General Topics

Recycling - items not for the green bin

Recycling other itemsHave you ever wished you could recycle items that you can't put into the green bin like those Pringle packs with plastic, cardboard and metal all combined, or those coffee pods made of plastic and foil? Well now you can. An enterprising group called Terracyle will take these and other items that cannot go into the usual green recycling bin. The recycled goods are sold back and funds raised go to charity.

See their Facebbok page for more information - https://www.facebook.com/1208048709362102/posts/1335650569935248/.

There are collection points at Headley, Tadworth and now a more local one in Leatherhead at

15 Oaks Close
Leatherhead
Surrey
KT22 7SH

Please ensure items are sorted into different schemes. So crisps not mixed with sweets and biscuits etc. Resorting takes too much time. Use bags or boxes that you would be throwing away so no new plastic bags. Just reuse what you have.

Mole Valley Chamber

Mole Valley Chamber

Previously called The Chamber of Commerce - Mole Valley Chamber – will be running an online Zoom meeting on the subject "The Government's Working Safely Guidelines require every business to conduct a Risk Assessment before reopening."

Details, including how to take part, are on the Chamber web site. Click here to follow link and to register for the session.

Businesses can now join the Chamber free of charge – since this initiative was started membership has grown by just under 20%, which means more businesses are networking with each other!

Postponed AGM 2020 - Report & Accounts

We are sorry that the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that Ashtead Residents’ Association has had to postpone its AGM scheduled for 29th April; we will reinstate the meeting once we have the go ahead from government to resume normal life. In the meantime, you can view the Chairman’s Report and the Annual Accounts by clicking on the links below.

The postponement of the AGM has meant that the Election of Officers has also not taken place but will be held over until the AGM can be reinstated later in 2020.

Chairman's Report for 2020

Annual Accounts for 2019/20

This is why we live here!

Taken by John Fenn on Ashtead Rye Meadows in August. Two of the Rye Meadows' volunteers are just visible in the background.

Deer RM 8 20 2

Updates from Chris Grayling MP.

Message dated 13th October 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing with a further update about the current situation.

I’m afraid to report that there has been a significant increase in the number of people locally infected with COVID-19 in the past couple of weeks. Although the total is still below much of the rest of the country, it is a reminder that we are not immune from a revival of the virus here. There has also been a small, but noticeable increase in the number of patients with the virus at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals.

Local COVID-19 Alert Levels

You will have seen that the Prime Minister has just announced a new system of restrictions for affected areas. We are currently categorised as a medium risk area and as a result there have been no changes to the restrictions that apply in Surrey. Here is the explanation of the new guidance for different areas of the country.

Face Covering

I have been asked again by some constituents to remind everyone of the importance of wearing a mask when out shopping or walking round a pub or restaurant, or while on public transport. It’s not just about the immediate health benefits. There are still many people locally who are reluctant to go out, and if everyone wears a mask it gives them confidence that they can leave their homes.

Places of Worship

For those of you who are normally attenders at one of our local places of worship, it might be helpful for you to know that these are continuing to be open, albeit in a controlled way. Full details of what is permitted is here .

Project Wenceslas

Rotary Club of Ewell and Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell are working together again this year on what they call ‘Project Wenceslas’. There are people who will struggle to meet the cost of fuel to heat their homes over winter and Project Wenceslas allows those who receive, but do not need, the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment to donate it to Ewell Rotary. This money can be distributed to people in critical need of assistance with fuel bills, i.e. those in “fuel poverty”. All monies donated are redistributed 100% without any deductions for costs or expenses.

If you would like to know more about donating your Winter Fuel Payment, please contact Ewell Rotary via their website www.ewellrotaryclub.org.uk. If you are struggling with fuel bills, and these cost over 10% of your income, then contact Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell on 0300 330 1164 (Mon-Fri, 10am – 4pm) or see their website .

Epsom and Ewell Business Awards

A reminder about this year’s Coronavirus special Epsom and Ewell Business Awards, which this year are being held to recognise a local business that has been exceptional in supporting the community and its customers during the pandemic. Please do enter any business who you think is deserving of recognition. You can do so via the website.

Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night is bound to be different this year because of the restrictions. But I expect many people will decide to have a bonfire in their garden instead. If you do, please spare a thought for our local hedgehogs, who often nestle in piles of brushwood. Please do check your bonfires before you light them.
Finally, I have tried to highlight local services that have been working hard on our behalf in the last few months. I would like to mention the work being done by the team at the Epsom Jobcentre Plus office, and the support teams in their regional centres that work with them, who have worked very hard to deal with all of the problems arising from the pandemic. Thank you to all of them.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling

Message Dated 26th September 2020

Coronavirus - latest update

Latest information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update about Coronavirus issues.

Winter Economy Plan

Firstly, you will have seen that the Government announced yesterday a package of additional support for employers and employees. I have yet to get all of the detailed information about the package, but you can access initial information here .

If you have specific questions please let me know, and I will try to find the answers for you.

Coronavirus restrictions: what is and is not permitted

You will be aware of the tightening of some of the coronavirus restrictions earlier in the week. All the details about what is and is not permitted can be found here :

I appreciate that there are strong views locally about what is happening, particularly as we remain an area where incidence of the virus is relatively low still. As these messages are meant to focus on providing information, I won’t get into the debate here. But the one thing I would say is that I hear strong views on both sides of the argument locally, with some people wanting more measures and some fewer.

I would, though, encourage people to follow social distancing guidelines in particular, whether you are out shopping or a young person walking in a large group coming home from school. If nothing else, we do want to stop the virus spreading back through our local community and risking the safety of more vulnerable people.

Flu Jabs

A number of people have raised with me the issue of flu jabs this winter. As you may know, the Government is recommending that as well as the over-65s, those between 50 and 65 also have the jab this year. However the initial priority is to inoculate the over-65s, who are at most risk from flu, and people with particular health vulnerabilities. The aim is to get this done by November. From November onwards the intention is to extend the programme to the younger age group. I am expecting people to receive a direct invitation from their GP practice when they are due to receive a jab.

There has been some speculation about whether there will be enough vaccinations available. I was on a call with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer this morning and he told us that several tens of millions of doses are due for delivery, and that the stock will be far more than we have ever had before. So whilst I can’t be absolutely sure, it does look as if there will be plenty available for those who need the vaccination. Fingers crossed.

Epsom and Ewell Business Awards

Finally, you may remember that I founded the Epsom and Ewell business awards a few years ago to recognise local businesses that go the extra mile for the local community and for their customers. Because of this year’s special circumstances, the 2020 awards are going to be streamlined and a little different. Instead of the normal range of awards and a presentation ceremony, we are doing the awards with a Coronavirus theme and the prizes will be awarded in an on-line ceremony later in the year.

