Coronavirus (COVID-19)

All Council-owned buildings are closed to the public until further notice. We will continue to provide you with the latest guidance, information and updates on our services.

All coronavirus information
Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Our services

Changes to the delivery of our services during the coronavirus pandemic

As a result of government instructions to stay at home we have changed the way we deliver our services. We will be updating this page and our social media channels if there are any changes to our services as soon as possible.

As you can imagine we are currently experiencing a high volume of calls. We know this is a hard time for our residents, businesses and communities, and we are working as quickly as we can to disseminate information as and when it is available.

Benefits

Struggling with paying your rent

You can apply for Universal Credit for income support. You can find out more information and how to apply via our website. Please note we only wish to receive information electronically.

You can also find more information from The Department for Work and Pensions about Coronavirus and claiming benefits on their website. 


Sharing information electronically

Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) we only wish to receive information electronically. Therefore you will be unable to come to our offices to hand this information in person.


New benefit claimants

New benefit claimants for help with housing costs: if you want to make a new claim for Housing Benefit you will have to claim Universal Credit using GOV.UK Universal Credit services

Car parks

Free parking for NHS and key workers

In the face of this global pandemic, it’s essential that NHS staff and critical key workers are able to carry out their vital work without worrying about paying for car parking.

Working in partnership with the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP), a digital permit will allow NHS and key workers to park in Braintree District Council’s Pay & Display car parks free of charge. Permits will be valid until 30 September 2020 and will be reviewed regularly taking into consideration any national guidance.

Applying for a free permit

Any NHS staff and critical key workers may apply for this permit. For more details and to find out how to apply, please visit the North Essex Parking Partnership website.

Whilst many councils are suspending parking charges for key workers as part of the national effort to tackle coronavirus, please note that we will continue to carry out crucial parking enforcement locally to ensure the public are kept safe and that the roads remain clear for emergency vehicles and essential services.

For more information about car parking, applying for permits and how NEPP is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit: http://www1.parkingpartnership.org/north/

George Yard Multi Storey Car Park

Closure of upper floors and lifts: In the interest of public safety, we have decided to close access to the upper floors of this car park and so the lifts will not be available to use.

All our other car parks are open as usual. Halstead Town Council manage the car parks in Halstead and is also offering free car parkig for NHS and Key Workers. For more information, visit https://www.halsteadtowncouncil.org.uk/

Closure of council buildings

Following Government advice to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have decided to close all Braintree District Council public buildings to the public from Monday 23rd March 2020 until further notice. This applies to:

Whilst public buildings are being closed to the public, our other services are continuing to run as normal. For changes to our services, please keep updated via our website and social media channels.

Braintree Town Hall

Following the Government’s announcement on the 23rd March regarding gatherings of more than two people are not permitted, the Town Hall and Registration Service are now unable to support any wedding, civil partnership at this time.

Those with ceremonies booked at the Town Hall and needing assistance please email [email protected], please do not call the Town Hall. A member of the Team will be in touch.

Closure of cemetery chapels

All three of our chapels (Braintree, Bocking and Witham) are now closed for services until further notice in line with the government guidance on social distancing. Our cemeteries do remain open.

The Cemeteries team are happy to offer a memorial service for the deceased at a later date, if required, for family and friends. You can contact the team at [email protected] for queries.

We will continue to offer graveside services and committals, in line with the guidance on social distancing, so following guidance from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICMM), we will be asking only immediate family to attend. This does not include Ministers, Conductors and Bearers.

Following government guidance on social distancing to minimise public contact with families and our staff, we are only offering ‘Next in Line’ graves for upcoming burials. This means we are unable to meet families on site to choose a grave location and they will be offered our next numerical grave space.

How to contact us

If you need to contact us, you can access our services online or email our Customer Service Centre at [email protected].

We will be reviewing these closures regularly and will look to reopen them as soon as possible depending on Government guidelines regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and we will of course keep you updated.
 

