During this New Year weekend it is now more important than ever to comply with Tier 4 rules in order to support NHS services under significant strain.
With Covid-19 spreading fast and cases at record levels both in Suffolk and across the country, the Suffolk Resilience Forum is reminding residents to continue playing their part in driving down infection levels. By following Tier 4 rules, we can reduce pressure on local health and social care services.
The Suffolk Resilience Forum, which is the multi-agency group comprising Suffolk’s local authorities, police, health and supporting agencies, is encouraging everyone to see in the New Year safely at home with their own household or support bubble and continue to follow the rules into January.
Latest figures from CoronaWatch show that there are 327 people being treated for Covid-19 in Suffolk’s hospitals (as of December 30), compared to 277 at the same point the previous week (18% increase). The average weekly case per 100k in Suffolk is 261.3 – a 32% increase from December 23. At the moment, Suffolk is seeing an average of 370 new cases a day, with forecasting predicting that cases could double by mid-January to reach 400 cases per 100,000 (currently 222.6).
Rachel Kearton, Suffolk’s deputy chief constable and Covid-19 response lead for the Suffolk Resilience Forum, said:
“Suffolk is at a critical point in the fight against Covid-19.
“We urge people to abide by the Tier 4 restrictions in order to do all they can to protect themselves, their families and the NHS.
“This week we have all seen the reports about the pressures hospitals, doctors, nurses and staff are under. They need us all to be responsible and to do the right thing. We should all stay local, work from home where possible, and only go out for essential journeys.
“From a policing perspective officers will continue to engage, educate and explain the restrictions to people who mistakenly contravene them. However, where there is a blatant disregard for the regulations we will enforce the law.”
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council and chair of the Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said:
“With the new vaccines, there is reason to be hopeful for 2021.
“But for now, infection rates are at unprecedented levels in Suffolk and there is growing demand on our hospitals and social care settings.
“The steps we take now are critical. Suffolk needs you to play your part and do all we can to keep ourselves and our friends, family and neighbours safe.”
The key advice remains ‘hands, face, space’ – washing your hands regularly, covering your face in enclosed spaces and social distancing from anyone you do not live with or who isn’t in your support bubble is vital.
“Wave two of this pandemic has once again seen a fall in people accessing NHS services for a range of conditions that are not related to coronavirus.
“If you have symptoms that indicate serious conditions, please go to hospital as normal.
If you are not seriously unwell please consider alternatives such as GPs, contacting NHS 111 or visiting your pharmacist. Accessing services in this way will allow us to work in the most effective way possible for the communities we serve.”
Under Tier 4 people cannot leave their homes unless there is a reasonable excuse. People cannot meet others indoors unless part of the same household or support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household.
Those who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable should not go to work and should limit time outside of their homes.
Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home and cannot travel abroad.
Police are appealing for witnesses to an incident of criminal damage in Lowestoft - which took place between Sunday 20th December at 10:30pm and Monday 21st December at 5:30am outside a property on York Road.
The victim's motorbike was tampered with whilst parked in front of their house, with damage to the handlebars and the steering lock being very tight. The victim believes this was in an attempt to steal the motorbike.
Meanwhile, in nearby Norwich Road, Police are appealing for witnesses or information after a car was set alight.
The incident occurred at around 10.50pm on Friday 18th December, while the car – a grey Peugeot 306 – was parked in Norwich Road.
Officers would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity in the vicinity of Norwich Road or York Road at around the time of the incidents.
Flood Alerts remain in place for parts of Suffolk, after the recent heavy rain led to a number of evacuations in the county over Christmas.
The Environment Agency still has Flood Alerts along the River Waveney - with water levels only slowly easing down.
A major incident was declared in Bungay during Christmas and teams of people worked to put sandbags in place to protect properties in the quay area of Beccles.
The River Waveney had burst its banks in places - in what for some places was their wettest day of the year.
This included Beccles, which recorded almost 2 inches of rain in the 24 hours to 8.30 by Christmas Eve morning - and was the second day this month, when rainfall totals exceeded an inch in one day in the town.
Lowestoft Lifeboat. Photo source: Lowestoft Lifeboat RNLI Twitter
Lowestoft’s lifeboat was called out on Christmas Day, following reports that a swimmer had gone missing at sea.