The prizes this year will be awarded to businesses that have gone out of their way to do more for local people and the local community during the crisis. That may be a business which has provided extra support for the NHS or which has done extra home delivery for the elderly, for example. Details of the awards are at www.epsombusinessawards.co.uk . Please do either enter or nominate an entry.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

The full list of government guidelines and advice is available here .

Contact Chris:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. <mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Constituency Office: 01372 271 036

Address: 212 Barnett Wood Lane, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 2DB

Message dated 12th September 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with another update about coronavirus issues.

Coronavirus Guidance

As you will have heard, the rules and the guidance changed this week to limit meetings to six people. This can be indoors or outdoors, as the autumn and winter are coming soon.

I have received a number of questions about the detail of the changes. The full detail of what was announced is here.

The important thing is to make sure that there isn’t a resurgence of the virus in our area. At the moment the incidence remains pretty low compared with other areas, but none of us want to see it start to spread again here.

Access to GP services locally

I have also received a number of questions about access to GP services locally. GPs have remained open throughout the crisis, though practices have changed their ways of working. In particular most appointments are now made online. However if people do not have access to a computer to book an appointment, they can still do so by phone. This is the guidance I have received.

All practices across Surrey have introduced a digital software platform called ‘Footfall’. This saves time for patients in allowing them to register an issue 24/7, seven days a week with their practice. The software will direct the issue to the right service who in turn will respond. However this is only to complement services already available from the practice including being able to ring and book an appointment. We realise not all patients want to use a digital approach and that is completely acceptable. To be honest the vast majority of all work in general practice is still being carried out by phone.

Job opportunity

If you are looking for a new job at the moment, the local Job Centre Plus team have asked me to tell people that they are currently recruiting new work coaches for claimants. The details are at www.civilservicejobs.service.gov.uk.

Face coverings and deafness

I have had a request from a constituent who works to support deaf people to remind everyone locally that the widespread wearing of masks can cause problem for people with hearing impairments and who normally depend on lip reading. There are some helpful suggestions about this here.

For anyone who is still worried about going out shopping locally, I would just reassure you that social distancing measures and hygiene measures are routine in all our local centres, and local businesses are taking great care over the pandemic. Most people are also wearing masks when shopping, and I would urge everyone to do so. It’s not just about protecting against the virus – it’s also a reassurance for anyone who is nervous about being out shopping.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

Message dated 7th August 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the coronavirus crisis and one other matter.

Firstly I am aware that there are many people locally who are still unsure about leaving their homes. This is particularly true of those who have been shielding, but there are also others who are worried about being out and about locally.

I will in the coming days be circulating a leaflet to homes in the Epsom and Ewell area giving people who are unsure about going out contacts of the different organisations who are working together to try to provide help and reassurance. I have attached a copy of the leaflet with this update, and would be grateful if you could also circulate this to anyone you know in this position – either electronically or by printing it out and giving it to them.

To access the leaflet click here

The new, extended rules on wearing masks come into force on August 8th. I know that there has been some confusion about what is required. The official guidance is here.

You do have to wear a mask in the locations listed. It is an offence not to do so and you can be fined. There are exceptions and there is also a list of those circumstances where you do not have to wear a mask if you follow the same link.

Eat Out to Help Out

The special Eat out to Help Out discount scheme to support restaurants, pubs and cafes get their businesses going again has now started. This links to an explanation of the scheme and also gives a link to a list of businesses in our area which are offering the discounts. Click here for further details.

Invicta Academy

If your family has young people who have missed out on schooling over the past few months, there is a local project starting which is designed to help fill in some of the gaps. It is called the Invicta Academy, and will provide online educational help. You can find details at www.invictaacademysurrey.com

Engineering works at Ashtead station

A separate piece of information for those who live in Ashtead. Network Rail have scheduled more engineering works at Ashtead station, to renew track and sleepers. For the duration of the works, residents will be able to park at Ashtead station car park, free of charge. A mini-bus taxi service will be provided to take residents home if required (running from the north side of the station footbridge) and an onsite information point will be made available.

Finally a little bit about the state of the virus in our area. The current figures show that the incidence of the virus is very low locally and across Surrey. There was only one case in Epsom and Ewell last week. Epsom Hospital now has virtually no patients with the virus. However it remains extremely important to maintain social distancing as we go into the autumn, given the fact that in other parts of the country the incidence of the virus is rising again.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message dated 13th July 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a short further update on Coronavirus issues.
Firstly, I know that a number of people are still concerned about leaving home at the moment because of health concerns. I would reassure you that the risk posed by the virus is currently much lower than it was in the spring, and whilst everyone still needs to take great care and maintain social distancing, the level of infection in Surrey is very low indeed. As long as you take care, it is no longer necessary or desirable for people to shut themselves away at home still.

If you are one of those who have been shielding, the recommendations change from the end of this month. The details of the latest recommendations are here. They explain what is now thought to be safe and what you can do after August 1st.

Sport and Recreation

As you may know, local gyms are now allowed to open again, as are most of the rest of the businesses that have been closed. I know there are concerns about some of the rules that still apply, and where I think that it would be sensible to make changes, I am raising concerns with the responsible ministers. Please do feel free to contact me if you have concerns about the way the new rules are working.

The guidance for gyms and sports facilities is here.

And this is the guidance for people on other sports and recreation.

Local Restaurants

Finally, I will be updating my website to highlight which local restaurants are taking part in the Government discount scheme in August. If you are one of those, please let me know and I will publish a list later this month.

In the meantime please do use our local pubs and restaurants. It’s important that we get their businesses going again, albeit making sure that everyone keeps to the social distancing guidelines.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling

Message Posted 26th June 2020

Dear constituent

Having said that I was going to reduce the number of updates, immediately some new things came along, and so this is a further update on what has happened this week.

Firstly, if you are one of those who has been shielding, the Government has announced that the current guidance will stop at the end of July and you will be able to return to normal, though I would still advise you to take care. You can also meet a group of up to six people outdoors from the 6th July, which should allow you to meet up with your family again. If you are living alone you are also from then able to set up a support bubble with one other household.

You can find the guidance on this here.

The reason that this has been possible is that the incidence of the virus has fallen sharply and continues to fall. According to the Office for National Statistics, only around 1 in 1,700 people is currently affected, and so the chance of meeting someone who is infected is small.

But we need to keep it that way, which is why some restrictions remain in place, and I do know that there are concerns in our local NHS that there is a risk that the virus will return in the autumn. That’s why we all need to continue to take care.

Government Food Boxes

The change to shielding rules also means that the Government food boxes will stop from 1st August. However, those who have been shielding should still have priority for supermarket deliveries for a little while longer. If you have any problems with this, please do let me know and I will do what I can to help.

