Service disruptions – Coronavirus (Covid-19)

 

Visit NHS UK for health and wellbeing advice on dealing with coronavirus (Covid-19) or Gov.uk for the government’s guidance on coronavirus.

We have closed most of our public buildings but will continue to run essential frontline services. Our priorities at this time are to:

  • ensure continuity of care
  • support vulnerable people
  • support the local economy

If you need to contact us please do it online in the first instance, or by phone on 0118 937 3787 if it is an urgent welfare issue. We appreciate your patience as we deal with enquiries at this busy time. We will prioritise those in most urgent need of our help, and we will respond to everyone as soon as is possible.

The government’s advice on coronavirus will change regularly. Please check back here for the latest council service information.

How services are being affected

Adult social care

Adult care forums

Libraries

Housing

Homelessness

Rent Guarantee Scheme

Births, deaths and ceremonies

Planning

Waste services

Leisure

Museum, Town Hall and Berkshire Record Office

South Street and the Hexagon

Allotments

Community venues and facilities

Ward surgeries

Reading Magistrates Court

Overseas pension validations – Proof of Life Certificates

Adult social care

Face-to-face visits are being limited to essential only. We are making phone and virtual assessments where necessary and viable.

Strathy Close Day Centre is open with restrictions.

Whitley Wood Respite Service is running with limited capacity.

Maple Day Centre closed until further notice.

Nursing homes – please contact nursing homes directly for their policies and guidance.

Adult care forums

Some of the adult care forums have moved to online meetings and members have been contacted with information on how to join. If you would like to join a forum or if you need IT support to do so, please contact us at wellbeing.service@reading.gov.uk or on 07811 026070.

Children’s services

Key workers’ childcare

Brighter Futures for Children

Housing

Homelessness

Please be advised that as a result of the closure of the Civic Office in line with the social distancing advice from the government, we are changing the way we are delivering our service. Therefore please be aware of the following:

  • Our Homelessness Prevention Teams and Tenancy Sustainment Team will still be operating their essential services, however the Civic Offices will not be open for face to face appointments
  • We will no longer be home visiting, unless this is considered an essential visit
  • If we consider the visit to be essential you will be asked screening questions prior to the visit taking place, and as a result this may change to a different format of communication
  • If you are at risk of becoming homeless and would like some advice please contact 0118 9372165 to discuss, or email less urgent enquiries to housing.advice@reading.go.uk
  • If you have an appointment booked with one of the Homeless Prevention Officers this will still go ahead on the phone. You will receive a call at the time of your booked appointment. Please ensure you have your phone charged, and if possible you are in a private area to receive the call and to discuss your housing needs. If this is not possible, please call 0118 937 2165 and leave a message with your name, number and enquiry and you will receive a call back before the end of the day. Alternatively, you can email the team at housing.advice@reading.gov.uk. If you have the direct dial number of the Officer you were due to see, call them on the number provided.
  • If you already have an allocated Officer please contact them directly on their direct dial number which should have been provided to you
  • If you would like to provide any supporting information, or you are requested to provide documents during this time we will accept a photo or scanned copy of the document, which can be emailed to us at housing.advice@reading.gov.uk – please be advised that this will need to clear and legible
  • Any correspondence that we are required to send to you will be sent via email
  • If you call our main Housing Advice number, 0118 9372165 you will only have the facility to leave a message, however the answerphone will  be regularly checked throughout the day and you will receive a call back the same day if your message is left before 4pm.

Rent Guarantee Scheme

The Rent Guarantee Scheme is offering many of our usual services, although some may be delivered in a different way to normal. Please be aware that we will be asking screening questions before arranging face to face appointments.

RGS viewings and signups will no longer be taking place, unless there are exceptional circumstances. However, we will continue to support existing RGS landlords at this time. Please email the team on rgs@reading.gov.uk if you have any queries.

Planning

The planning service is still operating. However, staff are now entirely home-based, and this has had some implications for the way that the service is running. 

Contacting the Planning Service

General enquiries should be made through the council’s contact centre as normal. In order to ensure that you receive a response, please provide an email address.

Case officers will be available to contact by email, and this is the preferred method of contact. General email addresses for other parts of the service such as Planning Policy and Natural Environment will continue to be used. Planning enforcement enquiries should be made through the website.

Site visits

Planning, enforcement or natural environment officers will not be able to undertake site visits until further notice. Applicants should please provide comprehensive photographs of the outside and inside of a property and/or relevant views out.  Some applications will not be able to be considered at this time, and the Council is currently considering how this should be approached.

