MAYO COUNTY COUNCIL – COVID-19 UPDATE
Posted in Connect on March 30, 2020.
Planning Process and Statutory Deadlines
On 29 March, 2020, the Minister and the Government, taking account of the considerations under section 251A(5) of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended, made orders which result in an extension of time for a range of specified/appropriate periods and timelines under this Act, and a number of other related Planning Acts1 and associated regulations.
This means that such periods are extended in duration from 29 March 2020 to 20 April 2020 inclusive. This follows on from the statement by An Taoiseach on 27 March 2020, which asked people generally to stay at home until Easter Sunday (12 April 2020), other than for certain essential activities, and introduced cocooning for people aged over 70 and vulnerable groups. In determining the end date of the order under Section 251A, a number of additional days have been added to this period to allow for appropriate notice of revised arrangements on expiry of the order.
How long will the Order under Section 251A last?
In the context of the current civil emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has decided to make an Order from Sunday 29th March 2020 to Monday 20th April 2020 inclusive, a total period of three weeks and two days (23 days).
Section 251A of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended provides that this order could be extended (before it expires), once the statutory requirements for extension are met and could be further extended as many times as is considered necessary, until 9th November 2020. Any such future decision to extend the period will be communicated.
What does an Order under Section 251A mean for the Planning System?
An Order under Section 251A means that the time periods specified for any statutory process in the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended (the Act) and related planning legislation are disregarded, which means that they are, in effect, extended for the duration of the time period specified by the Order.
An Order with a duration of 23 days, means that a planning authority will have the normal period of eight weeks, together with an additional period of up to three weeks and two days i.e. up to eleven weeks and two days in total, to determine a planning application.
The exact calculation of the extended time period will depend on the date a planning application is submitted and the stage of the process it is at, with further details set out below.
Planning Applications submitted up to and including Friday 21st February 2020
These applications have been subject to the minimum period for public consultation and can be decided. The period for deciding these applications may be extended by up to the duration of the Order i.e. up to a further three weeks and two days.
Mayo County Council will endeavour to make a decision on planning applications that that are due for decision between the 29th March 2020 and 20th April 2020 (as may be further extended), if circumstances permit, but may extend this period in accordance with the Order.
Further information requested on these applications may be submitted to the Planning Office of Mayo County Council by post. If post is not available send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information received between the period of 29th March 2020 and 20th April 2020 (as may be further extended), will be processed and progressed as circumstances permit, but it is likely that the 4 week period with recommence as per Order on the 20th April (or as further extended)
Planning Applications submitted after Friday 21st February 2020
Any planning application that was submitted to a planning authority less than five weeks prior to the date of commencement of the Order, i.e. after Friday 21st February 2020, cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until after Monday 20th April 2020 (or as further extended). This is to ensure that the five-week period for public consultation is completed after the expiry of the duration of the Order. The effect of this is that the period for deciding any such applications, must be extended by the full duration of the Order.
Planning Applications Submitted on or after 29th March
Any planning application submitted to a planning authority after the date of commencement of the Order, cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until the five-week period for public consultation on the application commences, and this cannot be until the expiry of the duration of the Order plus at least five weeks i.e. after Monday 25th May 2020.
Can Planning Applications still be made during the period of the Order?
Yes, planning applications may be posted to the relevant local authority principal office, even where public offices are closed. This may be more challenging in the case of more complex applications, and local authorities should consider what arrangements can be made locally in this regard. Initial processing, including validation, will be progressed.
It should be noted that if a planning application is received over this period, there will be an onus on the applicant to maintain a site notice on site until after Monday 25th May 2020.
Mayo County Council takes the lead in co-ordinating local organisations to assist citizens during Covid-19
Dedicated community support helpline to be available from Monday
At the instigation of Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy a Covid-19 Community Response Forum will be put in place for each County and will be co-ordinated by the Local Authority in each case.
A dedicated community support helpline will be established in Mayo County Council to assist at-risk members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical supports and advice during the current public health emergency. The confidential phoneline service is being established by the new COVID-19 Mayo County Council Community Response Forum, which includes over a dozen agencies and organisations. The helpline is focused primarily on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of groceries, medicine and fuels. The role of the Forum is to ensure that there is a co-ordinated community response and to enable all voluntary statutory agencies to collaborate in support of our communities and particularly of our most vulnerable members.
