domestic abuse

Wokingham Borough Council to fund domestic abuse support

Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive is set to review and approve plans to increase funding into a new domestic abuse support service. The £1.5million contract would cover a five year period with the option to extend for a further two years. 

Additional funding of £115,000 for 2021/22 has been requested to help manage the increased demand for services and additional statutory duties which are expected to be placed on Wokingham Borough Council. 

The council plans to procure a new contract ahead of June 2021, when the current contract expires. At present the domestic abuse service is provided by Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA). 

“Domestic abuse can happen against anyone and anybody can be an abuser. The council recognises that the effects are wide-ranging and have a serious impact on both adults and children, including their health and wellbeing,” said Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure.

“Ensuring easy access to information, specialist services, and multi-agency support is a vital part of keeping our residents safe. The council is responsible for providing domestic abuse support for victims seeking help and advice and individuals who are identified as being at high or medium risk of serious harm.” 

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexuality, or background.  Domestic abuse does not only occur between couples. It can also involve wider family members, including parental abuse by an adolescent or grown child. It can exist between older siblings, or the wider extended family in elder or honour-based abuse.

Investing in the domestic abuse support service is vital to ensuring effective support options are in place and available to protect vulnerable residents in line with the council’s aims to enabling safe, strong communities and changing the way Wokingham Borough Council works for its residents.  

The new service would be available to all residents including a focus on increasing accessibility for BAME, male, LGBTQ+, and victims who have a disability.

The services set to be commissioned would include: 

  1. a helpline
  2. access to specialist independent domestic abuse advocates (IDVA’s)
  3. outreach, children and young people support, group-based programmes 
  4. refuge support

The council has recently employed a dedicated domestic abuse coordinator to increase coordination across the organisation. Work is already underway with current Domestic Abuse Subgroup members and wider key stakeholders to establish a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board by April 2021 to support delivery of the new Domestic Abuse Bill 2021.

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Garden waste collections suspended from 19 January


Garden waste collections have been temporarily suspended again in Wokingham Borough due to Covid-19.

The waste collection contractor Veolia have made the difficult decision to suspend garden waste collections from 19 January until Monday (25 January) when Veolia are aiming to restart the service.

This is due to Covid-19 impacting 40% of Veolia’s staff. There have been a small number of confirmed cases but, due to close contacts, a high number of staff are having to self-isolate.

By suspending garden waste Veolia can continue to provide weekly general waste, recycling and food waste collections.

Temporarily stopping garden waste collection services is happening up and down the country, as Covid-19 creates staffing issues for councils and waste contractors around the UK. Many have completely suspended services for extended periods.

We will continue to provide updates to you as the situation changes.

This is the third time Wokingham Borough Council has had to temporarily suspend the garden waste collections this month but this will be a longer pause than previously and there will be no catch up collections this time.

If your garden waste bin is currently at the kerbside and has not been collected by the end of the day, please take it back in and hold onto it until your next regularly scheduled collection day.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the council extended the current garden waste service for the 2020 – 2021 contract for an additional month to allow for any disruptions to the service due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those who are signed up for garden waste are getting two additional collections dates compared to a normal year. It’s hoped most residents are not missed more than once and we continue to work with Veolia to get the services restarted as soon as possible.

You should assume collections will restart on Monday (25 January) and garden waste should be put out if you are due a collection then. You can check collection days on our website.

For any further information or to discuss please contact Wokingham Borough Council directly.

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wokingham borough council

Covid 19 business support grants update


Wokingham Borough Council is endeavouring to match the pace of Government updates with regard to the delivery of Covid-19 business support grants.  Application forms remain live on the Council website.  A summary page is here:

ARG – Discretionary Grant Scheme Phase 2 covers those businesses which have been severely impacted by the national lockdown restrictions put in place from 3 December 2020. Phase 2 will cover those businesses up until the 2 April 2021. Applications must be received within this period.  Please read the Policy Booklet and if you are eligible complete the on-line application form here:

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kickstart scheme

Wokingham Borough Council creates new jobs for youths with its Kickstart Scheme

Wokingham Borough Council has announced that its application to the Government’s Kickstart Scheme has been successfully approved; creating a number of new job opportunities in the area for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment. 

The aim of Kickstart, which is part of the Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ scheme, is to get 16-24-year olds who are struggling to find work, into employment during the Covid-19 pandemic. Each job placement is completely new, lasting for six months and helping young people to build their confidence and experience in the workplace; all while earning a regular wage for up to 25 hours per week. 

To apply for one of the council’s Kickstart roles, applicants must be registered with Jobcentre Plus and be claiming Universal Credit. Those already registered and claiming Universal Credit can discuss the eligibility criteria with their work coach to see if they’re a suitable applicant.

Roles will vary from internal-facing positions within the IT and HR teams, to external-facing roles as part of the council’s Covid response. 

The Council has also acted as a gateway for its adult social care services partner, Optalis, who’s application has also been successful and will create a number of support roles as part of the scheme. At this stage, the application covers a total of 25 Kickstart placements at Wokingham Borough Council and five at Optalis. 

Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing says: “There’s no doubt that the pandemic has hit young people hard and for many, employment opportunities have been few and far between. For these young adults who have been struggling to find work, the Kickstart Scheme will provide a life-changing opportunity to step onto the career ladder and we are delighted to be able to help. Not only will they gain hands-on, paid experience in a real working environment; they will also receive training alongside their job to help them excel and land permanent jobs in the future. This will cover key employability areas, such as writing a CV and learning basic IT skills.” 

The scheme is funded by the UK Government, covering 100% of National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage, depending on the age of the participant), associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. More than 19,000 jobs have been created for young people across the UK, covering a wide range of industries. The scheme is due to end in December 2021. 

