by adamboyden on 25 September, 2020
Coronavirus: what you can and can’t do
Government advice and the law governing what you can and cannot do was updated most recently on 22nd September to include a new ‘rule of six’ for social gatherings (outdoors or indoors). Please see general guidance here and the updated rules for dos and don’ts here.
Somerset Coronavirus cases increase
“If you do start to show symptoms, however mild, please self-isolate immediately and book a test online at http://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or phone 119. Please keep trying throughout the day if local test slots aren’t available. And please don’t book a test unless you are showing symptoms.”
If you need any help while staying at home, you can phone the Somerset Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275.
Mendip District Council’s advice is here, including on how services have been affected and the financial help available. Somerset County Council is leading public health efforts in the county and their advice is found here. Frome Town Council offers local advice and support here. Please see Citizens Advice here, Mindline’s emotional support line 01823 276892, and Health Connections Mendip’s directory of local community and health support groups here.
Covid-19 testing station at the Old Showfield
A Covid-19 mobile testing unit has been set up in Frome in the car park next to the Cricket Club at the Old Showfield. Testing started on Wednesday 23rd September and it should be there for six weeks. Please see here for details and the restrictions to public access.
Old Showfield outdoor gym being deep cleaned
The outdoor gym at the Old Showfield is being deep cleaned and disinfected by Frome Town Council after someone using it had a positive Covid-19 test – please see here. The Town Council also reiterated the advice that anyone using the equipment to make sure they sanitise their hands before and after doing so.
Stronger Somerset endorsed by District Councils
At a special meeting of Full Council on 10th September, Mendip District Councillors endorsed the ‘Stronger Somerset’ joint proposal put forward by Somerset’s district councils.
‘Stronger Somerset’ would see the creation of two new unitary councils – East and West, together with a Children’s Trust and a Combined Authority for Somerset, and a bigger role for parish councils (incl. Frome Town Council) through Locality Agreements to devolve assets and services. ‘Stronger Somerset’ is a rival bid to the County Council’s ‘One Somerset’ proposal that would see one unitary authority based in Taunton. The Government have made it clear that they want a unitary solution for Somerset to replace the county and four district councils, and a unitary council covering the area of Mendip and South Somerset (with another for western Somerset) should be more responsive to local needs than a single unitary. The districts were expected to receive a formal invitation by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to submit the proposal in the coming weeks. Please see here and here for more.
Frome town centre reopening delayed
Frome Town Council’s improvements to the Market Place in the town centre have been delayed further, and the road is now expected to reopen on Friday 2nd October – please see here.
Selwood Garden Community consultation on major development south of Frome
Plans for a major ‘strategic-scale mixed-use development’ to the south of Frome, now known as the Selwood Garden Community are moving forward. Land Value Alliances and a consortium of landowners have launched an online consultation on their latest proposals, which will be live from Friday 25th September to Friday 16th October 2020. This follows the ‘initial vision’ consultation in December 2019, which led to further assessment and design work. The consultation is at https://selwoodgardencommunity.com/.
The site is not allocated for development in Mendip’s Local Plan. The current proposals comprise ‘around 1,700 new homes (including 30% affordable dwellings), employment land, a local centre and other social and physical infrastructure’ and a potential solar farm to generate renewable energy to power the new homes. This will be the last opportunity to review the proposals before a planning application is submitted, possibly in for late Autumn 2020. The proposals will be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment. A printed version of the proposals can also be viewed by appointment at Rook Lane Chapel – see here.
Mendip’s Community Weeding pilot in Frome delayed
Mendip District Council has reviewed the new Covid-19 regulations provided by the Government, in particular the ‘rule of six’ which prohibits members of the public from gathering in numbers. As a result the Council has “regretfully concluded that the safe and responsible action to take is to postpone” the Community Weeding event that was due to take place in Frome on Saturday 26th September. The scheme was announced here. Councillor Shane Collins would like to hear from people ASAP if you would like to be party to any information about locally-led schemes, whilst the Mendip District Council scheme is currently suspended. You can contact Shane directly by email to email@example.com
Frome Half Marathon cancelled this year
The 2020 Frome Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and fun run (which was to be held on 27th September along the usual route along Berkley Road, Forest Road, Stonebridge Drive, Brunel Way and Clink) has now been cancelled due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions. The next event is scheduled on Sunday 18th July 2021. Please see here.
Talking rubbish (and recycling more) with Somerset Waste Partnership
As noted in my Summer newsletter, there are changes coming to our recycling and refuse collections from the end of October, as part of the rollout Somerset Waste Partnership’s Recycle More service. More items will be collected for recycling from the kerbside – plastic pots, tubs and trays; food and drink cartons; small household batteries; and small electrical items. With so much more recycled each week, rubbish will be collected every three weeks. Extra advice and support will be available for families using nappies and similar hygiene products. By now every household should have had a leaflet about it (see here). Full details of the new collections, and a new plastics recycling bag, will be sent to every household before the new service starts.
