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Playgrounds reopen across the city, businesses praised for opening weekend and final chance to apply for grant fund

Published: Thursday, 9th July 2020

Playgrounds across Stoke-on-Trent have reopened following national Government changes to lockdown measures in England.

This means 94 city council sites are now available in the city, with rules in place which families must follow. These are:

  • Maintain social distancing and avoid gathering in groups;
  • Wash or sanitise your hands frequently;
  • Clean the play equipment before and after use;
  • Use the bins provided, or take your rubbish home with you;
  • Do not eat food on the play equipment.

In line with national government guidance, play areas had been closed to the public during the pandemic. Last month the Government announced several changes to lockdown measures in England, with some facilities allowed to reopen including outdoor playgrounds from July 4.

Signs have now been placed at all of the council’s play areas across Stoke-on-Trent to remind families to follow the rules. All equipment is used at the person’s own risk. Council staff will be doing checks of facilities but if residents spot anything like signage that has been ripped down, they should let the council know as soon as possible.

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of the city council, said: “It’s important we all continue to be cautious as the lockdown gradually eases. The lifting of measures will be very positive news for a lot of residents but it’s vital we remember the pandemic has not gone away, it is still amongst us, and people must continue to observe social distancing where possible.

“Playgrounds can now be used at the user’s own risk. We’re asking people to clean the equipment before and after use, and to bring hand sanitiser and use this frequently. If a site is busy and it is not possible to practice social distancing, please think about coming back at another time when it is less crowded. It’s really important people follow the rules in place which is the most responsible course of action to take to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Meanwhile, the city council is thanking the vast majority of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers in the city for following government guidelines after they were allowed to reopen at the weekend. Public protection teams, including environmental health and trading standards officers, have been in close contact with the businesses, and the national advice is generally being followed.

Cllr Brown added: “We want to thank businesses for working with us, being responsible and putting the correct measures in place. We had very few issues at the weekend and it was good to see businesses reopening after a very difficult period for everyone. I’d like to remind businesses that it is their responsibility to put in the correct safety measures for keeping staff and customers as safe as possible.

“Our trading standards teams have done a fantastic job helping out businesses with guidance and advice throughout the pandemic and they are continuing to do this. More than ever it’s best to be on the safe side, so if you’re a business and are unsure about anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.

“Businesses that are unsure about to how to comply with the guidance can email public.protection@stoke.gov.uk and our teams will work with them so they can operate in a safe manner. Also if members of the public spot anything and want to report it, then please get in touch and we can follow it up.”

The discretionary grants fund, which closes on Thursday, (July 9) is still open for the second round of applications with a share of £1.5 million available. The council is encouraging small businesses in the city, that have been affected by Covid-19 to apply for the grant if they previously missed out on the Small Business Grant scheme as their rateable value exceeds £15,000 and they did not meet the eligibility for the Extended Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant.

Those that could benefit include small and micro businesses that have high ongoing fixed property costs, can demonstrate they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis. Businesses can apply online.

Apply online

Finally, the council is urging residents not to lose their voice on decisions that affect them by making sure their electoral registration details are up to date. The annual canvass has now started and ensures that the city council can keep the electoral register up to date, identifying any residents who are not registered so that they can be encouraged to do so.

This year’s canvass, which we have to carry out by law, is taking place during a challenging public health situation. We are working to ensure that we take account of public health guidelines, including the continued importance of social distancing.

If anyone is not registered, their name will not appear in the messages we send. If someone wants to register, the easiest way is online, or we’ll send information explaining how to do this in the post.

People who have moved recently are particularly encouraged to look out for the voter registration messages from the council and check the details.

For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987.