October newsletter

by adamboyden on 1 November, 2020

Hello everyone,

This is to keep you informed of what is going on locally and at Mendip:

Coronavirus: the Second Lockdown

On 31st October the Prime Minister announced that due to the recent and predicted rises in Covid-19 cases, England will go into national restrictions (‘lockdown 2’) on Thursday 5th November until 2nd December, if (as looks likely) the restrictions pass a parliamentary vote on Wednesday. Please see here for information on the new national restrictions, including what they mean and the financial support available. Your local councils will update their advice as soon as possible.

In mid-October, the Lib Dems as well as Labour called for a 2-week ‘circuit break’, after the advice from SAGE (in the meeting on 21st September) was published on 12th October. Boris Johnson then mocked the idea of a national lockdown as ‘disastrous’. Also, four in ten close contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus in England are still not being reached by Test and Trace. If the Government had followed SAGE’s advice in September, and improved the test and trace system, this longer lockdown could perhaps have been avoided.

There is a lot of help available

  • If you need medical help, please contact your registered GP practice or 111. Support can be accessed online at 111.nhs.uk or you can call 111 for free form your landline or phone.
  • If you need any help while staying at home, you can phone the Somerset Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275 (8am-6pm every day) to be connected to district and county support services.
  • 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 support here.
  • If you have issues with debt, please seek advice as soon as possible. Holy Trinity Church has recently opened a new Debt Counselling Centre in partnership with the UK debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Debt advice is also available from Citizens Advice nationally and here in Mendip (call 03444889623), and through the Money Advice Service and the StepChange debt charity.
  • Talking to someone can help. Mindline have an emotional support and mental health support line on 01823 276892 (open 24 hours a day), please see here. Affordable counselling is available from Focus Frome, and Wessex Counselling Services.
  • Health Connections Mendip also has a good directory of local community and health support groups here.

Support your local shops

2020 has been a hugely challenging year for local shops, and the second lockdown will mean that those deemed non-essential will need to close their doors again. In October, Fiver Fest (part of the national Totally Locally campaign), celebrated local businesses making a real contribution to our town. Spending in local shops can have a big impact, boosting the local economy. So please take a look at what’s on offer in Frome here. Local shops will need your help again now. Information on local services in Frome is available here.

Recycle More collections are on Monday mornings in Frome

This is a quick reminder that recycling collections are always on Monday mornings from now on in Frome, so please don’t forget to put your recycling bins, boxes and new plastics recycling bag out by 7am every Monday morning. The next refuse collection is on 16th November, every 3 weeks. Please order any more recycling boxes or the new bag if you have not received it, from SWP – details on SWP’s website. The start of Recycle More has been considered a success so far.

Why our MP is wrong about free school meals, and what you can do

Our Conservative MP recently voted against extending free school meals funding into the school holidays. I have looked into all the reasons he put forward to justify his vote, and there are a number of large holes in his arguments that I thought people should know about – please see here.

I also asked if he was concerned about the lack of scrutiny and good financial controls on contracts being let by Government in relation to PPE as is being revealed by the Good Law Project, and if he can support the moves by some MPs to donate their recently announced pay rises to local charities – see here.

Rodden Road closure for railway bridge repairs

The road under the rail bridge on Rodden Road will be closed from Monday November 2 until December 12 to enable bridge repairs and improvements on behalf of Network Rail. Please see here for details. The best alternative diversions are through the town centre or via Clink and the bypass.

Affordable and social housing programme

For the first time in over 16 years, Mendip District Council is working with partners to deliver new social and affordable housing, reflecting the Lib Dem administration’s corporate priorities to do so, to reduce inequality and deprivation. Subject to Cabinet approval, the first tranche of five sites (all owned by the Council) could deliver over 300 new homes for either social rent or shared ownership. The sites are Cemetery Lane (in Street), part of Cranhill Road Car Park (Street), Norbins Road Car Park (Glastonbury), Easthill (Frome), and North Parade Car Park (Frome) where a pilot scheme for modular housing is being considered at the back of the car park. A report to Cabinet on Monday 2nd November recommends progressing the programme at pace (see item 12 here).

Gym equipment firm expansion approved at Commerce Park

The expansion of the Watsons Gym Equipment factory at the Commerce Park was approved by Mendip District Council’s Planning Board on 21st October, subject to the agreement of a legal agreement for noise control. I spoke at the meeting to represent residents’ concerns about noise and the principle of building a General industrial and Storage building in what was previously agreed would be restricted to Business use – please see here.

Stronger Somerset bid moves forward

The Government recently made it clear they want Somerset’s district and county councils to be replaced by one or more ‘unitary’ councils that cover both county and district functions (like in Wiltshire, and Bath & NE Somerset). In the last few weeks Mendip and the other districts have overwhelmingly endorsed the ‘Stronger Somerset’ proposal which would see two new unitary councils created – East and West Somerset, with more support for local parish councils like Frome Town Council to take on a greater role. A new East Somerset Council (for the Mendip and South Somerset areas) should, we think, be much more responsive to local residents’ needs than a large ‘One Somerset’ unitary based in Taunton (proposed by the Conservative-run County Council). It is also about reforming (not just restructuring) local government, including through more preventative services to reduce problems before they occur. All of Somerset’s councils have received a formal invitation from the Government to submit their business cases for change in early November. The government will then decide in the next few months how our local government will be reformed. Please see here for the proposals and here for recent news.

Other Mendip news

  • Climate strategy: the Council will consider the Somerset Climate Strategy at the Cabinet meeting on 2nd November and the Full Council meeting on 9th November. This has already been scrutinised at Scrutiny Board in October.
  • Fuel poverty: Mendip’s Cabinet is to consider a report with recommendations on how the council can best work to reduce fuel poverty and improve home energy efficiency across the district, in line with its climate commitments.
  • Home energy efficiency grants and loans available: Mendip District Council is encouraging residents to check if they are eligible and apply now for financial assistance to help keep their home safer and warmer – please see here
  • Council issues Bonfire safety advice: Mendip has issued guidance on how to observe Covid restrictions this Halloween, and to stay safe on Bonfire Night – please see here.
  • Housing the homeless: Mendip welcomes new funding to help people sleeping rough.

Somerset County Council news:

  • SCC pledges to support families in school holidays
  • Survey: Have your say on how the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting on your life
  • Travel sensibly this winter, and find out which roads are being gritted by SCC

Frome Town Council news:

Any Questions?

Please let me know if there are any questions by email to aomboyden@gmail.com or cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk 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. 

Best wishes,

Adam Boyden with Cllr Drew Gardner,    
Mendip District Councillors for Frome College ward

Adam – email aomboyden@gmail.com cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk
Drew – email drewgardner@me.com / cllr.gardner@mendip.gov.uk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/somertonandfromeLD/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CllrAdamBoyden

   Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>