Agenda item


The Council’s Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) gave a brief synopsis of her role as Strategic Lead, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, and advised that she attended many multi agency meetings with Nottinghamshire County Council, neighbouring authorities and key partners to ensure a coordinated approach to responding and recovering from the pandemic was achieved.


In relation to the latest national lockdown, some regulations were made available on Tuesday with their consideration through Parliament on Wednesday.


The latest guidance on restrictions included the following:


  • staying at home and only leaving for specific purposes (i.e. work, essential shopping);
  • only meeting one member of another household in open spaces for walk or conversation);
  • designations for non-essential shops to either close or remain open for ‘click & collect’ only;
  • rules for gatherings to take place in certain circumstances (i.e. Remembrance Sunday events).


The Police and local authorities were now equipped with enforcement powers to deal with any individual contravention of the rules by serving fixed penalty notices with a fine of £200 up to a £6,400 maximum.  Fixed penalty notices could also be served upon businesses for any contraventions with fines ranging from £1,000 to £10,000.


Work was ongoing to consider and interpret the new guidelines and any updates would be circulated for clarity once finalised.


Business Grant Support


The Council’s Corporate Finance Manager (and Section 151 Officer) had provided an update regarding the administration of the latest round of business support grant on offer which was read out to the Panel.


A meeting was held nationally the day before to consider the criteria for the latest business support grant funding and details of the finalised scheme would be cascaded to local authorities next week.  A draft scheme for Nottinghamshire had already been drafted so once finalised, Council officers would be working hard to ensure the application process was as easy and as accessible as possible.  Work was also underway to enable applicants to complete the process online and this would be appearing on the Council’s website at the end of next week.  Instructions for using the service would be advertised on all the Council’s social media platforms imminently.


The funding scheme would again have a discretionary element although the criteria for eligibility still needed to be finalised.  It was hoped that this discretionary element could be accessed by sole traders or businesses suffering excessive hardship.  All payments to businesses would be made through the BACS system within three working days.


A brief Member question and answer session took place:






What support is being offered to shops outside of the town centres as many are feeling ignored?

Through the ‘Reopening Town Centres Fund’, 2 Environmental Health Officers, 1 Senior Covid Information Officer and 6 Covid Information Officers have been recruited.  These new officers will be offering ongoing support to all shops and businesses across Ashfield (Theresa Hodgkinson)


The Labour and Conservative parties had just announced they would cease campaigning during the lockdown; would the Ashfield Independent Group be doing the same?


The Ashfield Independent Group would be continuing to assist residents through the latest lockdown (Leader)

Will the Council be refunded by Central Government for the Business Support Grant distributed and is the discretionary element of the scheme open to fraud?

Yes the Council was allocated a pot of funding by the Government to distribute and many checks and balances were already in place (including a watching brief from Internal Audit) to ensure the risks of fraud through the business support grant application process were minimal (Ruth Dennis)


Proposed layby closures in Kirkby and Sutton, as proposed by the County Council for social distancing purposes, was still going ahead despite fierce opposition from the Leader of the Council.  This could be the death knell for local shops already struggling with the pandemic restrictions


Panel Members agreed

Were businesses covered for this type of pandemic emergency through their insurances?

Recent conversation with insurers had revealed this type of emergency was not covered although there were some pending court cases awaiting judgements (Richard Fuller – County Battery)




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