RICHMOND PARK CLOSED TO CYCLISTS FROM TOMORROW, SATURDAY MARCH 28
Sadly, the meticulous efforts by so many residents to abide by social distancing rules have not been enough to keep Richmond Park a safe environment. Royal Parks announced today with regret that they are temporarily suspending cycling in Richmond Park from tomorrow. They say this is due to bottlenecks at the park entrances and cyclists not observing the two-metre distancing requirements.
Royal Parks do not have enough staff to manage the entrances and monitor compliance in the park, so they are banning cycling to try to enable people to continue to use the park on foot safely. They have said that children will still be able to cycle in the park, and they will provide more details on that soon. You can follow them on Twitter at @theroyalparks for up to the minute information.
RUNNERS AND CYCLISTS
I am getting a lot of calls from residents who feel they are put at risk by cyclists and runners who pass them at close range. Please remember that the two metre rule applies to you too, and don’t pass close to other people using the parks and pavements.
With the roads nearly empty, cyclists should be able to stay well away from the pavements, and both runners and walkers will have the option of stepping off the pavement to let someone pass. (Obviously check the road visually before stepping into it!)
I have heard that this is a particular problem on Hammersmith Bridge. Please be patient and mindful when using the bridge and don’t pass close to other users. TfL are looking at the possibility of opening the central span of the bridge to cycle traffic to alleviate the crowding.
Age UK have written to say they are continually updating their website to ensure information and advice is available to older people, their families and people in the community wanting to help their neighbours. Find their information here: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/coronavirus/ . Their latest advice includes information on how to avoid scams, and how to deal with an abusive partner, former partner or family member: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/coronavirus/staying-safe-and-well-at-home/staying-safe/
The BBC has launched specific programming to help audiences understand the issues, including ‘Coronavirus: Your Essential Update’ on last night at 7.30pm on BBC One, the daily edition of the Coronavirus podcast, Make A Difference on every local radio station (which joins up local volunteer groups to help co-ordinate support for the elderly, housebound or at risk,) and dedicated Newsround bulletins for children on air throughout the day on CBBC. They have also moved Question Time to 8pm on Thursdays.
EBAY OFFER TO SMALL BUSINESSES
New UK business sellers registering on eBay.co.uk from 26 March 2020 will not have to pay fees to list or sell for the next two months. This will automatically apply to the first 250 listings per calendar month until 31 May 2020. This initiative was designed to support small, local shops in converting their business to online sales.
HSBC SUPPORT FOR PERSONAL CUSTOMERS
HSBC has written to let me know that they will reduce or defer mortgage payments, temporarily increase credit card and overdraft limits, and allow early access to fixed-rate savings accounts without charges. They have passed on the base rate cut to variable rate mortgage customers. They are also introducing a temporary £300 interest-free buffer on overdrafts for a period of three months.
SANTANDER SUPPORT FOR PERSONAL CUSTOMERS
Over the past two weeks, we have introduced a series of measures to support customers, including those who are worried about their finances in light of the ongoing situation:
• Mortgage payment holidays of up to three months
• Increased overdrafts or credit card limits may be available to customers
• Customers can access money held in fixed rate bonds and fixed rate ISAs before the end of the fixed term, free of charge
• Contactless payments: From 1 April, in coordination with other banks and the retail industry, we will increase the maximum payment for a contactless card from £30 to £45
• Hold on repossessions: We have suspended all possession orders for three months.
RETIRED SOCIAL WORKERS
Retired social workers are being urged by Richmond Council to return to work and help support Richmond residents through the coronavirus pandemic.
Richmond Council is making provisions to offer 7-day-week services, from 8am-8pm, to cope with the increased demand anticipated over the coming months. A local campaign has been launched to recruit out-of-work social workers and invite those who have recently retired to temporarily return to work to help with the effort.
It was wonderful to hear all the cheering and clapping for our NHS workers in the streets last night. Hopefully they know that we are grateful to them all the time and not just last night. But our social work force is also working flat out right now to support their clients through this hard time, and I would like to give them a special thanks today. Please know that if you are a retired social worker or social caregiver and your are returning to work to help vulnerable people through this crisis, your work will be appreciated and recognised too.