Local centres close, concessionary bus fares extended and residents reminded of other ways to use council services

Published: Friday, 20th March 2020

Residents are being reminded of a range of different ways to use council services as local centres in eight locations close today (Friday) as part of a continued managed response to Covid-19.

Residents are being reminded of a range of different ways to continue to use council services as local centres in eight locations close today (Friday) as part of a continued managed response to Covid-19.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has announced the following local centres will close:
•    Stoke Local Service Centre (the one-stop shop facility and library)
•    Tunstall Local Centre (which currently operates out of the children’s centre)
•    Bentilee District Centre (the neighbourhood centre and library)
•    Abbey Hulton Local Centre
•    Blurton Local Centre
•    Burslem Local Centre
•    Chell Health Local Centre
•    Longton Local Centre
•    Meir Local Centre (in the library) 
•    Norton Local Centre 

Residents can continue to access a wide range of services that they would use in local centres by visiting www.stoke.gov.uk or by using the free MyStoke App. This includes making payments, informing the council of changes in circumstances, uploading information to provide proof of documents and making an application for council housing. Residents can also make payments at shops across the city that have PayPoint facilities.

Following an announcement by the Prime Minister on Friday evening (20 March), remaining gyms that were open at Fenton Manor Sports Complex and Dimensions Leisure Centre are closing on Friday night.

From Monday (23 March), the council has made arrangements with local bus operators that the time constriction on concessionary travel is lifted. This means that anyone with a valid pass will be able to travel for free at any time of the day, including before the usual 9.30am start time, when boarding any bus in Stoke-on-Trent.

From Monday (23 March), the way weddings, funerals and citizenship ceremonies at council buildings will also change. Civil ceremonies will be conducted by one registrar, one registering registrar, the couple and two witnesses of their choice. Ceremonies can only take place in the venue that the legal notice has been given for, therefore if the chosen venue is closed, the ceremony can not go ahead as planned. Ceremonies scheduled to take place at Hanley Town Hall will continue with those restrictions. Ceremonies can also be rescheduled should couples prefer to do so, and this can be accommodated subject to availability. Council teams are in the process of contacting everyone with a ceremony booking to discuss the options in their particular circumstances. 

In the interests of keeping visitors and staff safe, the number of mourners attending either cremation or burial funeral services is restricted to 10. This will be done in a sensitive way in accordance with the guidance from government that social gatherings in a restricted place should be avoided. Video streaming is available at Carmountside Cemetery and Crematorium to enable the service to be viewed on portable devices. Details of this service are available from funeral directors or www.stoke.gov.uk. Families may wish to consider holding a memorial service in the future at the Crematorium Chapel.

Single person face-to-face citizenship ceremonies with the High Sheriff will continue to take place with no more than two-to-three people waiting, spaced two metres apart. 

A number of council children’s centres, leisure centres and community buildings closed earlier this week, along with museums, libraries and public conveniences.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “We are continuing to work very carefully through council services to ensure our response to the coronavirus is managed and proportionate. Our utmost concerns are for the health and safety of residents and our staff, the vast majority of whom are resident in the city and are working hard to ensure we can still deliver services that local people rely on.

“We have to prioritise our work to support our vulnerable children, young people and older people. We are working hard to ensure contingencies are in place to enable us to do this. For example, we have around 3,500 people in the city in receipt of home care through services that we run or commission. We have 130 staff who directly provide care and staff who are responsible for ensuring that care packages delivered by our commissioned services are delivered.

“I am really clear that we will continue to do all we can to ensure our efforts are focused on supporting those people who need our help the most.

“I encourage people to use council services through digital channels where possible – a wide range of services that are available through local centres are available through our website.”

For more information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit Public Health England: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ 
and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The importance of this action cannot be underestimated.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.