Epsom Hospital - Return to Normal Service

I have been asked to provide an update about the return of normal service at Epsom Hospital. This is the current situation.

Outpatient departments are now accepting all referrals from GPs and doing 50% of the consultations virtually.

The diagnostics services have now separated out all facilities (apart from MRI) into one service for planned care and one service for emergency patients so that they minimise any risks of spreading the virus.

The Elective Orthopaedic Centre, which had been reprovisioned as an intensive care facility for Coronavirus patients, is back open and by mid-July will be doing a full range of joint replacements.

The day surgery unit will be back open by mid-July, and inpatient elective operations by the end of July.

Finally a lot of planned care will be carried out at Ashtead Hospital until at least end of August - it is classified as an entirely Coronavirus-free hospital.

Support for shops and local firms

I was out shopping in Epsom on Saturday and it was good to see many people supporting local shops. Please do continue to do so, as well as our local pubs and restaurants as they start to reopen.

Finally, Surrey County Council says that libraries will start to reopen from July 6th. More details here.

 

Message Posted 20th June 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the Coronavirus situation. As things hopefully return to something much closer to normality, I will soon go back to doing periodic updates about a range of local issues. If at that point you want me to stop including you on the mailing list, please just unsubscribe at the bottom of the page.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

Firstly, an update from last week’s message. I have now found out what is happening at Chessington. Although the zoo part of the World of Adventures is now open again, there will continue to be a test centre there for the rest of the year. You can, though, also order tests to be sent to your home.

A reminder that the link to get tests done is here.

Advice for those in the shielding group

For those of you who are in the shielding group, I know that you may have seen a report that shielding advice will be lifted at the end of July. I very much hope that this proves to be the case, but no change has actually been announced. I know these past few weeks have been really difficult for those in that position, and I will let you know as soon as I hear anything.

I know that some of those who have been shielding and receiving the Government food boxes have had a delivery problem in the past few days. If you are in that position, will you please let me know and I will try to get things sorted for you.

Support for shops and local firms

For those of you who run shops and similar businesses locally, the Government has extended the period when you cannot be evicted if you run into problems with your rent payments. The details are here.

Shop local

If you are in the Ashtead area, the local Rotary Club is organising a shop local week next week to encourage people to use the shops which have just reopened – including a competition for Ashtead’s favourite trader. Details are here.

Garden waste collections resume in Nork and Tattenhams

Finally if you are in the Nork and Tattenhams area, the Council’s green waste collections are starting again next week. Details are here.
Have a good weekend.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

Message Posted 13th June 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the Coronavirus situation. Firstly, for those who are relatively new to receiving these updates, a few people have asked why I have not been commenting about national controversial political issues.

I have always made sure that my local updates are just that, focusing on things that either inform about what is happening in the area or providing what I hope is useful information. They are aimed at everyone locally regardless of political persuasion, and so I always try to avoid political matters.

Reopening of shops

As you are probably aware, virtually all local shops will be open again from next Monday. Most of their owners have really struggled in recent weeks, and so I would encourage everyone who can next week to go out and buy something from one of the reopened shops. I hope to see you there.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

I’m afraid I gave you some misinformation in the last bulletin about testing centres. The centre in the Upper High Street Car Park is no longer there. It was only established on a temporary basis – there are a number of mobile centres moving around the country. Sorry.

If you do test positive for the virus, you will now be contacted by the NHS’s track and trace service. A full explanation of what happens is here.

I am trying to find out what is going to happen to the test centre in Chessington once the zoo part of the World of Adventures re-opens next week. I will update you next week. But if you apply for a test online via the link I sent in my last bulletin, you will be given a range of options to choose from.

Hobbledown

Closer to home, Hobbledown is also about to reopen – initially just to members, but by the end of next week to everyone. Details on its website.

Coronavirus data

Last week one constituent asked me if I could circulate details of the level of coronavirus infections in our area. There are figures for each local authority area here.

It is worth saying that these figures cover the period going back to the start of the outbreak, and that the weekly figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown a sharp fall in the level of infection in the community over the past month.

Our local parks

Finally, I have been asked by a number of local residents to ask people to take extra care with litter, as bins are often full in the parks at the moment. Please do take any rubbish home with you.

Message posted 6th June 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update about the coronavirus crisis.

Coronavirus testing

Firstly, for those who are not aware and are experiencing symptoms, there is now an additional test centre in the Upper High Street car park in Epsom. You can book a test via this link

Travel advice

A number of people have asked me about summer holidays, what happens to bookings already made, and what may happen this summer.

Currently the Foreign Office is advising against all international travel. This should mean that in the event that you are due to travel while this advice still applies, your airline or tour operator has to refund your money, though many are trying to get customers to accept a voucher for future use instead. You do not have to accept this, though it is likely to take some time to get your money back. Insurance companies should also cover cancellation costs in this case.

You will have seen that the Government is also introducing a 14 day quarantine period from next week for most people arriving in or returning to the UK. I hope this measure will only be short-lived and that links can soon be reopened to countries that have a low incidence of the virus. The latest advice is here.

I hope that further easing of the restrictions will be in place before the summer holidays, so that people can go away either abroad or in the UK. I think it’s a particularly good year to stay in the UK and support our tourist industry if the restrictions have been lifted enough to allow this.

Face coverings on public transport

You may also have seen that passengers on public transport are now to be asked to wear face coverings when they travel. These do not have to be surgical masks, and indeed should not be as we do not want to reduce supplies to the NHS. More details are here.

Advice for those who are shielding

For those of you who are shielding, you will have probably seen the advice to you has changed, allowing you to go out of your homes again. I hope you will welcome this news, as I know how frustrating the past few weeks have been for those affected. The full updated guidance for you is here.

Antisocial behaviour in our local parks

Finally, several people have raised with me the issue of a rise in antisocial behaviour in some of our local parks. I have discussed this with local police who have promised to step up patrols.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

Message posted 29th May 2020

Dear constituent
 
I am writing with some further information about the coronavirus crisis. Some of you may be receiving one of these updates from me for the first time. I have been circulating them as widely as possible during the last few weeks. If you do not want to receive them, please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom.

Firstly, you may be aware that the new NHS track and trace system has been introduced this week. This is designed to allow the NHS to contain the virus while the lockdown is eased off in the coming days.

The explanation of how it works is here

 

You will also be aware that a number of changes are coming to the way things work starting on Monday. These include some children returning to school and allowing small groups of up to six people to meet outside.

For those who have raised the issue of dentistry with me, local dentists will be able to start working again on the 8th of June.