The lifeboat was called at around 11 o’clock on Christmas morning - after reports that someone had disappeared off the coast near the South Pier at Lowestoft.
The swimmer was found safe and well later and on Battery Green Road, after he had been taken by the tide - but had managed to get ashore near Sembmarine SLP at Hamilton Dock.
East Suffolk’s Coronavirus numbers have exploded by over 80 percent in the last week.
There are now 140 cases per one hundred thousand people in our area… With the biggest increase being among 19-39 year olds.
Matthew Hicks who is leader of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board at Suffolk County Council fears this could mean we could be placed in a higher tier before we ring in the new year.
Over Eleven Hundred new cases of COVID 19 has put East Suffolk is on alert.. We could be placed in a higher TIER as the virus spreads at speed across the county.
Matthew Hicks voiced his concerns saying that ‘The situation in Suffolk is incredibly Serious’ and went on to say that ‘we fully anticipate being moved into Tier 3, and maybe even Tier 4 to align with other East of England counties. We await the Government’s decision on the next tier review.'
“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of making sure you follow the guidance. This is the opportunity for everyone to stop and reset the way they live. We must work together to reverse this growth trend.
“Ultimately, we can decrease the spread of the virus by limiting our contact with other people outside our household, keeping our distance from each other, wearing a mask and washing our hands regularly.”
Details of cases in Suffolk:
People living in Beccles can now have a say on the future planning applications and building work in the East Suffolk town.
Beccles Town Council have submitted their Neighbourhood Plan to East Suffolk Council and the Broads Authority
They now want to hear what locals think of it - and you have til February 8 to get in touch
Subject to the plan successfully completing all the relevant regulatory stages, the policies and proposals contained in the plan will be used by East Suffolk Council and the Broads Authority in the determination of planning applications within the Beccles Neighbourhood Area.
Copies of the Neighbourhood Plan and supporting documents are available to view online. Physical copies are also available to view at Beccles Town Hall, The Walk, NR34 9AJ by appointment only. Please email email@example.com or call 01502 712109 to book an appointment. Please note that the document will only be available for viewing between 10:00 and 12:00.
In view of the current Covid-19 social distancing measures, the Council has set out measures to enable safe participation in the consultation and to ensure that those who wish to engage in the consultation are not disadvantaged.
Should you not be able to view the documents online, please contact us on 01394 444557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will, where possible, provide physical copies or specific sections of the documents (free of charge) by post. These measures are being kept under review.
Representations on the plan can be made online. Alternatively, email email@example.com or post to East Suffolk Council, Planning Policy and Delivery Team (Neighbourhood Plans), Riverside, 4 Canning Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0EQ.
All representations should be headed ‘Beccles Neighbourhood Plan’ as the subject matter. Where representations relate to a particular paragraph or policy please ensure that this is also clearly stated. Any representations made may include a request to be notified of East Suffolk Council’s decision whether to accept the Examiners’ recommendation and future progress with the plan.
Representations must be received no later than 5pm on 8th February 2021. All representations will be made available to view online as soon as possible after the close of the consultation.
Police are appealing for witnesses following a serious road traffic collision in Lowestoft.
On Thursday 10th December at approximately 5.05pm, a collision occurred between a black VW Golf and a bicycle on London Road South at the junction with The Avenue.
The cyclist was taken to the James Paget Hospital with a serious leg injury and was transferred to Addenbrookes’ Hospital where he remains.
The road was closed for a collision investigation to take place.
Officers would like to hear from any witnesses to the collision or anyone with any dash cam footage of the vehicles prior to the collision.
Anyone with any information should contact Sgt Paul Jackson of the Joint Roads and Armed Policing Team quoting incident reference number 290 of the 10th December.
This year's shortest day is going to be celebrated in Lowestoft with specially commissioned music, dance and stories on the Winter Solstice
As the year of all years for most of us draws to a close, The First Light Festival will showcase of series of online events reminding us that brighter, lighter days are just around the corner.
In a first for Lowestoft, the organisers of the First Light Festival - are marking this year’s Winter Solstice, with specially-commissioned online Winter Solstice performances.
As the year draws to a close, a series of online winter solstice events will celebrate the shortest day of the year - and remind us that brighter, lighter days are just around the corner.
A collection of performances including music, dance and storytelling will be available to watch on the festival’s Facebook page from Sunday 20th December - as well as a bespoke designed 18ft metal art installation evoking a wheel of time which will be lighting up the winter sky.
Meanwhile, the solstice sunrise will be streamed live from 0740 on the shortest day - 21st December.
First Light Winter Solstice will feature the following performances:
The Light Returns: composed by Lowestoft folk hero, John Ward, 'The Light Returns' is a celebration of First Light’s themes of day and night, the sea and the elements and the history and future of Lowestoft. John Ward is well known across the UK’s folk, roots and acoustic scene as a songwriter and performer who uses the history of his hometown, Lowestoft, as the main influence for his work. Lowestoft’s Rogue Shanty Buoys will also perform a version of the song and community singers from the Pakefield Singers will be joining in too.
Dusk Dance: set against the falling night time sky over the North sea, choreographer Rosemary Lee’s Dusk Dance is inspired by the folk traditions of men dancing together on the winter solstice. The trio of East Anglian young male dancers ranging in age from 11 to 25 first met when dancing as soloists in Rosemary Lee’s Circadian at First Light Festival 2019.
Wheel: designed by artist John Christie working with Lowestoft-based metal fabricator Richard Paine of My Metal Fabrications and Halesworth-based pyrotechnics company Shell Shock, Wheel is an 18ft installation that evokes a wheel of time. The installation incorporates words from a newly commissioned poem of the same name, by award-winning poet and author George Szirtes. Lit by flame and pyrotechnics, it will light up the winter sky and send out a message of hope: “With the Sea’s own voice, new light, new fire is coming.”
How Night Came from the Sea: storytelling by Wonderful Beast, the theatre company of myths, legends, folk and fairy tales who will present ‘How Night Came from the Sea’, a magical story from Brazil, told by actor Hilary Greatorex with music by Sylvia Hallett.
Genevieve Christie, one of First Light’s directors said: “We are very excited to be able to offer this collection of online performances to mark the end of what has been a difficult year. The winter solstice heralds the restarting cycle of the seasons, reminding us that winter is not forever and life continues. Although it marks the shortest day, the solstice is also a time for renewal.
We very much hope that all our performances will send an optimistic message to the Lowestoft community and beyond as we look towards the turn of year and a brighter future.”
Winter Solstice can be viewed on the festival Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/firstlightlowestoft/ from Sunday 20th December.
Suffolk remains under Tier 2 restrictions despite rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and pressure on health and care.
Cases triple since October and 239 COVID patients currently in Suffolk hospital beds.
Suffolk Leaders have pleaded: “Suffolk needs you now. We can get out of this together." This follows news that the county remains under Tier 2 restrictions - despite rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates across the county and pressure on hospitals, care homes and social care.
Today’s decision by central Government to keep Suffolk in the High Alert tier (or tier 2) means that the current restrictions will continue until the next national review.
Although Suffolk has so far seen comparatively lower levels of infection than elsewhere in the region and country, the current infection rate (106 cases per 100,000 people) is triple what it was when Suffolk entered tier one on 14th October (35 cases per 100,000 people).
At the beginning of September, there were just 5 cases per 100,000 people.
The pace of growth in the infection rate is also a major cause for concern across Suffolk, with the number of cases in the last week increasing by 62 percent in West Suffolk and 57 percent in East Suffolk. Ipswich, Mid Suffolk and Babergh have also seen increases.
This all puts pressure on Suffolk’s hospitals which need to protect Suffolk’s vulnerable residents whilst still treating non-COVID patients. There were 239 COVID patients in Suffolk hospital beds on 16th December 2020.
Councillor Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council and chair of the Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said: “Given where Suffolk was just three weeks ago, the increase in COVID-19 cases is shocking.
“It is the reality that we face however, and we must stand together and strong. Suffolk needs you now. The actions that each of us take over the coming weeks and months, ahead of the COVID vaccine being fully rolled out, will determine when we get our everyday social freedoms back.
“We have a choice. We can play our part now or live with COVID-19 for longer. We can get out of this by following the guidance, not just a little and when it suits us, but fully and always.”