Included in the COVID-19 Mayo County Council Community Response Forum are:
· Mayo County Council
· Health Service Executive
· An Garda Síochána
· Other community, voluntary and sports representatives
The new phoneline is just one aspect of the Forum’s work. Its core aim is contributing to the community-wide effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Mayo County Council through this group, will ensure that the wide variety of groups working across Mayo to assist those in need, will do so in an organised, collaborative and targeted way. The Council’s COVID-19 Community Response Forum is there to ensure the very best use of the many resources assisting vulnerable persons with their daily needs at this unprecedented time, whether that is collecting medication, food shopping, social support and contact.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Brendan Mulroy outlined “This public health crisis has changed life for so many, and we are there to help with that change. The role that Mayo County Council will play in leading the Community response will ensure that there is a co-ordinated all County response in support of our communities and particularly of our most vulnerable members”
Chief Executive of Mayo County Council Peter Hynes explained… “There are a number of agencies currently doing excellent work in delivering care to older and vulnerable people in our communities. These groups are currently operating independently of each other and Mayo County Council’s role is to provide a targeted, integrated and coordinated approach to the delivery of these much-needed services to our more vulnerable citizens across Mayo during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayo County Council is ideally placed both statutorily and regionally to channel this great work and provide the governance structure in partnership with all stakeholders. Our staff whose day-jobs have changed due to this crisis, will be a key resource in the management and operation of this community support programme in collaboration with our partner agencies/groups.”
Set to come into effect from Monday next 30th March, Mayo County Council is providing a dedicated contact number.. 094 9064660 with the lines open from 8am to 8PM. The dedicated email address is … email@example.com
Contact details of this new service will be promoted on the Mayo County Council website and Social Media Channels. An information leaflet including the new phone number and other information will be distributed around the Mayo, particularly to vulnerable households, over the coming days.
Mayo County Council’s Community Engagement
“The character of a country is defined by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens”
The people of County Mayo are well-respected for their sense of community and togetherness as a county. We look out for one another, stay in touch with one another and rally round to help one another in times of crisis. Mayo County Council’s Community Engagement Team is the official local government office that coordinates the overall response of the county to the Coronavirus crisis.
Head of Community Engagement at Mayo County Council, Liam Hanrahan outlined “Our role is to ensure that the benefits of the response is felt by those who need it most, and that the overall work is in line with the Government Action Plan in response to COVID-19.
Communication is the key to the success of this work, if you are someone who is feeling isolated we want you to know that we are here for you, we want to hear from you, we will reach out to you so that you aren’t alone”
Here’s how we are going about the work of unifying our county’s efforts into one overall hardworking approach. Firstly, we identify the geographic areas and vulnerable groups or individuals where additional community supports are needed and decide on how to best reach them.
We gather information of the groups and individuals who are volunteering, circulate their details through recognised grassroots community networks such as the Public Participation Network, Mayo Sports Partnership, community & voluntary service providers and local development companies. If you are connected to one of these networks keep in touch with them and they will look out for you.
Once we are aware of who requires the support and match them with the most suited community volunteer efforts, we ensure that the most appropriate guidance and protocols are available to safeguard everyone. We are working via online forums to provide short online training seminars on volunteer protocols and how to be proactive, but in a safe manner that respects social distancing.
Finally, we are streamlining our approach so that the volunteer efforts reach as many people as possible and we operate in a coordinated manner to ensure there isn’t a duplicate service, and where possible, work via one committee per area.
How do you find out what’s going on in your locality?
Mayo County Council’s segregates the county into four municipal districts, Ballina, Claremorris-Swinford, Castlebar and Westport-Belmullet. We have identified all single tenancy social houses in each district, we are making a phone call to each tenant, to check-in on them and make sure they feel supported and part of the Mayo community and we are doing the same in coordination the Gardaí’s vulnerable persons lists.
Researching how local communities are dealing with the current crisis we have a survey that is on-going and available here: Community Engagement Questionnaire:
Of the 133 groups to respond who have put in place some support measures in their community:
- Over 60 of the groups are community groups without staff
- 30 of the groups are community organisations with staff
- 80% of groups have not had any calls about covid-19 yet.
- Of the 20% who have had calls, calls have either been to get shopping/prescriptions or someone just in need of a chat.
- Half the groups have compiled lists of vulnerable people in their community
- Over 90% have enough volunteers in place & enough resources in place to do the work
We will regularly update all information both on the Community Engagement Map and in the News section of www.Mayo.ie, updates will also be found on our social channels @mayodotie and @MayoCoCo.