More details are here

 

The full guidance will appear shortly and can be found here

 

I have been asked what all of this means for people over the age of 70. In fact there has never been an instruction for people over the age of 70 to isolate, though if you are of this age you should take extra care. But the new rules will apply to people of all ages, who will be free to meet a small group of friends and family outside, unless they remain instructed by the NHS to shield themselves because of a serious health condition. I know this latter point is very frustrating for those affected, and I hope it will be possible to change the guidance shortly. But it is thought to protect those most at risk from the virus.

For anyone in need of help via the County helpline this weekend, the opening hours have changed and it will be open from 10am-12pm. The weekday opening between 8am and 6pm remain unchanged.

The number to call is 0300 200 1008

A number of you have contacted me about garden waste collections in Reigate and Banstead. I have spoken to the Council but I am afraid that they do not expect to be able to start the regular collections before July because of staffing issues. I will let you know if I hear that this has changed.
 
However the Surrey recycling centres are already open for garden waste. They will also reopen on Monday for more materials, including wood, scrap metal, small electronics and white goods. The full list of what can be taken will be available from 1 June at surreycc.gov.uk/recycling

I have also had questions from you about a couple of other local issues.
 
Firstly, I have been asked what has happened to the consultation process about the future of Epsom Hospital during the crisis. The formal consultation ended in April, and the NHS published the results of the consultation a few days ago. No firm decision has been taken yet, though, and they have a lot of work to do before it can be.
 
I have made clear to the local NHS leadership that I do not think they should move forward until a proper assessment has been done of likely future needs in the context of the pandemic. This includes in my view a reassessment of future bed needs and in particular critical care bed needs. I would expect more to be required. They do accept that this work needs to be done.
 
I will keep you posted.
 
Secondly, I have had some contacts from people in Langley Vale about a return to the old water supply problems during the lockdown. If you live in the area and are experiencing this, please can you let me know as I am pursuing this with Thames Water.
 
Best wishes
 
Chris Grayling

 

Message posted 21st May 2020

Dear constituent

Just another few updates for you on the current situation.
Coronavirus Community Fund

Firstly, for those involved in small local charities, the application process for those needing extra financial support from the Coronavirus Community Fund opens tomorrow. Details can be found here.

Please let me know if you are applying and you need my support. Thank you again to all of those who have been helping local charities during this period., and in particular those who have been providing volunteer and other support for the team at Epsom Hospital, whether it is helping with extra equipment or sending in takeaways.

Parking at Epsom Downs

Secondly, a number of you have raised the issue of car parking on the Downs following my last update. These are the only car parks which have not reopened locally. I have been told that the Downs Conservators are meeting to discuss the issue tomorrow night, and I have asked that the car parks are reopened straight away and in time for most of this weekend.

Community Recycling Centres

Thirdly, the County has now confirmed that it intends to fully open most of the recycling centres from the first of June, which means that you will be able to take other goods there. For the past couple of weeks you have only been allowed to take black bin bags and garden waste.
Local Restaurants

Just a reminder that there is a list of local restaurants which are offering takeaway services during the current crisis on my website, www.chrisgrayling.net. Please let me know if you are doing so and I will add your business to the list. And please do keep using them. It’s great to see the (socially distanced) queues outside many of them.

And please keep socially distancing over this weekend. We do not want a revival of the virus.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message posted 19th May 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the Coronavirus crisis.

Testing

As you may have seen, testing is now to be extended to everyone in the UK over the age of 5 who develops symptoms of the virus. Key workers will still be given priority but if you feel unwell you are now able to get a test – though it will, I suspect, take a few days for the new system to bed in.

If you are unwell and want to be tested, you need to apply via the online portal on the government website. The link is here.

If you do need to be tested, you can ask for a home testing kit which will be sent to you in the post, but to be honest I suspect it is quicker and easier for most people in this area to simply book a test at the local testing centre in the main car park at Chessington World of Adventures. If you go there you will be given a test kit to use in your car, and you will be asked to take a swab from the back of your throat and another from your nose. The swabs are then sealed and sent off to a lab for testing and you will receive the result by email or text within a few days.

As yet there is no date for the introduction of the other tests which tell if you have already had the virus, but I would expect those to start being used next month.

If you do have symptoms and test positive, I would advise you to let your GP practice know.

Working safely during Coronavirus

As Britain gets back to work after the lockdown, you might want to check the guidance for employers and employees about how to handle the current challenges if you are concerned about the way social distancing is being managed in your workplace. The details are here.

Likewise for anyone wanting to know more about the proposal to bring some more pupils back into schools in June, the latest published guidance is here.

No final decision on whether to go ahead with this will be taken until a few days before, when it is clear what is happening to infection rates.

Food boxes

Apologies. When I highlighted the food boxes now available from ASDA, I didn’t realise that the web address they had given me had a typo. The boxes can now be accessed through the main ASDA website.

If you are one of those who are receiving Government food boxes because you are shielding and are worried that they are about to end as the lockdown starts to ease, don’t be concerned. These will be continuing for the time being. I will let you know if I am aware that this will change.
Country car parks

For those of you taking regular exercise, most car parks are now open at local beauty spots and many of the nicest walking areas are still pretty empty – as I have found in recent evenings. So it’s easy to go a little further afield than you have been.

Local charities

In these updates I have been highlighting the work of local charities during the crisis. This time I would like to thank local Rotary Clubs for what they are doing. For example the Epsom Rotary Club has just donated a number of tablet computers for patients at Epsom Hospital so that they can keep in touch with home more easily. Thank you to them and to all the other charities doing important work at this difficult time.


Best wishes
Chris Grayling

Message posted 12th May 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update about the current situation. Many of you will have seen the Prime Minister’s broadcast on Sunday evening, but I thought it might be helpful to share some of the key points of the new rules with you.

Workplace – what we can and can't do

Firstly, when it comes to work, those who can work from home are still being asked to do so, and the list of businesses that are still required to be closed remains unchanged from March – with two exceptions. The aim is that this will start to change in early June if progress against the virus continues.

This is the original list can be found here.

The only changes are that garden centres will be allowed to open from this Wednesday, and some sporting facilities can reopen, but not their clubhouses. But all of these remain subject to specific conditions and you should check the new guidance document for details.

Every other business apart from those listed, and those in the education arena covered by the separate provisions for schools and early years providers, is able to continue operating and should do so if it is at all practical while maintaining social distancing in the workplace. Please also remember that if you are a business that has had to close its premises, you can still do online or telephone-based work.

Social Distancing – what you can and can't do

Secondly, there has been some debate about what you are now allowed to do and not allowed to do outside work.

We know that the virus is most easily transmitted in groups of people, which is why the rules prevent you having gatherings of friends and family in your home. You can be fined if you do this.

