by adamboyden on 12 May, 2020
As one of your local councillors I need to keep you informed, and I hope this is useful. First of all I want to say Thank You to every one of you who are helping keep our community safe and well during this national crisis.
Lib Dem and other opposition MPs are calling for clarity from the Government about the recently announced steps to ease restrictions as well as action on testing, care homes and PPE, and to help the self-employed, and have proposed a Frontline Support Package for NHS and social care workers. Your local councillors are working at district, town and county councils to support residents and businesses through this difficult time.
Government guidance effective 13th May:
The Government has updated the rules which we need to follow – see here:
From 13th May, people in England will be allowed to spend more leisure time outside, provided they comply with social distancing guidelines. Those who cannot work from home “should be encouraged to return to work”. ‘Back to work’ Government guidelines can be found here.
The Government has published a lengthy ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ to explain what people can and cannot do – dealing with Public spaces, outdoor activities and exercise; Vulnerable groups, shielding, 70 year olds and over, and care homes; Going to work / Safer spaces; Workers rights; Public Transport; Schools and childcare; Borders/ international visitors; and Enforcement – please see here. Please also note that the Employment Rights Act 1996, section 44, still also applies.
The Government has also announced the furlough scheme (to pay 80% of the wages of workers put on leave) is being extended until the end of October – see here. All Government guidance, announcements and other information can be found here.
The Government’s new slogan ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’ has been criticised for not being clear or not having expert backing. If in doubt, ‘Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’ still works, as well as ‘stay safe, so you can help others’, and ‘keep your distance’.
Somerset waste services reopening:
Collections of garden waste have been restarted. Eleven recycling centres (including Frome) are now open for people to deposit refuse only (but not recycling) that cannot be safely stored at home, with vehicles admitted on a ‘one in one out’ basis with an odd and even numberplate system in use: odd numbers only Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays; even numbers only Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Please see the short video here for essential details before you set out, and here for the latest on waste services as a whole.
Help is available:
Anyone can call the Somerset Coronavirus support helpline 0300 790 6275 from 8am to 6pm every day to seek help from our district and county councils on: personal care and support including delivery of food and prescriptions, homelessness, transport to medical appointments, waste collection and disposal, support for businesses, and emotional and financial support.
The district and county councils are contacting identified vulnerable people to see if people need support or not. Where phone calls fail to make contact, welfare visits are made to homes by officers or councillors. Feedback from callers and households visited has been very positive as the support being offered is being well received.
Help is also available from Citizens Advice at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ and Mindline’s emotional support line 01823 276892. Health Connections Mendip’s directory of local community and health support groups can be found here.
Mendip District Council is providing significant support to hundreds of households in the district through Council Tax reductions, to ease the financial burden on residents who are in most need and unable to go to work due to the coronavirus-related restrictions – see here.
Over 1000 Mendip businesses have received £14 million in grants – if your business needs help please see here to check for your eligibility and apply for a grant. Please send any queries to email@example.com.
Please let me know if you are aware of any businesses where there are risks of redundancies and I will feed back to councils’ economic support teams.
Mendip’s information on how services have been affected, on the financial help available, homelessness, and advice for businesses and employers, can all be found here and Mendip’s phone number for advice is 0300 303 8588. Somerset County Council’s information and advice is found here and please see here for Frome Town Council news.
Additional PPE has been procured and distributed to care homes and home care providers by Somerset County Council’s Health & Social Care team. Please report issues here or let me know if you are aware of any needs that are not currently being met.
There are opportunities to volunteer to help other people through local support groups. In Frome, Frome Town Council is supporting services to help people in isolation and encouraging people to help with Emergency Food Parcels and bespoke shopping for isolated people. If you have a local query or need help please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01373 465757. Anyone who would like to help others in Frome can join the Frome volunteer register at www.bit.ly/Frome-Covid-Help.
The Fair Frome foodbank is asking for food donations and funds to buy food as the need to support people is increasing – a fundraising page has been set up here. For up to date information please call 01373 488578 or email email@example.com.
Active and In Touch continue to help people who are isolated and lonely, and are calling for more volunteers who have been DBS checked to help with phone calls to elderly members who are having to self isolate. They are happy to help elderly people who are now more isolated – please see here, call 07539795261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council meetings resume online
Recent legislation has allowed Councils to hold meetings online in order to make decisions in an open and accountable way. Mendip District Council held its first online meetings of the Planning Board and Cabinet recently, with all councillors and officers working from home – click on the links below to see the agenda reports and watch the videos of councillors at the meetings, it’s quite different from before! Somerset County Council’s meetings can be accessed here. I also list the district and town council meetings over the next few weeks below which will all be streamed online:
And finally… still wild about Frome?
Last year Frome Town Council launched the Wild About Frome project to manage some open spaces differently to encourage more biodiversity and wildlife to thrive. Currently all our councils have not been able to cut the grass so much, so even more areas have been allowed to grow a little wilder. The Town Council is keen to hear your feedback and any suggestions for areas you would like to see left wilder in the future. Please see here – and do let me know too.
An updated list of links to all the local advice, services and helplines is here.
Please get in touch if you need any support or have any questions. Drew and I are here to help.
Adam Boyden with Cllr Drew Gardner,
Mendip District Councillors for Frome College ward
Adam – 07809284817, email email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew – email email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org