25 Nov Norman’s Notes November 2021
Mims Davies MP host’s a ‘Bounce Back Business’ Breakfast
Our MP, Mims Davies, thought it a great idea to organise an event to allow Mid Sussex businesses to share their experiences over the past 18 months.
EGBA was represented at this breakfast event by Lee Farren, Kate Bennett, Cllr John Belsey and myself, along with a number of local businesspeople.
Mims Davies says, “I recognise how difficult the pandemic has been for local businesses and I really wanted a breakfast where local business owners could share, enjoy and work together. It was a fantastic morning and I look forward to hosting more in the future.”
During the breakfast a guest speaker from the industrial sector, based in Burgess Hill, and a speaker from Haywards Heath’s property market, provided guests with an insight into the challenges they faced during the pandemic and how they used innovative methods to overcome the difficulties.
We very much hope to have a similar breakfast event in East Grinstead early in 2022.
£300K boost from Safety of “Women at Night Fund”
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, has secured nearly £300k from the Safety of Women at Night Fund. This builds on the £1m received a month ago from the Safer Streets Fund, to tackle violence and abuse against women and girls (VAWG).
Sussex Police will be working with over 80 businesses – including some of the largest nighttime venues and transport hubs – to help their staff identify, prevent, and respond to sexual violence and map safe places and travel options, for women and girls. This includes a trained taxi marshal scheme in Brighton, the busiest nighttime economy in Sussex.
A large proportion of the funding will support high visibility police patrols at night, in specially VAWG branded cars. As well as providing reassurance and a deterring presence, the officers will be there to offer advice and signposting to other support services.
Dedicated Business Crime Team launched
Sussex Police recently launched a dedicated Business Crime Team. This is only the third of its kind in the country.
The new unit will help investigate crimes through specialist knowledge, innovative technology and closer co-operation with businesses.
Very sadly, as Gareth Lewis from the Southern Co-op said at the launch, “shopworkers and security staff have been abused, threatened, and assaulted and are afraid to come to work”. This has to stop.
As Katy Bourne says, “Business managers and owners have been saying we need to identify prolific offenders and get them off our high streets, to create a safer environment both for shoppers and retail workers. According to the Association of Convenience Stores, last year 89% of shop staff were abused and there were 1.1m thefts from stores at an average cost of £1360. Our Safer Sussex Business Partnership is a great example of the police working effectively with the business sector to gather data, solve more crimes and successfully prosecute more offenders.”
Beating Online Shopping Scams this Christmas
www.neighbourhoodalert.co.uk the UK’s largest police force messaging platform, reports that data from Action Fraud, the national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime, reveals that 28,049 shoppers were conned out of £15.4m when shopping online over the Christmas period last year.
This is an increase of 61% versus the same period in the previous year.
Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when shopping online, as reports of online shopping fraud have continued to surge. They provide some simple tips to help you and your family enjoy a secure, online shopping experience this festive season.
Where to shop
Buying from an online store you haven’t used before? Carry out some research first, or ask a friend or family member if they’ve used the site and about their experiences before completing the purchase.
Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. Be cautious if the website asks you for details that are not required for your purchase, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your primary school.
When it’s time to pay for your items, check there’s a ‘closed padlock’ icon in the browser’s address bar. Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases.
Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. If you’re unsure about a link, don’t use it – go separately to the website. Please report suspicious emails you receive by forwarding them to: [email protected] Report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to: 7726.
Make sure that your really important accounts (such as your email account or online shopping accounts) are protected by strong passwords that you don’t use anywhere else.
If things go wrong
If you’ve lost money to an online shopping scam, tell your bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Police Scotland (for Scotland).
For more of the latest advice on how to stay secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware
MSDC proposes a new flexible season ticket offer and to increase car parking charges in line with inflation
Changes are proposed to car park season tickets, which are primarily used by town centre workers and commuters. The pandemic has dramatically changed the way people work, with many more people working from home, and this has had an impact on the demand for season tickets. The number of people using town centre season tickets is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, so a flexible 3-day season ticket could be introduced to fit in with new working habits.
Public sector organisations across the UK are facing serious budget gaps as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In local government, the financial cost of supporting communities through the pandemic has been huge. Even with additional funding from the Government, the cost to Mid Sussex District Council was £1.9 million during the 2020/21 financial year and Covid-19 will continue to have a significant impact on the Council’s finances over the coming years.
Parking charges in Mid Sussex town centre Pay and Display car parks have remained the same for the past ten years, which means they have not kept pace with inflation or rising management and maintenance costs.
One of the measures Mid Sussex District Council is proposing to help protect essential public services and to enable continued investment in the parking estate, particularly in new technologies to improve customer service, is an increase in parking charges. This would see parking for one hour increase from 80p to £1 and is directly in line with inflation since the last increase a decade ago. The proposed increase will generate around £350,000 each year.
Mid Sussex is currently one of the cheapest places to park in the area, when compared to neighbouring Council areas and this will continue to be the case if the proposed change to parking charges is introduced. Parking for 2 hours in a Mid Sussex District Council car park would cost a maximum of £1.50 compared with £1.80 in Lewes, £2 in Crawley and £2.80 in Horsham.
