COUNCIL workers have thanked Oxford's residents for being a 'great example of corona community kindness".

Staff at Oxford City Council's wholly-owned company Oxford Direct Services have changed their ways of working due to the coronavirus pandemic in the last two weeks.

Because of the changes, including suspension of some council services, the council and ODS have thanked the public for their help in 'adapting so rapidly'.

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The company, which used to be an arm of the council, handles bin collection, street cleaning, and construction and maintenance work.

In a letter sent to staff last Friday, director of ODS Simon Howick wrote: “We are currently in business-critical mode. Broadly, waste, emergency repairs, cemeteries, rapid response on highways and streets, estates services, jetting, fleet, and various support services around these carry on."

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Simon Howick

The company is the largest employer of skilled trade workers in Oxford.

Many of its staff are either still working outside or have switched to new volunteer roles.

ODS staff who normally work in building and maintenance, looking after nearly 8,000 homes for the council have stopped all non-essential work.

While emergency home repairs like gas, electricity or water works are taking place, other construction has stopped.

What work now goes on is to safeguard either the NHS or the community.

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Ian Batchelor, Director of Construction for ODS is co-ordinating the use of ODS vehicles and staff for the Oxford Hub community service, which has been set up to help vulnerable people with food and other needs through the lockdown.

Mr Batchelor said: “We’ve got carpenters, joiners, plumbers, electricians and a host of people who can’t do their normal job for us, delivering a service for the Oxford Hub.

Some ODS staff are still carrying out essential including disabled adaptations across the city, while others are working on emergency repairs.

All staff at the company have had health and safety training.

Some staff like binmen and street cleaners have had to carry on working outside throughout the pandemic lockdown, and ODS has appealed for the public to keep their distance from them.