Walcha Council will implement additional controls this week in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and threat to the safety of our community and our staff.
"Changes to Council services are not intended to isolate our residents, but to protect both our community and our staff so that we can continue to provide essential services," said Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes. "All of your council services are only a phone call or internet click away. We need to appreciate the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation and the consequences of not acting early enough.
"We need to act together to protect each other. All eight of your Councillors, and your Council staff are only a phone call away. We are here to support you through this and are ready to listen to any of your concerns."
Significant changes will include restricting access to the council office. There is now no access to either the engineering or environmental services departments and any visits to the council office must be by prior appointment.
Residents should first make contact with council via phone or email said Walcha Council general manager Anne Modderno and staff will do their best to resolve issues over the phone. This includes payment of rates, bills and all Service NSW services. As of yesterday the Walcha Preschool was still open.
"If this is not possible and the issue is considered urgent by staff, then individual appointments can be made," she said. "These actions and changes to council services have been made after putting the safety of our staff, their families and our community first. If you have any questions relating to council services please get in touch with us over the phone first."
Mr Noakes said while the community had already been through a lot together, COVID-19 is the biggest threat.
"It won't be a government policy, vaccine or the health system that can slow the spread of it - it will be us. We know we need to change our actions and I know that we can together," he said.
The following is a current status of the services provided by Walcha Council.
- Access to Council's main office (including Service NSW) is restricted. Staff could be reduced if virus is ongoing and therefore skeleton crews will be working.
- Water & Sewerage Operational Services will be continued
- Waste Management Operational Services continued including bin collection and recycling.
- Waste Depot services as normal at this stage.
- Road Maintenance & Safety Operational Council crews will continue to maintain roads and road safety at this stage.
- Ranger Services are currently being maintained by Uralla Shire Council.
- Walcha Preschool is still operational but the advice from the state government is to keep you children at home if you can. Families will not be charged if their child(ren) are taken out of Preschool.
- All park and sporting grounds will remain open and maintenance of grounds will continue however event organisers, sporting clubs and associations are to observe social distancing practices as prescribed by Federal Government.
- Lions park and Quota Park public toilets are now closed and McHattan Park will remain open with increased cleaning frequency.
- The Squash Court Complex including the community gym is now closed following advice issued by the State and Federal Governments.
- Meals on Wheels is operational - with new controls implemented for the volunteers providing this service.
- Town Bus for Walcha local shopping operational service has been increased to twice per week. Bookings are required
- Council Depot Operational Services will be maintained but will be reviewed to ensure staff safety.
- Walcha Community Care Office Restrictions - Drop ins by prior appointment only but will be reviewed to ensure staff and community safety. All events and group gatherings have been cancelled.
- Walcha Library is now closed - online services will be made available and access to drop off and pick up books made available. Books returned will be quarantined for 3 days then cleaned prior to being put back into circulation.
- Development applications and Assessments Operational - Tues/Wed/Thursday. Services Maintained through phone and email only during Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
- Walcha Memorial Baths - Pool Closed
- Visitor Information Centre Closed until further notice. Tourists referred to Walcha Tourism website for information.
- Bus to Armidale Service suspended until further notice.
- Bus to Tamworth Service suspended until further notice.
- April School Holiday activities cancelled
- Library Storytime and other group activities suspended until further notice.