All community volunteer efforts are or great importance and hugely beneficial to everyone involved. Mayo County Council Community Engagement Team is here to help and to coordinate all the while reiterating Social Distancing guidelines:
For your community, your county, your country
Stay Safe – Stay Strong – Stay Separate
For anyone interested in volunteering or for anyone who is feeling isolated or lonely please contact us on (096) 71444 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Mayo County Council – Civic Amenity Site Update
Mayo County Council is experiencing increased numbers using the Civic Amenity sites.
We facilitate customers who wish to dispose of household waste, bulky goods and recycling domestic items.
We request that only visits for essential waste disposal purposes are conducted at this time and that you leave non-essential visits during the current Covid 19 episode.
As social distancing is an absolute priority, citizens are likely to experience delays entering and exiting our facilities. We implore you, in the interest of safety for staff and one another, to please be patient at these times and conduct, care, courtesy and consideration
Please consider payment by card or contactless payment where at all possible.
Stay Safe – Stay Strong – Stay Separate
Stay Safe – Stay Strong – Stay Separate
Mayo County Council appeals for people to take social separation seriously
This is an extraordinary time, that requires extraordinary measures, therefore the Cathaoirleach, and Chief Executive of Mayo County Council are taking the unusual step of issuing a PLEA for everyone to abide by advice from our health experts on social distancing – social distance require 2 metres or 6 foot 5 inches of a distance – Think of keeping a tall rugby player of a distance between you and the next person to you, wherever you go!
The key message is to Stay Safe – Stay Strong – Stay Separate
- Mayo Co Council is here for our Communities Our offices are open – Essential public services including Roads, Water, Housing, Environment, Motor Tax and Planning are all being delivered with new arrangements in place to manage contact and protect public health and safety. All updates are posted on our website … www.mayo.ie and on our Twitter and Facebook pages
- Community Engagement We are working with Community Groups to co-ordinate voluntary efforts and with the HSE and Gardai to identify and support those who may need additional support and monitoring at this time. You will find a map of all of the community volunteer groups throughout the county on our homepage of mayo.ie, log-on to get the contact information that you need.
- Support for HSE We have put all our available facilities and resources at the disposal of the HSE in fighting this war. The Lough Lannagh Leisure Complex is in service as a Covid-19 Test Centre. The complex isn’t open to the public, so we ask people to be mindful of people’s privacy and not visit the centre unless referred by their GP.
- Playgrounds We have had to close the playgrounds throughout the county to protect the young against the spread of the virus. We ask that parents please, please adhere to the closure of the playgrounds and not to allow their children to play there. We also request that people refrain from removing the warning signage at the playground. The virus can live on surfaces for many days we implore people to be mindful of this.
- Everyone Can Contribute – Social Distancing is the key and the next seven days are crucial for the fate of this county. We do not want to see convoys of trucks ferrying coffins for burial. Everyone can help – everyone should help – everyone must help to support frontline medical personnel. Follow the advice and keep your distance ……
WE PLEA …. Please please …. For your Community, For your County, For your Country
Stay Safe – Stay Strong – Stay Separate
Public Notice in respect of HAP tenancies
In light of the COVID-19 situation and recent announcements made by our government in relation to measures being taken to combat the spread of Covid-19.
In the interests of reducing direct contact, HAP tenants should check with their local authority before presenting in person at any local authority offices, as it might be possible to carry out your business over the phone or electronically.
Please heed the following advice regarding HAP tenancies:
- If a HAP tenant does not experience any change in financial circumstances as a result of the steps being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, there should be no change to the operation of the scheme – HAP payments will continue to be made to the landlord and the tenant’s differential rent will continue to be collected.
- If a HAP tenant does experience a change in financial circumstances on foot of COVID-19, those tenants should contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and apply for the relevant supports https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/4cf0e2-covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-employers-and-employees-test/
- Please send in proof of a change in financial circumstances via email, we ask that documentation received from DEASP to be scanned / photographed and emailed to your local authority, so as to limit footfall in and out of Local Authority offices.
- The possibility of local authority staffing levels being reduced may lead to delays in rent amounts being amended, but this won’t affect the HAP payment to landlords.
- Differential rent arrears that accumulate following the submission of DEASP documentation during the COVID-19 measures will be re-assessed and rectified, as appropriate, by local authorities in due course– this won’t affect HAP payments to landlords.
The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government recognises the additional pressures facing both landlords and tenants in relation to the Covid-19 crisis and is working with local authorities and the HAP Shared Services Centre to ensure the continuation of HAP tenancies during this period.