Alternative arrangements are in place for usual drop in visitors to Causeway House who need assistance with services:

  • As usual, anyone who does not have access to the internet or would like assistance with filling in housing applications online, can contact our Housing team by emailing [email protected] or for those that do not have internet access, they can call 01376 552525
  • For those customers who are already receiving Housing Benefit, if you have had a change in your financial circumstances, please contact the Benefits team via email [email protected] or telephone 01376 557852, or send in your evidence via email or post
     
  • For licensing applications, most can be submitted electronically at www.braintree.gov.uk/licensing. Where this is not possible applicants should contact the Licensing team on 01376 557790 to make specific arrangements.
     
  • For people who may wish to drop off documents or payments i.e. planning applications or council tax payments by cheque to the Council offices, there is still the opportunity to post these through our letterbox which will be regularly collected.

Closure of leisure centres

Following the Government directive to closure all leisure facilities, Fusion have now closed all four of our leisure centres until further notice.

The following centres this applies to are:

  • Braintree Swimming & Fitness
  • Braintree Sport & Health Club
  • Halstead Leisure Centre
  • Witham Leisure Centre & Witham Sports Ground

Keep updated with the latest news via Fusion’s website and social media channels.

Waste and Recycling

Garden waste collections suspended

Published 24 March 2020

Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) we have made the decision to suspend garden waste collections at close of business today for the foreseeable future.

The Council has taken this decision so it can focus resources on collecting essential grey bins, food waste bins and recycling sacks from households, as well as glass bottles and jars from, bring bank sites.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to reduced resources within the service as well as an increase in the amount of rubbish and recycling households are putting out for collection as they spend more time at home.

Whilst the service is suspended you will be unable to report missed garden waste collections.

What can I do with my garden waste whilst the service is suspended? 

Whilst these collections are on hold, why not consider home composting as much of your garden waste as possible?  The Love Essex website provides information on how to create your own home compost.

I have a second green bin subscription – what does the suspension mean to me?

If you have a subscription for a second green bin collection, we can:

  • offer you a refund
  • offer a rebate that can be carried over to the new financial year.

Both options will be pro-rata to the term of the suspension.

All other collections are currently unaffected

The collection of all other recycling and rubbish materials including flats and assisted collections are currently unaffected.

For the latest public health guidance visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus


You can sign up to our text message service to receive waste collection service updates.

Recycling Sacks

To help us manage this service, please only request additional clear sacks if you do not have enough to last you until your next collection date. We have plenty of stock and will get deliveries out to households within 10 working days.

The annual delivery of recycling sacks is due to commence in June. In the meantime if you need more sacks please fill out our online form.


Bulky waste collections

We have suspended bookings for our bulky waste collections until further notice. We will be undertaking any bookings that have already been received and paid for. We are regularly reviewing this and will keep you informed when we are able to provide the service again.


Recycling centres

Essex County Council has announced all recycling centres across Essex are now closed until further notice to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). You can read more details on the Love Essex website. 

Please visit the Love Essex website for updates on Coronavirus impact on waste services in Essex and information on the disposal of tissues.


How to dispose of waste if you are self-isolating or have Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you and your household is asked to self-isolate, either as a precaution or because of confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19), please follow this advice to dispose of your household waste to ensure the virus is not spread via personal waste.

  • Place all personal waste such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths, securely in a plastic bag or bin liner.
  • This plastic bag should then be placed in another plastic bag and securely tied.
  • These bags must be stored separately to other waste for at least 72 hours before being placed in the general rubbish collection.

After 72 hours outside the body the virus is no longer viable and the double-bagged waste can be put in your grey bin/black sack collection as normal. Only waste that is heavily contaminated, such as tissues that have been coughed in and cleaning cloths that have been heavily contaminated need to be treated in this way.

Regular household recycling and waste should be treated as normal. Please note that you cannot place tissues in your recycling.

For more information on the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on recycling and waste visit the Love Essex website.


Social distancing measures

In order to follow the government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance regarding social distancing, we have introduced new measures to help support and protect our recycling and waste collection crews.