But the new rules do allow a little more flexibility than before. You can go further afield for a walk or to have a picnic. You can also meet up with one other person not from your household as long as you keep the two metre distancing rule. You can also now play a small number of sports as long as you do so alone or with members of your own household, or with one other person not from your household. These include golf, tennis and angling.

But things like having your friends round for a barbecue or playing five-a-side football are not yet permitted.

All the details of the new rules are here.

If you have any queries, have a look at the document, and if you can’t get the answer let me know and I will try to get clarification for you. There are some issues still outstanding, like some details on what is now allowed on childcare, and I will provide updates when I get them.

I am expecting a further statement on Tuesday from the Chancellor about support for business and employment.

Surrey County Council country car parks

One thing that will change locally as a result of the new rules from the Government is that local car parks in walking and beauty spots in Surrey will reopen shortly. The County says that they will not be charging for the car parks while the current crisis continues.

Can I be tested?

A reminder that if you are an eligible person and start to experience coronavirus symptoms, you can be tested at the test centre at Chessington World of Adventures. It’s quick and easy, though you have to book in first. To apply for the test click here.

You can apply for a test if you are:
• an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
• aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
• someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can apply if they live with an essential worker, a person aged 65 or over, or someone who travels to work.

You can also apply for a test if you have a clinical referral from NHS 111 online.

Community Recycling Centres

A reminder that the local refuse and recycling centres have now reopened, except some smaller ones elsewhere in the County. But they are only accepting black bin bags and garden waste for the time being. It’s worth checking the relevant website before you go just to check on current status.

Supermarket deliveries for those self-isolating or shielding at home

For anyone who is still having difficulty getting supermarket deliveries I have had this message from ASDA – particularly for anyone who is self-isolating or shielding at home. I hope it proves helpful.

We are launching a food box, which will typically contain 31 store cupboard staples for £30, making it the best value supermarket food box available on the market. It is targeted at vulnerable people who are struggling to get to the supermarket and is easy for volunteers to purchase on their behalf.

Your constituents will be able to buy these on www.foodboxes.asda.com, and have a box delivered directly to their door within two days of placing the order.

The box will contain supplies that have been in high demand including cereal, bread, pasta and tinned fruit and vegetables.

Thank you to our local volunteers

Can I finally thank all of the local volunteers who are helping support the vulnerable at this difficult time. A huge amount of work is being done to help, by charities like Age Concern, the Foodbank and the team of NHS volunteers, and I am very grateful to all of them. But we also owe a debt of gratitude to all of the other volunteers who are keeping other local charities going in tough circumstances.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message posted 7th May 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the current situation.

Firstly, for those in small business locally the Government has announced a further package of grant and rate relief. The initial scheme was targeted particularly at those businesses which have been required to close, such as non-food shops, hair and beauty salons and leisure businesses. However a number of problems have emerged, such as where a business does not pay rates directly but is located within a larger building which does. They have not been eligible for the grant support even though they are in the affected sectors.

The Government has now given local councils extra money and discretion to deal with these kinds of circumstances, or to extend support to businesses that are specifically important for a local area.

Top-up to local business grant funds scheme

You will need to approach Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley or Reigate and Banstead councils to check their decision about your eligibility.

Business Bounceback Loans

If any of you are having problems accessing the Business Bounceback Loans, aimed at small businesses, announced last week by the Government please let me know. These are low cost loans with no interest due in the first twelve months, and allow you to borrow 25% of your annual turnover up to £50,000. In many cases I can nudge the banks into action.

Pro bono help from local business advisors and accountants

I also have two offers of pro bono help from local business advisors and accountants if anyone is struggling with sorting out their business in the current crisis, and could do with some expert advice. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will put you in touch.

Community Recycling Centres

There is good news on the refuse collection front. Surrey County Council has announced that most of the waste sites in the County will reopen next week. There will be a two stage process though; at first they will only accept garden waste and black bin bags. They expect to fully open the sites for all waste within a month, and possibly sooner if there is capacity to do so. However access will be governed by social distancing rules and so in the early days there are likely to be queues. You will also only be allowed one person outside each vehicle at once.

The opening hours for phase one will be;

Chertsey, Earlswood, Epsom, Guildford, Leatherhead, Shepperton, Witley and Woking CRCs: opening hours: 9am-6pm, seven days a week.

Camberley and Farnham CRCs: opening hours: 9am-4pm, seven days a week.

Bagshot, Caterham, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham CRCs: remain closed.

Local Charities

I have been highlighting local charities in need of support if you want to help out in the current situation.

The local branches of Age Concern are doing a fantastic job of helping out vulnerable elderly people during the crisis, organising food deliveries, the collection of prescriptions or just providing a befriending service. Thank you to everyone involved. If you would like to support their work, these are the relevant details.

For Age Concern Epsom and Ewell click here.

For Age Concern Mole Valley click here.

For Age Concern Banstead click here.

Supporting local businesses

My team and I have been talking to local businesses about the current challenges. So that we can all support them and help them through the current crisis, we are starting to build a list of those which are not yet able to open and are doing delivery and click and collect on my website. This already includes a list of cafes and restaurants that have told us that they are doing takeaways, but also now other firms that are working to keep their customers supplied. Please let me know if the business you work for is doing this. I will be putting the details on my website.

NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court

Earlier this week I did my first and only local engagement since March – a socially distanced visit to the opening of the new NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court. It’s a new facility which will treat Coronavirus patients who do not need full critical care. I would like to congratulate the local NHS, military and construction teams who turned buildings that had fallen into disrepair since the old Headley Court closed into a smart, modern clinical facility in less than a month.

Many thanks to all of you who are keeping the social distancing guidelines. Please keep this up over the coming days. It’s really important that we do.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message posted 30th April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update about the current situation.

Firstly, you may have seen that there has been a substantial extension of access to testing if you are suffering from symptoms of the Coronavirus.

Details of those who are eligible and who eligible to apply to be tested are here:

For those of you who are shielding at home and are on the most vulnerable list, there is also updated advice here:

Citizens Advice Bureau Epsom

I have been asked by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Epsom to remind people that they are open and available to provide help to people with financial and other issues during the current crisis.

Details of how to contact them are here.

Access to local cemeteries

Some of you are aware that access to local cemeteries has been limited to funerals only in recent weeks. However the regulations have now been amended to allow mourners also to visit the graves of loved ones. The Epsom cemetery is now going to be open at weekends from 9am to 3pm. It will remain closed during the weeks because funerals are taking place.

Details are on the Borough Council’s website.

and Randalls Road Crematorium , Leatherhead

Local Charities

Epsom and Ewell Foodbank

Thank you to everyone who has supported the fund raising effort for the local foodbank. It has now raised more than £11,000. If you want to contribute the fund raising page is here.

