Robert's Weekly Column - 15th April 2020

I hope that despite the unique circumstances everybody had a peaceful Easter weekend and found initiative ways to keep in touch with friends and family. For a Bank Holiday weekend, the weather was uncharacteristically sunny, so I would like to thank everybody who did the right thing and despite the nice weather continued to follow the Government’s rules on social distancing and stayed at home.

In my previous weekly article, I wrote about the worrying news that our Prime Minister had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital. I am glad that this week I am able to say that he has been released from hospital. On Sunday the Prime Minister in a heartfelt video paid his personal thanks for the tremendous work of all our NHS heroes across the country and to those who saved his life.

A new website has been launched to help NHS staff, health and social care workers and NHS volunteers (critical care workers) find free parking locations quickly and easily, supporting the Government’s Coronavirus free parking scheme for critical workers. This new service enables you to search for parking near to where you need to go and whilst you do not need to register in advance for council operated parking, you will need to prove your eligibility. The website can be found via: www.parkopedia.co.uk/nhs-covid19-parking/

My constituency office has understandably been receiving an unprecedented amount of correspondence from constituents who are concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on their jobs and their incomes. I am pleased that a national campaign to get small businesses reaching out for support for their business and themselves has been launched by Small Business Britain. Times are tough and the new campaign is designed to help navigate small business owners through the support available to them and their business. More information can be found on their website: https://smallbusinessbritain.uk/the-big-support

This is a particularly difficult time for parents and Action for Children are on hand to support them through this period as Coronavirus puts extra pressure on families. Their website contains lots of guidance for parents concerned about Coronavirus, with tips on where to go for help and advice, as well as specific resources to aid mental and emotional wellbeing. There is also the option to chat to parenting coaches online, and to read articles featuring their suggestions for keeping children of all ages engaged and entertained. All of this can be found via: www.parents.actionforchildren.org.uk/

Over recent weeks I have also received a series of complaints from residents about bonfires. I contacted Swindon Borough Council about this issue, and they have since published the following guidance. Bonfires should be avoided at all costs during this time of crisis as they can: cause difficulties for residents with breathing problems as well as those displaying symptoms of Coronavirus; release toxic smoke when some items are burnt; upset neighbours who want to open their windows and enjoy their gardens; and quickly get out control and put additional pressures on emergency respondents.