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What are the current planning restrictions on supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres concerning deliveries?

On 13 March 2020 the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government issued a Written Statement in respect of delivery restrictions.

In this respect, many supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres in England operate under planning restrictions (conditions and/or obligations) which limit the time and number of deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles which can take place particularly at night primarily to protect the residential amenity of nearby residential property.

Key points in the Statement include;

  • Given the exceptional challenges facing the UK from the coronavirus, it is vital that deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential products over the coming weeks can be made as quickly and safely as possible, minimising disruption to the supply chains. The likely pressures on driver capacity mean additional flexibility is needed so that retailers can accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary.
  • That planning enforcement is discretionary and that local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.
  • That local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period having regard to their legal obligations.

The Statement acknowledges that the increased frequency of deliveries particularly at night could have a temporary impact on residents. It therefore concludes that the Government will review the need for the flexibility outlined in the Statement after the pressure from the coronavirus has reduced and that it is the intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has subsided.

A link to the Written Statement is below.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-03-13/HCWS159/

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If an employee works with vulnerable people who are at high risk of catching coronavirus, can the employer require them to limit their activities outside of work?

It is unlikely that an employer can place such a requirement on staff without infringing the employee’s privacy. If the employee is acting in accordance with the rules, limiting their activity would likely be considered unreasonable.

Would you suggest using a different name for a MHFA, maybe a MH champion, to encompass the wider pro-active role?

This may be a good idea – whatever name they are given, it is essential that MHFAs are empowered to take a proactive approach to organisational mental health and that they have the bandwidth to be able to discharge their responsibilities.  The name should reflect the culture of the organisation, the key aspect is awareness and accessibility – identifying a name for your company that supports this is key.

Which charities will benefit from this funding and when - local charities?

£370 million will be available to support small and medium-sized charities who are at the heart of local communities and which are making a big difference during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice. These monies will  be distributed by organisations including the National Lottery Community Fund for those in England. It is understood these monies will need to be applied for. The application system for the National Lottery Community Fund grant pot is expected to be operational within a period of weeks.

I am agreeing a financial settlement with my ex-spouse. Should we carry on negotiating despite COVID-19?

No. Before continuing any negotiations, you need to strongly consider whether now is the best time to settle. There is a myriad of uncertainty due to the pandemic, with unemployment rates increasing, volatility in the stock markets and difficulties regarding placing valuations on assets. This could all lead to the financial settlement being unfair to you and cause you financial difficulties in the future.

Any financial settlements reached following marital separation should be embodied in to a Court Order, to prevent future claims from your ex-spouse. As a general principle, although maintenance orders are always variable, financial orders in respect of capital (e.g. house, cash, investments, pensions) are final and it is very difficult to set aside a Court Order. The question will be whether or not the pandemic is judged as a Barder event, which broadly means something viewed as unforeseen. It would be challenging for you to argue that the effects of COVID-19 are unforeseen given the widespread expectation of an economic crisis. The Court previously found against a husband who wanted to revisit an Order that he said was unaffordable following the 2008 financial crisis, with one Judge commenting that a 90% drop in the Husband’s share price was a “natural process of price fluctuation”.

Even if you informally agree a settlement with your ex-spouse, and you do not have this reflected in a Court Order, your ex-spouse may still rely on this agreement within future Court proceedings and argue that you should be held to it.

It is, therefore, very dangerous to be reaching any financial settlements at this time with your ex-spouse without careful consideration and legal advice. Further, even if an agreement is reached, market volatility can mean longer implementation times, especially when a settlement relies on the sale of property.