My team and I have also contacted a wide range of other local charities to see how they are coping with the current crisis. If you want to help out financially or otherwise with any of them, here are three more which could use your help.

Home Start

Works with struggling families. Apart from the normal guidance and emotional support that its volunteers provide, it is also collecting food and similar support for those families. They would particularly welcome donations of food, baby milk and nappies. Their contact details are here.

Riding for the Disabled

They have closed down during lockdown. However, the horses still need feeding and the yard still needs care. Any donations would be most welcome. Their contacts are here.

The Meeting Room

They normally run daytime drop-in centres for homeless, socially isolated and vulnerable people living in Mole Valley and Epsom and Ewell. At the moment they are providing packed lunch on Mondays and a hot meal on Fridays for around 90 people in total.

They would welcome any donations and would be particularly grateful for donations of face masks. Their contact details are here.

Finally a reminder about social distancing. The latest figures on deaths in the NHS and Care Homes are a stark reminder about how horrible and dangerous this virus is. We have spoken to most of our local care homes and they seem to have escaped the worst of things so far. But that makes it all the more important that we stick to the rules and do everything we can to avoid the virus starting to spread even more. The guidance on what to do is here.

Thank you to everyone who is doing their best to follow the rules and also to those who are working to keep things going locally.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message Posted 23rd April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with further updates on the coronavirus crisis.

Firstly I want to say a big thank you to all of you who work in the NHS locally and in the social care sector – as well as those who are working to keep local services going. I am very grateful to all of you.

A message from the local ambulance service. They are operating as normal, and want to get across to local people that you should not be reluctant to call an ambulance if you think there is a need. They are coping fine with the current pressures and do not want people to end up in a worse condition because they have not initially called for help.

I have been helping a number of local residents who are shielding at home with deliveries from the supermarkets. Please let me know if you are on the highly vulnerable list and are having difficulties. Also, if you not on a vulnerable list and are using delivery services but are able to go to the shops yourself, then please do so. By giving up your delivery slot you are helping someone who is not able to leave their home.

If you do find yourselves in difficulties though, please call either the Surrey County Council helpline or one of the local branches of Age Concern if you are of pensionable age. There is a large team of volunteers waiting to help with shopping or other tasks.

The contact numbers are:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell – 01372 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley – 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council helpline – 0300 200 1008

Surrey County Council are warning that there has been a rise in the number of scams during the current crisis.

They say that fraudsters have been buying fake NHS and care provider lanyards so they can attempt to enter the homes of vulnerable people. The advice is never let anyone you’re not expecting or don’t recognise into your home – check first with the caller’s employer either by ringing a number in a phone book or website, or from any existing paperwork. If there’s any doubt, then don’t let them in. Please take care.

Other scams which have been reported include:-
Automated calls (sometimes from a spoofed local number) telling you that the Government insists you buy a facemask
Sales of miracle cures for coronavirus and fake facemasks
Fake charity collectors
Fake healthcare workers offering home testing kits
HMRC phishing emails and texts that offer a tax refund to help people protect their finances
Thieves offering to shop for the elderly and vulnerable and keeping the money

It’s more important than ever for residents to remember advice from trading standards to protect themselves from fraud. Key advice is:
Be sceptical, don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door
Take your time, don’t be rushed
If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as gov.uk or NHS.uk
Know who you’re dealing with; if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with trading standards on the numbers below
Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Do NOT give your bank card or PIN to a stranger

If you think you have been scammed, call the police on 101 (999 in an emergency). To report a scam, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01296 388788.

For those of you who are normally users of the local libraries, you may not be aware that Surrey is running a substantial online library service during the current lockdown. Details are at https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/libraries

Thank you to everyone who has supported the fund raising appeal for the foodbank. So far it has raised around £10,000. If you want to contribute, the link is here:

Epsom and Ewell Foodbank - Covid19 Crisis Appeal

My team and I are talking to other local charities about their needs, and next week I will publish a list of those who would welcome additional support for anyone locally who wants to help.

Finally thank you to everyone who is continuing to obey social distancing rules. I hope that the current restraints will start to be eased before too long, in particular to get local shops and businesses working again. But I think we will need to continue to take great care for some considerable while to come.

All good wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message Posted 16th April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with some further updates about the Coronavirus crisis.

Most importantly, for those who have found themselves missing out on the employment support scheme because they were not on the payroll on the 28th February, the Government has just announced that the date will be moved forward to the 19th March. This will help those who were between jobs on the 28th and means that new employers will be able to furlough them as well.

Here are the details which I hope will be helpful.

Click here for details of the Government Furlough scheme

Use of paper lanterns in honour of the NHS staff

You may have seen that there is a suggestion that people should buy and release sky lanterns in honour of the work being done by our NHS staff. Please do not do this. There are many ways to celebrate the extraordinary work being done by our local and national NHS teams but this is not one of them. These lanterns are a fire hazard, particularly in dry weather, and are more likely to add to pressure on the emergency services.

Some people have contacted me about how they can best make a donation to help those in difficulties locally. I am supporting the local foodbank, which is doing a very good job helping people who are struggling. If you want to make a donation then please do so via this link.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

Epsom and Ewell Foodbank - Covid19 Crisis Appeal

 

Message Posted 10th April 2020

Dear constituent

First of all, thank you to everyone who has been following the Government rules on social distancing carefully over the last couple of weeks. This is really important to protect our local NHS team. Please make sure that you stick to the rules this weekend.

A reminder of the rules is here

I was sent this very good prompt by a constituent a couple of days ago which I thought I would circulate. Please do share with your email and social media networks.

Covid Advice

I know it is tough for many people, particularly those who live alone, but it will help us get through this quicker.
Those of you who work locally in the charity sector will have seen that the Government announced yesterday a package of support for charities that are struggling to survive.

The details of how this will work to support smaller charities are still being worked out, but it would be helpful to me to know if you are involved in a local charity that is facing financial problems so I can see how I can support you in getting access to some of this assistance.

The Government has also published updates for trustees and charities here

There has been some coverage in the last few days about coronavirus and pets. There is now some official advice on this which I have linked to here

For those who are not aware, you do not have to get your car MoT’d in the current situation. Current certificates have been extended for 6 months. Details are here
Finally, one of the things I didn’t make clear in my last update is that you are allowed to go out to help a vulnerable person. So please can you take the time to tap on the door of an elderly neighbour this weekend just to make sure that they have everything they need.

Please maintain your social distance while you do so, but I want to make sure that there is no one who falls through the cracks because they do not have access to online information. If you find anyone who is struggling, please let me know and I will alert Age Concern to go and help them.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

Message Posted 8th April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing with a further update about the coronavirus crisis.

Some people have been in touch with me and are still uncertain about the recommendations about people who are vulnerable in the current crisis.

Most of us are being instructed to maintain social distancing guidance and also to stay at home if we or any member of our family have symptoms. The only people who are currently being asked to shield themselves absolutely for 12 weeks are listed in this guidance.

Thank you to all the people locally who maintained the social distancing rules over the weekend. This remains very important for all of us. I hope that we can start to lift these rules before too long, but we need to see the virus peak and start to decline before changes can be considered.

Please remember that you are only allowed to leave your home for food shopping, for health reasons (including a medical appointment or to collect a prescription, or for one piece of daily exercise) or work if you cannot work from home. If you go out, stay 2 metres, or 6 feet, away from other people at all times, and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

You are not allowed to leave home for any other reason. It is particularly important that these rules are stuck to over the Easter weekend. The police have the power to prosecute you if they find the rules being broken. But more importantly, it is essential to stop the spread of infection locally and to avoid putting extra pressure on the fantastic team at Epsom Hospital.

Support for people who are forced to stay at home

I have had several questions about the support available for shopping for people who are forced to stay at home.

If you are one of the people on the Government’s list of those who have to shield at home for 12 weeks, then you should automatically receive a food box delivered by the Government. This is coming from a specially set-up hub in Guildford.

In addition, your details are being passed to the supermarkets so you can be identified as a priority for home delivery. If you have been added to the list using the special link here and your GP has confirmed that you should be on the list, but you find that you are not being given access to home delivery, please let me know and I will contact the supermarkets on your behalf.

If you are of pensionable age and do not come under the list of those being told to shield themselves, you are still able to go to do a food shop, but are being asked to be particularly rigorous about maintaining a 2m distance from other people.

But if you are feeling unwell, or have another reason to need to stay at home, then the first port of call for those of pensionable age should be one of the local branches of Age Concern. Please don’t be worried about calling them. They have teams of volunteers doing work to help, including shopping and collecting prescriptions.

Important telephone numbers

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

For everyone else worried about getting shopping done, or needing other support, please call the Surrey County Council helpline on 0300 200 1008.

And my apologies that my last update had a typing error on the number for Surrey County Council. They will steer you to a local community group, or to one of the support hubs that have been set up by the Borough and District Councils.

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website here for community support for more information.

Garden Centres

A few people have contacted me about the situation with local garden centres. Some are able to remain open because of the mix of things that they sell, but visiting a garden centre would not count as essential travel under the current rules. Please take advantage of the online and telephone service combined with home delivery that many of our local garden centres have put in place.

Business Support

For businesses in need of help, click here


Applications are now open for the grant support for leisure and retail businesses that have been asked to close. All the overall information about the schemes are at www.businesssupport.gov.uk, but details of how to apply locally for the grants are found via the relevant Borough and District Council websites in Epsom and Ewell, Reigate and Banstead and Mole Valley.

Bonfires

Finally, a number of people who suffer from Asthma and similar have approached me about the number of bonfires being lit locally, particularly as many green waste collections have stopped. Please can I ask you to think carefully about lighting up and about the impact the smoke and ash may have on your neighbours. Better not to burn if possible and store the waste in the corner of your garden if you can until green waste collections or the local dumps can restart. The waste can then be turned into biofuels which will help the environment.

I will keep you posted about any further information that becomes available.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message Posted 27th March 2020

I am writing with a further update about the Coronavirus crisis. Many of you will be aware that the Chancellor has just announced a new support package for the self-employed. I have attached a detailed explanation of how the scheme will work, which I hope will be helpful to those affected. The scheme will be backdated to the 1st of March, though as you will see, it will take a few weeks to set up. So those eligible will get money that covers this month and the scheme will last for at least three months.

I also want to draw the attention of those of you who are over 70 to the guidance about movement and staying at home. I think there has been a little confusion over this. If you are one of the 1.5 million people who have been contacted by the NHS and require shielding you should stay at home and not see anyone else face to face for the next three months. These are the guidelines for you.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

But if you are over 70 and healthy, you should take very great care but otherwise the general guidelines apply to you.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

All of the rest of the guidance for people about what is happening is here.

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

I know many of you are still struggling with getting home deliveries of shopping as you are worried about going to the supermarkets. I have been round all of our major stores locally and they are all now managing access carefully to protect shoppers and staff.

I have spoken to them about improving the situation for those who are self-isolating and trying to get those who need it access to home delivery. They are trying to register more vulnerable people, but the home delivery services are clearly swamped with applications and so for those who are self-isolating and are struggling with getting shopping done, please either call the local branches of Age Concern…..

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732455 or 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

….or the Surrey County Council Helpline 0300 200 1008
There are volunteers available to help you with shopping if you cannot go out yourselves.

Please let me know if you have any problems accessing this support.

Finally I am putting up all the information I get on my website www.chrisgrayling.net.

I have also started to collect a list on my website of local restaurants, pubs and cafes which contact me to say they are switching to do takeaways. Please let me know of any which should be included. Please do support these local businesses which are suffering as a result of the virus and of the closures ordered by the Government.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 24th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with the latest information about the measures that the Government is introducing to tackle the Coronavirus crisis.

Firstly, the detail on the announcements restricting movement outside your home. The guidance notes published by the Government are here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874714/Full_guidance_on_staying_at_home_and_away_from_others.pdf

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

There will undoubtedly be many questions about this and if you contact me, I will do my best to answer them for you. But the simple summary is that if you don’t have to do it, then don’t. Stay at home unless you really must leave for work or another very important reason, like buying food or going to a medical appointment. And please do not meet your friends, either out or in any of your homes. Talk electronically instead.

For those wondering why these measures are necessary, I was sent this letter yesterday by a leading doctor in South London.

I wanted to send you an open letter to be passed on to as many people as possible. I am writing as a doctor in a front-line hospital battling the greatest challenge in the history of modern healthcare.

I am writing on behalf of my colleagues in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Units of hospitals nationwide. Many hospitals are just days away from being overwhelmed.

We are pleading with everyone at risk to isolate at home, and everyone else to keep as far distance as possible from others if they are not able to isolate. We have got to break the chain of transmission. By taking this responsibility, every person who does this will be responsible for saving lives. The patients dying today got infected two weeks ago or more. By taking a decision to isolate today and to distance yourself from today, you will be saving lives which will otherwise be lost in two weeks. Please do this today, without any further delay.

You may think the majority of the population are heeding Government advice - but the truth is that many are not, and lives are going to be lost as a consequence.
Doctors, Nurses and all health professionals will stay at work, but we need you to stay at home. Thank you.

