Some Sandwell Council buildings will close and events will be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Yvonne Davies, has confirmed that all events taking place in Sandwell will be cancelled or postponed for the next 12 weeks.
This means all events and organised activities in Sandwell’s parks, museums, libraries and at Lightwoods House will not be going ahead. Public spaces such as local parks and Sandwell Valley currently remain open to the public.
Some council buildings and visitor attractions, including some local neighbourhood offices, Sandwell Park Farm and Forge Mill Farm, museums and some libraries, will also close.
West Bromwich Local (based at Court House) and Oldbury Local (based at Sandwell Council House) will remain open. Council offices at Smethwick, Rowley Regis, Wednesbury and Tipton Local offices will close and staff will be redeployed.
The announcement is in line with government advice on non-essential contact or travel around the UK in response to dealing with the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
This will include events organised by Sandwell Council and externally-organised events in Sandwell.
The council will review arrangements when the 12-week period ends in June.
The council will also be closing some council buildings and visitor attractions for 12 weeks to ensure the health and safety of visitors and frontline staff.
Councillor Davies said: “We have taken the difficult decision to cancel major events and close some council buildings and visitor centres in Sandwell to ensure the health and safety of our visitors and staff.
“We have considered national guidelines from the government when making our decision. We have tried our best to limit the impact on our residents while still continuing to provide essential services to our customers during this difficult period.
“We are also working with supermarkets to procure essential supplies for our vulnerable and older residents. The supermarkets have welcomed us approaching them and they are doing what they can to support us during this crisis.
“We ask residents, where possible, to get in touch with us via the internet by setting up a MySandwell account at www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell
“Anyone who needs to pay a bill should pay online at www.sandwell.gov.uk/paybills or by calling 0300 456 0514.
“If you are an older or vulnerable person who is self-isolating with no family, friends or neighbours for support, please call the council on 0121 569 2266.
“The council is doing everything it can to support our residents and staff during this unprecedented crisis.
“This is a challenging time for everyone and I want to reassure our residents that we will continue to monitor the situation and will take the necessary steps in line with government guidelines to keep everyone safe here in Sandwell.”
Cancellations and closure of buildings will start from today (18 March) and this will continue to be under review by the council throughout the 12-week closure period.
Sandwell Locals (neighbourhood offices)
We will be closing all Local offices to the public apart from West Bromwich (at Court House) and Oldbury Local (at Sandwell Council House).
Staff will be deployed from other areas to maintain essential services to the public at the Locals that remain open. Only emergency enquiries will be dealt with at the Local offices open.
Sandwell Libraries and Archives
We will be closing our libraries (a total of 13 and the mobile service) to ensure that key town centre venues can continue to remain open to the public.
The libraries that will remain open are West Bromwich (Central), Oldbury, Smethwick, Wednesbury, Blackheath and Glebefields in Tipton.
All events across the libraries that remain open will be cancelled to limit large gatherings until 8 June 2020.
Sandwell Park Farm and Forge Mill Farm
The visitor centres at Sandwell Park Farm and Forge Mill Farm will close to all the public to ensure our staff, who are taking care of the animals, are not put at increased risk of infection.
We will keep the parks open to the public and will continue to maintain the green spaces. Public safety notices will be displayed across the park.
Museums and arts
We will be delaying the opening of all Sandwell museums, including Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery, until 8 June 2020. Any planned events will be cancelled or postponed.
All Sandwell Council-run events will be cancelled including any corporate bookings until 8 June. The council is in discussions with concession and lessees to continue operation of their public facing services.
All AGM meeting or committee meetings will be cancelled or postponed for 30 days. This most likely will be extended depending on official recommendations over the coming weeks.
If you do visit your allotment, we recommend that precautions are taken by all of you to help prevent the spread of the virus, particularly to your tenants who are in ‘at risk’ categories. Holding a meeting in close proximity to others, often in small meeting rooms/ huts, would not be advisable at this moment in time.
For more information on Sandwell Council’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and what to do if you need support, visit www.sandwell.gov.uk/coronavirus