The proposed changes to parking charges and season tickets will be considered by Full Council on 8 December, when a final decision will be made.
Cllr Stephen Hillier, MSDC Cabinet Member for Economic Growth says,“Our parking charges have remained frozen for the past decade and by bringing them back in line with inflation, we will be able to support our key statutory services while also investing in the modernisation of our car parks. The decision to increase parking charges is not one we take lightly, but we must make some tough choices over the next few years if we are to effectively manage our budget and recover from the effects of this awful pandemic.”
He concludes by saying, “The financial pressures created on council finances by the pandemic are here to stay for the foreseeable future. We must plan ahead if we are to protect our services and safeguard the long-term sustainability of the Council.”
Covid 19 Rates in West Sussex
Alison Challenger, Director of Public Health at West Sussex County Council, wrote to headteachers this week to update them on the current situation regarding Covid in the county and to let secondary school headteachers know of an important change affecting their schools.
She says, “Latest data, as of Friday 19 November, further reinforces that we are far from over this pandemic, with many districts and boroughs in West Sussex having some of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country amongst young people. We are aware of more than 1,700 cases in the last week in children and young people’s settings including schools; an increase of around 600 on the previous week. Rates have risen sharply in children and young people aged over 5, particularly 10–14-year-olds, with rates of over 2,000 per 100,000, more than double the national average for this age group. Mid Sussex is a particular hotspot and has had one of the highest rates in the country for young people. We are now seeing increasing cases in primary schools.”
As West Sussex is now an area of high prevalence, she is advising secondary school headteachers to reintroduce the requirement for students to wear face coverings in communal areas in schools, unless they are exempt, whether there are currently Covid-19 cases in school or not. This is in line with the latest government guidance for schools.
She is asking for headteachers support in implementing this additional preventative measure until the end of term, when she and her team will review the situation in line with the latest data.
Keeping schools open for children and young people remains a priority. Whilst no one wants to return to a situation where students need to wear face coverings in class, in the current context of high and rising prevalence, either WSCC or the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) (formerly Public Health England) may recommend this and/or additional measures in outbreak situations.
We can all help reduce risk by continuing to promote regular testing (being mindful of the 90 day rule whereby anyone who has previously received a positive Covid-19 PCR test result should not be re-tested within 90 days of that test, unless they develop any new symptoms of Covid-19) and vaccination of staff and eligible pupils, to reduce the risk of both catching Covid-19, spreading it further, and minimising severe illness.
Please remember the hands, face, space and fresh air guidance was crucial to bringing us out of previous restrictions. Following these health protection measures is vital in helping reduce the numbers of positive cases.
The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment states the following:
Some Mid Sussex stats
The latest MSDC Wellbeing Business Plan and the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment lists a variety of interesting statistics, behind which there are some business opportunities.
Mid Sussex, overall, is a healthy place to live and grow. I am very proud that it is frequently in the best 25% of all areas, nationally, on a range of childhood measures known to have an impact on longer term health and wellbeing, including:
- Child poverty – one of the lowest rates in the country at 6.9% compared with a national rate of 16.8% and regional 12.5%.
- Childhood obesity- 15th lowest (12.3%) of all Local Authorities in the country in relation to 10/11-year olds.
We have 148,300 residents (2017 figures) and there has been a 10.6% increase in this number in the last 10 years, due to natural growth (more births than deaths) & inward migration.
Age data reveals that we have an older age structure compared with the rest of England, with 20% of our residents being 65+ years of age.
Deaths in under 75 year-olds from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, have fallen over the last 10 years, although there was a slight rise in 2014-16. However, it remains well below the England rate.
Life Expectancy, for men and women, in Mid Sussex is higher than national figures with 30,000 people aged 65+ and rising, with an additional 6,000+ projected in the next ten years. Using ONS projections, the increase of over 65s is projected to be in the region of 22% and in over 85s in region of 28%, which is significantly higher than overall population rise. We have increasing numbers of people with one, or more, long term health conditions, including over 14,000 carers, of whom 3,500 are 65+.
Many of our older residents live alone with more than 7,500 people 65+ recorded as living alone in 2011.
The Mid Sussex population is relatively healthy, but it still has some significant health challenges:
- Estimated 15,00 – 20,000 smokers
- Over 60% of adults are overweight or obese
- There are over 6,000 adults with diabetes
There has been a slight rise in early mortality in under 75s, which may mean the next generation of 65+ are not as healthy as the previous generation. It is postulated in some quarters that a wartime diet was a healthy diet and that we are seeing the benefits of such a frugal diet reducing in baby boomers.
For more Mid Sussex data visit: https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/about-us/mid-sussex-statistics-and-data/
Free Wellbeing support for businesses
The MSDC Wellbeing Team offers a variety of courses to help you and your workforce get healthier, happier and more productive. Some of the free courses and conversations include:
- Wellbeing at work
- Healthy weight
- Being Active
- Pre diabetes
There are many more facets to this service. For more information please visit: