Wakefield Metropolitan District Council

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Most Recent

  1. 'Challenge' ahead in new lockdown - Wakefield council boss

    The latest coronavirus lockdown is another "significant challenge" facing the Wakefield district, the council's leader has said.

    Denise Jeffery

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new lockdown last night, starting with immediate effect, meaning people must now stay at home except for a few permitted reasons.

    Responding to the news, Wakefield Council's Labour leader Denise Jeffery said: "The government has made it clear the alarming severity of the situation nationally means we must all follow the new lockdown restrictions.

    "Our district is already seeing an increase in infection rates and so it is absolutely crucial for everyone to take action now and prevent the infection rate increasing more rapidly."

    If action isn't taken, NHS services will be "overwhelmed and more lives will be lost", Ms Jeffery added.

    "This council will be here to support businesses and residents in any way we can," she said.

  2. Wakefield firms given Covid-breach fines 'as last resort'

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Several Wakefield businesses have been given £1,000 fines since the start of October for breaching Covid regulations, it's been revealed.

    2m sign

    A total of six fixed penalty notices have been issued "as a last resort" after the firms failed to adhere to the rules despite being given "support and guidance", Wakefield Council says.

    The authority says it has received 264 calls from members of the public since 1 October complaining about a business not following coronavirus protocols.

    Non-essential stores have been forced to close since 5 November, when England was put under lockdown for a second time.

    The council says it's unable to name the businesses it has fined, because all six notices could still be challenged and appealed against through the courts.

    Councillor Maureen Cummings, portfolio holder for communities, says she understands it's "an extremely difficult time for local businesses".

    "However, there are some businesses who are still not abiding by the rules and are quite simply risking people’s lives.

    "The national restrictions are not easy, but are absolutely crucial if we are to control the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives," she adds.

  3. Three-tier move sparks councils' call for 'urgent funding'

    Council leaders in West Yorkshire are calling for a package of "urgent funding" from the government following the announcement of a new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions.

    Two metre distancing sign

    West Yorkshire is to be put into Tier 2 (high risk) meaning people from different homes can only mix outside, as long as the "rule of six" and social distancing are followed.

    In a joint statement, the leaders of West Yorkshire's councils asked the government for "urgent funding to support efforts to contain the pandemic and protect jobs in line with the region’s Tier 2 status."

    The support they're asking for includes:

    • A Local Restrictions Support Grant providing grants of up to £5,000 every three weeks for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses
    • The continuation of furlough, with government contributing to wages
    • £3.7m to support the expansion of the Covid Recovery Grants Scheme to support businesses to reopening and adapting

    They've also asked for £30m to support further measures to tackle the spread of the virus "through local contact-tracing, community engagement, enforcement, support for those self-isolating and other measures".

    In a statement, the council leaders say: “We need the government to urgently respond so we can address the rising infection rates putting our NHS services under increasing pressure, and to avoid damage to the West Yorkshire economy.”

  4. 'Follow new Covid restrictions this weekend' - Council

    A West Yorkshire council is urging people to follow the latest coronavirus restrictions this weekend.

    A sign asking people to stay 2m apart

    Wakefield Council says enforcement, licensing and environmental health officers will be working alongside the police this weekend, checking businesses are following the new rules.

    The authority has also urged people heading out to understand and follow the rules in order to help keep other people safe.

    The new rules, which came into force yesterday, include:

    • Pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways
    • Hospitality venues must close at 22:00
    • The requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail staff and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink

    The council adds that the new restrictions are in addition to the "rule of six", which bans social gatherings of more than six people inside and outside venues.

    Councillor Maureen Cummings said: "It is absolutely critical we reduce the spread of infection and we must act now to prevent more cases. We want people to still enjoy a night out, but you must take responsibility to keep yourself and others safe.

    “Please support our local economy and local businesses who have worked really hard to implement the necessary measures by sticking to the rules," she added.

  5. Repair plan for Wakefield's 'dark and dingy' County Hall

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Detailed plans to fix Wakefield County Hall’s leaky roof have been put forward, with parts of the historic building at risk of collapse.

    County Hall

    The landmark Grade I-listed structure, which accommodates about 500 council staff, is in desperate need of refurbishment.

    A 2019 report said "urgent and essential" repairs to the roof were required to prevent parts of the building from caving in, after a number of significant leaks in recent years.

    Meetings were moved out of County Hall at the start of 2018 as a precaution after rainwater damaged some of the plasterwork inside.

    Employees meanwhile, have complained about the building becoming a “dark and dingy” place to work.

    A total of £6.5m of public money has been set aside for the scheme, which is subject to planning permission.

    An application put forward by Wakefield Council’s property partner Engie earlier this month, said that a "backlog of disrepair and defects" needs to be fixed.

    A heritage statement by the company said the repairs would be “historically sympathetic” to the rest of the building, which dates back to 1898.

    Pigeon spikes will also be put on the new roof to prevent bird droppings.

    If approved, the work is expected to take around two years to complete.

  6. Council chief to retire to focus on cancer recovery

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Wakefield Council’s chief executive Merran McRae is to step down from the role at the end of September to "focus on her recovery" from cancer.

    Merran McRae

    In a statement issued on Thursday morning, she said the move would allow her to focus on her recovery and spend more time with her family.

    Ms McRae, who took over the position at the head of the council in 2017, had previously been chief executive at Calderdale Council for five years.

    She returned to work earlier this summer after a period of time away, having been diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year.

    Ms McRae said she was "incredibly proud" of Wakefield and admitted the decision to leave her post had been an "incredibly difficult decision to make".

    "As many people are aware, this has been a particularly challenging year for me, health wise." she said.

    “Although it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to request early retirement, I am confident that it is the right decision for me personally, allowing me time to focus on my recovery and spend quality time with my family."

    A council spokesperson said: "Merran will continue as Chief Executive until the end of September whilst interim arrangements are put in place."

  7. Four Ossett factory workers test positive for coronavirus

    Four people have tested positive for coronavirus following an outbreak at a bed factory in West Yorkshire.

    Deep Sleep Beds, Ossett

    Wakefield Council said all four people worked at Deep Sleep Beds in Ossett.

    In a statement it said: "Wakefield Council is working closely with Deep Sleep Beds UK Ltd, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive after four employees tested positive for COVID-19.

    "The small outbreak at the Ossett factory was confirmed by Public Health England this weekend and action is being taken as quickly as possible to help limit the spread of the virus. "

    It said staff who had been in contact with those who had tested positive "are self-isolating at home as a precautionary measure" while other members of staff are being offered a test.

    Anna Hartley, the council's Director of Public Health, said members of the public are advised to continue to follow Government guidance on regular handwashing and social distancing to help keep themselves and others safe.

  8. People in Wakefield told 'wear face masks, protect others'

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    People in Wakefield are being urged to wear a face mask in public wherever possible, with the district’s public health team backing the government in advising the measure.

    Woman in face mask

    They say the precaution should be used in shops and on public transport if possible as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

    However, Wakefield’s director of public health, Anna Hartley, adds that babies, toddlers and people with breathing problems shouldn't be made to wear a mask or have their faces covered.

    Ms Hartley says: "By wearing a face covering you are helping to protect others and controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

    "Face coverings can simply be a scarf or bandana, or if you feel creative you can make your own out of old T-shirts or fabric.

    "The key thing is that whatever you use covers both your mouth and nose and enables you to breathe safely," she adds.

    Those who either can’t or choose not to wear a mask are still being advised to wash their hands regularly with soap and hot water.