rebuilding and recovery won’t be easy, but as we start that long process together it will help enormously to know about your experiences and your thoughts for the future."

The survey runs until Sunday 29 June.

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Animal park set to reopen

Meerkats at Drusillas

A popular animal park says it is due to reopen its zoo on 26 June after being shut due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Drusillas, based near Eastbourne, said it hopes all rides and play areas will also be open from 4 July.

Zoos were given the go-ahead by the government to reopen from 15 June, but Drusillas said it needed more time to train staff before it could open its gates again.

Cassie Poland, the park's deputy managing director, said: We are really excited to be reopening and to finally have a date we can welcome visitors back to Drusillas.

"We have now had the official guidelines through, and we will open just the zoo initially.

"From Saturday 4 July, we anticipate being able to open all rides and play areas and are anxiously waiting for the government green light."

Drusillas is urging visitors to book tickets online before coming to visit the park.

Anyone who does not book a ticket online in advance will not be guaranteed entry, a park spokesman said.

Four hundred homeless given housing since lockdown

About 400 homeless people have gone into self-contained accommodation in Brighton and Hove since the start of lockdown in March, the city council said.

The authority said it has helped provide a roof over the heads of everyone who had been sleeping rough or staying in unsafe shared accommodation in the city.

It has secured a number of buildings in the city until September, and that work was under way to now help everyone move into sustainable long-term housing and not back on to the streets.

A city council spokesman said: “We’re continuing to provide accommodation, food and support for the people who need it. There is no need for anyone to be begging in the city at the moment.”

Shoppers slowly drift back in Brighton

Charlotte Wright

Reporter, BBC South East, in Brighton

The sun has been shining in Brighton today and with families out strolling through the streets, it almost feels like the city did pre-pandemic. Almost.

Shoppers have accessorised their summer shorts and t-shirts with masks hooked over their faces, while the pavement is littered with stickers and spray paint to enforce socially distant queues.

The high street chains have been the busiest, with queues round the corner at Primark and Sports Direct where I shot the video below.

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It has felt a little quieter at the small independent boutiques in the city’s famous North Laine, but the staff there are feeling optimistic.

True to form - they’ve been adapting to the new restrictions in creative ways.

The owner of Beretun Designs on Bond Street has started hand-made masks to match the dresses she sells.

Linda Johnson told me she contracted coronavirus in March and the experience made her extra-cautious.

Store owner Linda Johnson

Today she was on hand to welcome shoppers and make sure they abide by social distancing while also offering hand sanitiser, masks and gloves.

Shoppers queue patiently in Brighton

Queues outside Primark in Brighton
Eddie Mitchell

Shoppers in Brighton have been queuing patiently to take advantage of the relaxation of lockdown rules for non-essential goods.

Scores of people joined the queue outside Primark in Western Road, which at one point stretched along the front and the full length of the side of the store in Marlborough Street.

There were markings on the pavement 2m apart outside the front of the store to help people, but as the queues extended more than 200m into the distance, shoppers had to work it out for themselves before even making it inside the store.

Inside, there were limits on the number of customers and advice on social distancing, as well as access to hand sanitiser.

Shops all over England have reopened for the first time since lockdown measures were introduced in March as the government relaxes the rules on the type of stores that can open.

Queues outside Primark in Brighton
Eddie Mitchell