Submitting applications

The preferred method of submission is via the Planning Portal. Applications submitted by hard copy will experience delay in processing.

Consultation responses

Whilst we are operating in this manner, for any consultations on planning applications that have not yet commenced, only consultation responses sent electronically, either by email or submitted online, will be accepted.

Site notices

The planning section will not be able to print and send site notices at the current time.

Meetings

Officers of the planning service will not be conducting face-to-face meetings until further notice. Officers are contactable over email or by phone. Pre-application enquiries for a scoping meeting will need to be delayed in most cases.

Births, deaths and ceremonies

Ceremonies

New ceremony and notice of marriage/civil partnership bookings are now open.

From 29th March we are permitted to hold ceremonies with up to 6 people in attendance (including the couple).

We are in the process of contacting customers whose ceremonies and appointments were cancelled.

Please continue to check this website regularly for updates.

Births

In line with government advice, Reading Registration Service remains open, and we are able to continue registering births at this time.

To book an appointment, please book online or contact us on 0118 9373533. Appointments are held at the Civic Offices on Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU.

We are aware that appointments are booking up well in advance, so are currently working to increase our availability. Please check back later if you cannot find a date to suit your needs.

Nationality and immigration

We are currently offering virtual citizenship ceremonies to customers whose naturalisation certificate we have received from the Home Office.

Please note we will contact you to invite you to book once we have received your certificate. Please do not call us unless you have received a letter from Reading Register Office.

Appointments are offered in the order we receive certificates. If you would like an urgent citizenship ceremony but have not yet received an invitation from us, you may contact us to pay for a private virtual ceremony at a cost of £115.

Any queries, please contact Home Office on 0300 123 2241.

Bereavement services

As of Monday 12th April 2021, the Cemetery Office is open to the public. We ask that masks be worn and that a maximum of two visitors are in Reception at one time to adhere to Social distancing regulations.

The maximum number of attendees for a full burial is 30 but scattering of ashes has been reduced to 6. You can find a full list of service disruptions at the cemeteries and crematorium here.

Waste services

Please wash your hands before putting your bins out and clean your bin handles before bringing the bin back in.

Waste collections will start from 6am each day rather than 7am until further notice.

Both recycling centres – Island Road, Reading and Longshot Lane, Bracknell – are open by appointment only. You can book up to 7 days in advance. To make a booking please use the Click &Tip service.

Bottle and clothing banks – due to increased demand we are increasing collections from the banks. If the banks are too full to use, please take your recycling home and try again when the banks have been emptied. 

Leisure

  • March 29th – recommence outdoor activities. This will include clubs at Palmer Park, football sports pitches, tennis courts and outdoor gyms.
  • No earlier than April 12th –  limited indoor activities. This will include gyms, casual swimming sessions, children’s swimming lessons, and possibly some indoor sports hall activity at South Reading, Meadway and Palmer Park centres. 
  • No earlier than May 17th – other indoor activities; specifically the group exercise training programme.

Allotments

Allotments remain open but we are reducing the allotment maintenance service – grass cutting, waste removal and general maintenance. We will still carry out emergency repairs.

Museum, Town Hall and Berkshire Record Office (BRO)

Reading Museum is set to reopen from Tuesday 18 May. 

Berkshire Archaeology site visits are suspended but the service remains operational.

The BRO will close to public visitors.

Reading Town Hall will continue to facilitate the operation of the Coroners Service.

The Pantry remains closed.

South Street and the Hexagon

South Street and the Hexagon are closed.

The Hexagon will reopen with the show ‘On Track on Friday 28 May.

Venues are able to run for non-public performance, rehearsals and training.

Community venues and facilities

From 12 April, in line with national safety guidelines we will be reopening a small number of community sites in Reading and extending the range of use within some buildings that were previously opened. Community facilities reopening.

Ward surgeries

The decision has been taken to suspend regular councillor ward surgeries until further notice. 

Your ward councillors remain contactable and you can still reach them by phone or by email. Councillor contact information.

Reading Magistrates Court

For further information on how the courts and tribunals are planning and preparing for COVID 19 see the latest guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation

Overseas pension validations – Proof of Life Certificates

Council officials are currently unable to sign Proof of Life Certificates for residents who need this for the continued payment of their overseas pensions. This service has been suspended while the Civic Offices are not open to the public, and the staff who usually certify this documentation are working from home. Please consult the embassy or consulate of the country paying your pension for further advice.

Infection rates are rising national and locally. Keep up to date with what is happening in Reading at www.berkshirepublichealth.co.uk.