Professor Stephen J.D. Brecker, Chief of Cardiology, St. George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I know that this will be very unsettling for many people, particularly the elderly. I think that the dedicated time for them to go food shopping now seems to have settled down and stocks are reasonable – so people do not need to worry unduly about being able to obtain food. But if you have been advised to stay at home even for food shopping, and many elderly people have already been, and you do not already have help, then please contact one of the following helplines which will be able to help you sort out getting shopping collected for you.

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456
Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104
Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council has set up a help line for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008.

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website for community support for more information.
https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

I have two further pieces of information for those of you with businesses:

Firstly, some of you may wish to know that the British Business Bank has launched the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Further detail on how to apply is set out in the link below:
https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

Secondly, the Government has established a new website with the full range of advice for businesses. You can find it at https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/

I hope to have more information about support for the self-employed this week.

Finally, many local restaurants which are not able to open at the moment are doing takeaways and can deliver to your home. If you are running one of these restaurants, please let me know your contact details and I will publicise a list of those which can deliver in one of these bulletins.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 21st March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a couple of further updates.

I am attaching below the text of a letter from the Chancellor outlining the measures to help protect jobs which he announced last night. I know that there remains considerable concern among the self-employed, and I am assured that the Treasury is looking at further measures to help the self-employed. I will keep you posted.

I am also including below that a note that I have received from the Chief Executive of Sainsburys this morning. I hope this provides some clarity about how they are planning to handle things next week. I would urge everyone to respect these special arrangements. In particular we need to ensure that the elderly and workers in the NHS are able to get their shopping done in a safe environment. And please remember also to support our smaller, local shops.

A reminder of the contact details if you need help locally:

For the elderly:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council’s helpline for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website for community support for more information.

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

If you want to volunteer to help one of the local charity services, here’s who you need to get in touch with:

In Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley, contact Central Surrey Voluntary Action on 01372 722911

In Reigate and Banstead, contact Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead on 01737 763156

Please get a takeaway from one of our local restaurants this evening if you can. We need to help support them at this difficult time. And please, though I know it is difficult, do your best to follow the Government’s guidance on what to do during the current crisis. This is really important in reducing the risk to those who are most vulnerable in our society. The latest guidance is at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Some of you may be getting one of these updates for the first time. If you do not want to be on the mailing list, please unsubscribe using the link below.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 20th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with further advice about the support that is available locally if you are in difficulties in the coming weeks. I am trying to cover as many bases as possible, but please do get in touch with me with individual queries and issues. I know that this is going to be very tough for many people, and I will not be able, and nor will the government, to solve every problem. But we are all doing our best.

Firstly, with regard to the overall picture. I know that many people are very scared about losing their jobs or the future of their businesses. I have already sent the most recent information about Government support for business, but I have also been assured by the Treasury that they are working as fast as they can on further measures to try to protect jobs. I will keep you updated as soon as I can.

I know there are many other issues facing local businesses and I am getting a number of worried emails. I will respond to all those issues individually and provide updates when I can. There is a business support Government hotline which is 0300 456 3565, though I know it is very busy. If you are in danger of losing your job, or may end up without income for a period, there is also a Universal Credit hotline on 0800 328 5644.

The breakdown of all the financial support currently available for individuals and business can be found here.

Many of you are very concerned about the availability of food and essential products in the shops. I have heard some disturbing tales of the scenes in the supermarkets in the past twenty-four hours and have been round to see the situation today. This period will require everyone to be restrained. There is no overall shortage of food in the area and the supermarkets are clear that they will continue to stock up as fast as they can. But don’t forget your local corner shops as well, or the local specialists, many of which do seem to have remained reasonably well-stocked.

I have contacted the local supermarkets again and urged them to police more carefully the time set aside for the elderly, as other people do seem to be trying to shop at the same time.

There are now a number of support services for the vulnerable locally. If you are elderly and struggling to get food, or you have another problem, please contact the local branches of Age Concern. The numbers are as follows:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council has set up a help line for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website for community support for more information.

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

If you want to volunteer to help one of the local charity services, here’s who you need to get in touch with:

In Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley, contact Central Surrey Voluntary Action on 01372 722911

In Reigate and Banstead, contact Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead on 01737 763156

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to be a helper through Community Coronavirus Care. They have gathered valuable information about potential volunteers and are now working with Central Surrey Voluntary Action to sort out how to provide that support to the front line organisations working with the elderly and the vulnerable.

Please do also look out for your neighbours and point anyone who needs help towards one of these services.

Finally, can I stress again how important it is to support smaller local businesses at this difficult time. If you can, please do order a takeaway from a local restaurant this weekend if you might otherwise have gone there for a meal instead. Or find another local business you can support. We need them to be still there when all this is over.

Please could you pass this message to your friends and contacts and ask them in turn to make sure that anyone they know who might need supporting in the days ahead knows where to turn.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 19th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to give you some further updates about the Coronavirus crisis. I know that this is an extraordinarily difficult time for many people.

Firstly the latest information from the NHS can be found at:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

For those of you with businesses or self-employed, you may have seen that the Government has offered a big package of support to business. It has also promised additional support if needed. Details of what is available and how to ask questions about it can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

I will circulate any further information I receive about the suspension of schools at the end of the week once I have it. I am also expecting an announcement about people who rent their homes later this week.

Many people have contacted me to express concern about the lack of key goods in supermarkets. I last spoke to the local supermarkets a few days ago and they assured me then that they are not suffering from shortages in the supply chain. The issue is the level of bulk buying. For those of you who are concerned about this, Sainsburys and Asda have introduced restrictions on the quantity of an individual item you can buy. Sainsburys are also introducing dedicated shopping time for the older generation. I will talk to retailers again in the next couple of days.

But can I also urge people locally to buy from small shops too, who are really feeling the pinch. The same applies to helping out local restaurants. Whilst the new recommendations from the Government ask us not to go to pubs and restaurants for a few weeks, that does not stop us getting takeaways from those that offer that service – and the Government intends to make it easier for them to do so with a change to the licensing rules in the very near future. I would encourage everyone to do anything you can in the current situation to help smaller local businesses.

I know that this is a particularly unsettling time for those over the age of 70 and for those who are unwell, or have had to self-isolate. Whilst many have family and friends who can rally round, I know that not everyone does. A considerable amount of work is being done right now by local charities, the Councils and the different volunteer groups that have emerged in recent days to ensure that they can provide everyone with the support they need, and also to make the best use of the people who have offered help. Please make your neighbours your first port of call to make sure that they are OK. But those involved will send round more details later in the week of how to help, and what to do if you need help.

Finally a big thank you to all of you who work in the NHS. This is an incredibly difficult time for the NHS and I am very grateful to you.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

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