The typical number needed for a collection crew that is assigned to a vehicle is usually three, however, this number has been reduced to a maximum of two in a vehicle at any one time. The third crew member will join the collection vehicle using a separate, smaller council vehicle or in some cases, two collection vehicles will be used at the same time.


Bonfires and the burning of garden waste

We know it’s difficult with the Essex Recycling Centres for Household Waste closed and garden waste collections suspended, but in view of the health implications linked to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (respiratory condition), we are asking residents NOT TO BURN their garden waste, or any other waste.

Smoke from bonfires is anti-social and can cause problems for neighbours and we will continue to investigate any complaints we receive.

Please home compost your waste or store it in your garden until collections are resumed. Visit www.loveessex.org to find out how to make great compost and for other useful tips.

Committee and panel meetings

In light of the current situation, we have decided to cancel the following public meetings of the Council in March and April:

  • Full Council (23rd March)
  • Licensing Committee (25th March)
  • Braintree Local Highways Panel (26th March)
  • Planning Committee (31st March)
  • Community Development Group (1st April)
  • Performance Management Board (8th April)
  • Planning Committee (14th April)
  • Corporate Governance Group (16th April)

We have made the decision to cancel these meetings following advice from Government. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update further. If you have any enquires, please contact our Governance and Members Team by emailing [email protected].

Council Tax

We understand the unprecedented situation we are in is a worrying time for residents and businesses. We are committed to doing everything we can to support you all through this period. Like everyone else the council itself is facing an impact on its finances meaning we cannot currently provide reductions or so-called holiday from the council tax. If we receive additional Government funding to do so we will pass this on.

It should be remembered we collect Council Tax on behalf of Essex County Council, Essex Police and Essex Fire and Rescue Service, along with all of the parish councils across the district. These organisations are all providing a vital role in keeping critical services running, keeping you safe and looking after our most vulnerable people. Only 10p in every pound comes to Braintree District Council.

If your household is on a low income, your Council Tax bill could be reduced through the Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) scheme offered by the Council, with those owning their own home, renting, unemployed or working able to apply.

You can see if you are eligible for this and get more information on the range of support available on our apply for council tax webpage and on the GOV.UK universal credit webpage.


Hardship Fund

The government has announced a new £500 million Hardship Fund so local authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households. The government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes or through similar measures. We are awaiting further details on this so please bear with us.

However in the meantime if you wish to discuss your Council Tax account, you should contact the Council Tax Team by email at [email protected].


Council Tax support

If you are on a reduced income and need financial support with your Council tax bill, our Council Tax Support scheme is there to help you. You can apply via our website to make an application. However, please note that some people with savings can’t get help – so please do not apply if you have savings of over £16,000.


Food Hygiene and Health & Safety

Following Government advice we have restricted our visits at the current time. Anyone wishing to start up a food business at this time must register and contact the department to discuss how they intend to operate and what they wish to sell. Please contact the Food Safety Team at [email protected] or call 01376 557790.

During the next few weeks we will be responsible for the enforcement of businesses closures. If you have concerns about any business that is currently trading and should not be please contact us at [email protected]

For the latest Coronavirus information for food businesses, please visit our dedicated webpage.

Following Government advice we have restricted our visits at the current time. Anyone wishing to start up a food business at this time must register and contact the department to discuss how they intend to operate and what they wish to sell. Please contact the Food Safety Team at [email protected] or call 01376 557790.

During the next few weeks, we will be responsible for the enforcement of businesses closures. If you have concerns about any business that is currently trading and should not be please contact us at [email protected]

HSE has produced guidelines on how businesses must maintain social distancing and protect their staff during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, as well as what employers must do in order to keep their businesses open working safely. There is also advice for those temporarily working at home.

For the latest Coronavirus information for food businesses, please visit our dedicated webpage.

Handyman service

This service has been suspended for 3 months to maintain social distancing with elderly and vulnerable residents following Government guidance. Exisiting appointments will still take place.

