The Potters ’Arf marathon has been cancelled as civic leaders urge residents to follow social distancing health advice, in response to the coronavirus.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has taken the step to call off the road race in consultation with Hanley Economic Building Society, race sponsors and charities as part of a managed and proportionate response to the outbreak. Around 850 people had already signed up to take part in the city’s biggest annual running race on 14 June, and they will be contacted and reimbursed their registration fee.
The announcement comes as the council has suspended membership fees for its gyms across the city after they closed on Friday night (20 March), following national guidance.
In making the announcements council leader Abi Brown has emphasised the importance of people following Public Health England advice on physical distancing.
She said: “The decision to cancel the Potters ’Arf has been taken to protect the health and wellbeing of walkers and runners, officials, volunteers and spectators, and to alleviate the risk of an additional burden on the emergency services at what is a hugely testing time.
“We don’t take this decision lightly; we are working through what is the biggest health challenge of a generation. It is vitally important that people follow latest public health advice.
“The weather may be nice, people may be at home and schools may not be open, but this is not a bank holiday. Do not treat it as such. Everyone needs to practice physical distancing. People should ensure they keep a distance of two metres between themselves and other people at all times. We should all be doing all we can to reduce our social interactions to limit the transmission of the coronavirus.”
The council has also produced a range of information covering rent and financial advice for tenants who cannot work. If residents cannot work because they have the coronavirus or are self-isolating they may be eligible for statutory sick pay. This is paid from day one, rather than the fourth day of illness. People on a zero hours contract may be entitled to sick pay.
If residents' income has reduced while they are off work sick, they might be able to claim benefits or help towards rent. They should first check to see if they are eligible for Universal Credit.
If residents cannot work and they are not eligible for statutory sick pay, there is more advice available about applying for Universal Credit and/or new style Employment and Support Allowance. Residents could also be eligible for council tax support. More details can be found on the council’s website, www.stoke.gov.uk.
The government has announced an emergency rescue package for business following the coronavirus restrictions. The council will be administering two elements of the rescue package – changes to business rate relief and grant support.
As a result, bills will be re-issued excluding the business rate charge as soon as possible. In the meantime, rates will not be taken by direct debit from any business that had already qualified for the business rates retail discount as shown on their original rates bills or where more businesses have been identified under the revised scheme. All businesses that pay by a different method, such as online or by cash, that have also already qualified for the discount are advised that they do not need to pay their business rates bills this coming financial year.
If businesses do not receive their amended bill by 8 May 2020, they should contact the council to apply for the discount by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01782 238274. If businesses are having issues paying their business rates because of COVID-19, they should contact the council using those details as soon as possible. All businesses that receive small business rates relief – regardless of sector – will be eligible for a cash payment of £10,000, an increase on the £3,000 announcement set out in the Chancellor’s budget earlier this month. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with rateable values of less than £51,000 will also receive a cash grant of £25,000. Further government guidance is being sought on how the payments will be administered.
Residents are being encouraged to get behind a new community support scheme which launched today (Monday) to help meet the everyday needs of vulnerable people affected by the coronavirus.
#StokeonTrentTogether has been formed by the council and voluntary sector organisation VAST and will specifically help those who are self-isolating and who do not have the support of friends or family to call upon.
Residents are being asked to get in contact if either they need support or are able to offer support to members of the community who are self-isolating or vulnerable – such as elderly residents and residents who need some extra help and are not already accessing medical or agreed care packages.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “As a local authority, we are doing everything we can to support people, but we recognise we are unable to respond to all the needs of the community alone at this time. We are pleased to be working with VAST as part of our response to coronavirus to ensure we are all looking out for one another.”
Residents can access the website via www.corona19.vast.org.uk, or call 0800 5615610 Monday – Friday 9am-5pm.
For all media enquiries please contact Andrew Brunt in the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.
Want to receive press releases, council news or job vacancies by email? Sign up for our online alerts at www.stoke.gov.uk/stayconnected.