So people could ask questions and find out more about the new arrangements in advance, Mendip District Councillor Barry O’Leary organised a Zoom meeting with Somerset Waste Partnership to talk about the changes – and you can see a video of that here. Please don’t forget to check you have enough recycling boxes, and if you need more, you can order them here.
Please note that Recycling Centre opening hours change to winter hours on 1st October – please see here.
There was an increase in flytipping seen in Mendip in the first three months of lockdown earlier this year (see here). I have reported the recent increased incidence of flytipping on Gypsy Lane and Berkley Lane just outside Frome to Mendip officers and am discussing the way forward for that area with other councillors. If you see any flytipping locally please report it on the form here or call 0300 303 8588 to make a report.
Frome Town Council news
Frome Town Council’s latest news can be found here, including updates from meetings, the Mayor’s column, and news on Window Wonderland, Frome Neighbourhood Networks, and here for updates on the Market Place improvements and Litter Warriors, and here for the School Streets extended consultation.
There is a need for new volunteer drivers for Frome Community Drivers – please see here if you can help take people to medical appointments and shopping trips.
Homelessness and rough sleepers
Mendip District Council’s housing team work to prioritise preventing homelessness, so if you or anyone you know is at risk of being homeless please contact the Housing Options team (see here).
If you see or know of anyone who is sleeping rough, please do refer them to Streetlink so that the Council’s outreach team (Elim Connect) can establish contact and work with them – see here.
Green Homes Grants to cut carbon and energy bills
The Green Homes Grant scheme, due to go live in September, will allow Mendip homeowners and landlords to apply for vouchers of up to £5000 for energy saving home improvements such as home insulation, low-carbon heating, draught proofing, windows and doors, and heating controls. The Government will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of works, which could help save up to £600 a year on energy bills. Low income households will be eligible for up to 100% government funding up to £10,000. Mendip District Council is encouraging local tradespeople to register for accreditation to be able to carry out works. Please see here for details.
Rewilding and grass cutting
Drew and I have been assured that Mendip District Council will be consulting and engaging our local community on the management of its green open spaces before the Spring, after some residents raised concerns about the lack of grass cutting in their areas due to the new policy of ‘rewilding’ certain areas this year for ecological reasons (see here). I will keep you all informed when this starts.
North Parade car park
Mendip District Council has issued a new statement on the North Parade car park, where a travellers camp has grown in the last few weeks – please see here.
Mendip funding and support for businesses and residents
Mendip District Council’s Covid-19 spending has topped £57 million, delivering thousands of Government grants to businesses, and in support of working age Council Tax payers in receipt of Council Tax Support, but funding received by Government does not cover all Mendip’s costs. Please see here for more.
Mendip District Council news and meetings
There was a limited reopening of MDC’s offices in Shepton Mallet earlier this week – see here. MDC’s latest news can be found here. Mendip council meetings have continued in a virtual online form during the pandemic.
September’s Cabinet meeting (here) considered:
A joint meeting of the Scrutiny Board and Cabinet on Monday 28th September will consider the Five Councils Corporate Service Contract in a confidential session.
The next Full Council meeting on Wednesday 30th September (see here) will consider committee memberships and a progress report on the council’s actions to address the climate and ecological emergencies (here).
Update: At Full Council I was confirmed as a member of Scrutiny Board, Audit Committee and the Climate and Ecological Emergency Group (CEEG).
Mendip District Council and councillors have also been a major part of the Glastonbury Town Deal team, which has just won £500,000 funding from the Government to kickstart projects that benefit the town – please see here.
Lib Dems gain majority on Mendip Council after councillor re-joins party
I am very pleased that former Mayor of Frome, Councillor Helen Sprawson-White (Frome Oakfield ward, and current Chair of Mendip), has rejoined the Liberal Democrats, as she explains here. As there are now 24 Lib Dem councillors on Mendip District Council out of 47 (with 11 Conservative, 10 Green, one Independent and one non-aligned councillors), the party now has a majority on the council for the first time. Since the 2019 local elections, former independent Edric Hobbs (Shepton East) joined the Lib Dems in June 2020 (see here) and former independent Bente Height (Shepton East) rejoined the Conservatives in July.
New Lib Dem leader and deputy leader
The Liberal Democrats have a new Leader and Deputy Leader. Former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey MP was elected leader by 63.5% of the members vote in August (see here). Rising star Daisy Cooper (MP for St Albans) was then unanimously elected Deputy Leader by Lib Dem MPs (see here). On his election, Ed Davey promised to listen to people’s concerns, whoever people voted for. You can read his speech here.
Lib Dem Annual Conference begins
The Liberal Democrat online Annual Conference begins today and you can register and join in here. The four day conference has live Q&As with MPs and party figures, live debates on the big issues, fringe sessions with expert guest speakers on a huge range of topics, and an opportunity to meet other delegates and get training on how to campaign for change.
This evening members attending the Liberal Democrat Conference voted to campaign for a Universal Basic Income scheme – please see here, and to support a package to improve mental health support for health and care workers – see here.
Please let me know if there are any questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Drew – email firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com