Licensing

Following Government guidance to ensure social distancing, we have stopped our proactive licensing visits until further notice.

Special Treatments (tattooing, ear piercing, body piercing, micro pigmentation, acupuncture, electrolysis, semi-permanent skin colouring) should not be carried out at this time and no new applications will be accepted until further notice.

We will be responding to any enquiries by phone or email. You can contact Licensing by emailing [email protected] or call 01376 557790.

Whilst our offices are shut, special arrangements are in place for driver and vehicle renewals. Please contact a member of the licensing team for further information.

Markets

In line with Government COVID-19 advice, we have made a decision to cancel our Braintree Street Markets for March, April and May. This is to help protect our residents, visitors, traders and staff during the Coronavirus outbreak as their health & safety remains our number one priority.

Following the latest Government guidelines, the Braintree & Witham weekly markets will only be open to traders that offer essential food and groceries until further notice.

Planning

Due to the ongoing situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures announced by the government on 23rd March, we have had to make a number of changes to our planning service:

Pre-Application advice

The Planning team will continue to offer a pre-application service. We have had to make some changes to the methods and range of advice we are able to offer at the current time.  Full details of the changes can be found on our Planning advice webpage

Applications

We are unable to commence public consultation on certain applications received from 24th March 2020 i.e. send notification letters to neighbouring properties, display a site notice(s) or advertising in the press (if applicable). This is also relevant to a small number of applications received prior to this date. We will be keeping this situation under regular review  however, due to the above, there will likely be a delay in determining certain applications. The Planning Officer will keep applicants and agents updated.

People will be given the full statutory time period to consider applications and submit any representations or comments. Applications will be held in abeyance until such time as the public consultation on the application can commence.

People are able to comment on applications prior to public consultation. Any comments should be made online via our website. In order to comment, you will need to complete a short registration process. Once registered you will be able to make your comments as well as tracking the application until this has been determined. Download our Public access user guide for further guidance.

Where public consultation has already been undertaken on an application, we will continue to issue decisions on applications where possible. 

Post

People can post us through our Causeway House letterbox, which will be regularly collected. However, you can also e-mail any correspondence to [email protected] or if you are submitting representations on a planning application please use our public access website.

Street Naming & Numbering applications

We are currently unable to complete site visits and display site notices at this time. Once the nationwide shielding and social distancing restrictions have been lifted, the display of site notices will start as soon as possible. All other work that can be completed remotely will continue, including the processing of card payments. Royal Mail have not indicated any delay to issuing postcodes at this time but this is subject to change. Please contact the Street Naming & Numbering department for further information ([email protected])


Duty Planning Officer arrangements

Due to the ongoing public health situation with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19) we have had to revise the arrangements for our Tuesday and Thursday mornings Duty Planner Service.

Going forward customers will need to e-mail [email protected] with some brief details of their enquiry and details of name, address and a contact telephone number.  A Planning Officer will then ring you within the allotted times (09:30 to 11:30) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Play areas

All our play areas and outdoor gyms are closed until further notice to maintain social distancing and to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This closure includes all play areas and outdoor gyms owned and maintained by us.

Signage will be up in all play parks to make people aware of these closures.

We are keeping our public spaces open at the moment, to give people space to walk, exercise once a day, and to help their mental wellbeing. If you visit one of our public spaces, please do follow the Government’s social distancing guidance.

We will update you when they are open again.

If you have concerns about people congregating, please call the local police on 101 who have been given temporary powers to disperse people in any public areas.

Public toilets

In response to the coronavirus, we have closed the public toilets in Witham (Maldon Road Park and Newland Street Car Park) until further notice. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Schools and libraries

We are not responsible for schools or education, as this comes under the remit of Essex County Council. They have also closed all libraries for a period of up to three months in response to the coronavirus situation. The closure took place on (Friday 20 March). Keep updated with the latest information via their website. 

Stay updated

To be kept updated with the latest information, please keep an eye on these webpages. If your enquiry isn’t already covered, we would encourage you to contact us using our online forms or email us at [email protected].