“It is very important to us to take a proactive approach in supporting and preparing our future workforce”, says Cllr John Kaiser. “Therefore, we are encouraging anyone within this age bracket, who is currently claiming Universal Credit, to speak to their Jobcentre Coach about their eligibility criteria for our roles. We are also urging local employers of all sizes to consider applying for Kickstart Scheme funding and help provide even more employment opportunities for young people in the area.”

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Garden waste collection reinstated


Garden waste collections in Wokingham Borough, which were previously suspended due to Covid-19 cases are now reinstated.

The suspension, which started on 11 January, due to Covid-19 impacting almost 40% of staff at the borough’s waste collection contractor Veolia, has now been reinstated with a schedule to catch up on missed collections. 

Please put your garden waste out as normal if you’re due a collection. For anyone who missed their garden waste being collected during the period 11-13 January; these will be collected on Saturday (16 Jan). Please put your garden waste out then if you were missed on those days.

For further information please contact Wokingham Borough Council.

Government guidance is to stay at home during the national lockdown but the re3 recycling centres at Longshot Lane, Bracknell, and Smallmead, Reading, remain open as a key public service. If you are unable to store your waste at home or wait to visit, then you can book a slot to visit via the click and tip service. 

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Covid 19 vaccine scams

As of 7 January 2021, Action Fraud had received 57 reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for coronavirus vaccinations. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases the online form has looked very similar to the real NHS website.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: 
“Remember, the vaccine is only available on the NHS and is free of charge. The NHS will never ask you for details about your bank account or to pay for the vaccine. If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, this is a scam.”

How to protect yourself:

In the UK, coronavirus vaccinations will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a local GP surgery or pharmacy, to receive your vaccination. Remember, the vaccinations are free of charge and you will not be asked for a payment.

The NHS will never:

  • ask for your bank account or card details
  • ask for your PIN or banking passwords
  • arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
  • ask for documentation to prove your identity, such as a passport or utility bills

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting

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police and crime commissioner thames valley police

Thames Valley Police Council Tax Survey

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, is seeking your views on a proposed increase to the policing element of council tax for 2021/22.

In response to the exceptional operational demands placed on the police, particularly in response to the global pandemic, the Government is increasing funding available to PCCs by up to £703 million. This is provided all PCCs increase their council tax for a Band D household by £1.25 a month*, or £15 a year in 2021/22 which, collectively, will raise £287 million, or 40% of the £703 million increase in funding.

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “Despite the increase in funding from government, there continue to be cost pressures on the Force and the public rightly expect to see improving performance in order to keep us all safe and bring criminals to justice. Alongside the funding from the Home Office, the Government has also allowed Police and Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by up to £15 (for a Band D property) in order to make additional investments in policing. In Thames Valley that means that for less than 29p a week for the average household (Band D property) more than £13m could be invested in frontline policing.

“In previous years the support of local tax payers through their council tax has meant that we have managed to reduce the time it takes for the police to answer non-urgent 101 calls and to significantly increase detection rates, meaning that more victims of crime receive justice and more criminals are held to account.

“It is important that any increase in council tax now, at a time when many families are struggling, is focussed on frontline policing to tackle the concerns of the public. I am proud of the work done by Thames Valley Police Officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers every single day, but there is always more that can be done.

The survey can be completed at and is open until 5pm on Wednesday 20th January 2020.

*Proposed increases for other council tax bands can be found below:

BandCurrent Police share of council tax in 2020/21Proposed council tax 2021/22Proposed monthly increase


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Local roadworks

M4 closures

Highways England has advised that the M4 will be closed in both directions this  weekend, 8-11 January, between junctions 10 (Winnersh) and 12 (Theale). The closure will start after 8pm Friday and the motorway will reopen by 6am on Monday.

Further closures are also planned in both directions over next weekend, 15–18 January, between junctions 8/9 (Maidenhead) and 10 (Winnersh). The closure will start after 8pm Friday and  reopen by 6am on Monday.

For further details visit the Highways England website.


Multi-way lights – Bath Road

These lights will be in place at the junction of Sonning Lane and South Lane on 11-18 January, 930am-330pm, to allow Gigaclear to carry out telecom installation works. 

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covid 19

England is now in a national lockdown

Following the announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the evening of Monday 4th January, England is now in a National Lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid 19. 

What you can and cannot do during the national lockdown

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare – for those eligible.

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid-February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.

Hands – Face – Space

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space.’

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings).

In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.

When you can leave home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:

  • Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance
  • Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
  • Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
  • Education and childcare – You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
  • Meeting others and care – You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
  • Exercise – You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. See exercising and meeting other people.
  • Medical reasons – You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.
  • Harm and compassionate visits – you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
  • Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
  • Communal worship and life events – You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship.Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

Exercising and meeting other people

You should minimise time spent outside your home.

It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds

Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.

When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.

Support and childcare bubbles

You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.

support bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the eligibility rules.

It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these rules.

You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles.

Where and when you can meet in larger groups

There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations, and includes:

  • for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home. This can include work in other people’s homes where necessary – for example, for nannies, cleaners, social care workers providing support to children and families, or tradespeople. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes). Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not – for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in a public outdoor place.
  • in a childcare bubble (for the purposes of childcare only)
  • Where eligible to use these services, for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children. Access to education and childcare facilities is restricted. See further information on education and childcare.
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services
  • for birth partners
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • for gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances and only for up to 6 people
  • for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people.
  • to visit someone at home who is dying, or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment
  • for elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) – or those on an official elite sports pathway – to compete and train
  • to facilitate a house move

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support – but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.

Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

If you break the rules

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

Further information can be found on the government website HERE.

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