Suffolk’s public sector organisations are already working on a range of actions to help control outbreaks and support the community. A new testing site for asymptomatic people will be piloted in central Ipswich and today (17 December), police and council staff will be in the town centre reinforcing safety messages and ensuring people are following the rules.
County wide, the Home But Not Alone phoneline will be actively contacting people who are self isolating to offer support. The Suffolk Advice and Support Service is also continuing, helping people with financial challenges due to COVID-19. The number of people able to claim the £500 grant available if self isolation poses financial difficulties is being expanded.
Businesses are being supported with advice and grants and community groups working in neighbourhoods, food banks and schools are being supported. A winter grant fund is providing vouchers or food boxes for families who normally receive free school meals and 110 voluntary organisations are providing access to hardship grants.
Rachel Kearton, Suffolk’s deputy chief constable and chair of the group of public sector organisations leading the fight against COVID-19 in the county, said:
“Throughout this extremely difficult year, the vast majority of people in Suffolk have made great sacrifices to protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS.
“I appreciate how hard that has been, but we must now redouble those efforts. We have reached a critical time for Suffolk with Christmas approaching.
“The rise in cases is very concerning and now we must rely on each other more than ever before. I urge everyone to follow the guidance all of the time. There is no room for complacency.
“Each of us is responsible for our own actions, and all of us must act responsibly if we are to look forward to a happier New Year.”
People in Suffolk continue to be able to:
East Suffolk Councillor, James Mallinder (pictured) is asking east Suffolk residents to reduce amounts pf waster over Christmas.
East Suffolk residents are being encouraged to consider the environment this Christmas by choosing recyclable products wherever possible and reducing their household waste.
An estimated 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging and an area of 83km squared of wrapping paper is thrown away in the UK every Christmas. However, much of this waste could be recycled at home through the blue household recycling bin.
Most wrapping paper is recyclable, with the exception of paper with glitter or foil-effect papers. Cardboard packaging and cards without glitter are also recyclable through the blue wheeled bin, as well as hard plastic, aluminium foil, newspaper, magazines, cans and plastic bottles.
Cllr James Mallinder, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for the Environment said: “Christmas will be different for many of us this year, but I hope it’ll still be a time for us all to relax, enjoy ourselves and spend time with the family and friends who are included in our household or Christmas bubble.
“Christmas is also a time where a huge amount of additional waste is created and much of this can be recycled. We appreciate that what can and cannot be recycled in the blue bin at home can be confusing however paper, card, plastic bottles and cans can all easily be recycled. If residents are unsure whether an item is recyclable, we would urge them to check the Suffolk Recycling website or ask us through social media.
“We would also like to encourage people to consider what they are buying this Christmas and choose recyclable materials if possible, as well as being mindful of overbuying food which may ultimately go to waste. There is a wealth of ways we can help reduce the amount of waste produced this Christmas and if each household can make just a few small changes, it would make a huge difference across East Suffolk.”
According to the Suffolk Waste Partnership, a staggering 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 17.2 million sprouts are thrown away every Christmas. To help save money and reduce the amount of food you throw away, try buying only what you need. If you do have leftover, you can either freeze this or use to create another meal, such as casseroles, soups, salads and much more. For more information on reducing food waste and recipe ideas for any leftovers, visit www.foodsavvy.org.uk
If you’ve bought a real Christmas tree this year, this can be disposed of in your garden waste after the festive season – remember to remove all decorations and make sure no pieces are larger than 1.5 inches (4cm) in diameters. The lid must be able to close completely. If you don’t have a garden waste bin, you can also compost your Christmas tree by cutting it into smaller pieces or recycle it in the green container at your nearest Recycling Centre.
Alternatively, some organisations are offering to collect real Christmas trees to help raise money for charity, however, these schemes are postcode specific. For more information and to check if you’re able to recycle your tree through the scheme, visit EACH (www.each.org.uk/get-involved/christmas-tree-recycling-scheme) or Just Giving (https://just-helping.org.uk/).
If you’re stuck for gift ideas or would like to take a greener approach to gifting this year, why not consider making your own gifts or even upcycling gifts? You can find lots of great ideas at www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk/green-christmas