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County Council Report, Curry Rivel and Langport Division

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mike stantonrichard wilkins

County Council Report – Curry Rivel and Langport Division

Cllr Mike Stanton & Cllr Richard Wilkins

1st DECEMBER 2022

Hanging Chapel

Since the damage to our historic Grade 1 listed building caused by a lorry strike, we have been working with County Highways, Langport town council, Huish Episcopi Parish council and the Landmark Langport to help prevent this happening again.

A two-stage scheme has been put forward with Stage 1 agreed with Highways. This will replace the bollards in the chapel and change some of the signage to make it clearer that lorries and large vehicles are prohibited. The Lorry Watch Scheme run by Langport TC will help provide useful data.

Landmark Langport AGM

The Trustees held their AGM on 28th November: they look after The Hanging Chapel, Langport Town Hall, Walter Bagehot Gardens and the Ridgway Hall.

With the Chair and Treasurer stepping down, they are looking for more Trustees: if you have a passion for historic buildings or are interested in helping contact: admin@landmarklangport.org.uk

Lowest income households to pay no Council Tax under new Somerset Council proposals.

Fifty percent discount for foster carers; empty homes to be charged a premium

A new, unified Council Tax Reduction Scheme targeting help at people on low incomes, care leavers and foster carers is planned from 1 April 2023 when the new Somerset Council comes into being. It will be simpler & fairer, & means that the lowest income households will pay no Council Tax.

A single person with an income below £95 a week, or a couple with two children on a weekly income below £260, would be entitled to the full 100% council tax reduction. However, some families with an income below £500 a week could also be eligible for some support.

Care leavers up to the age of 25 will continue to be exempt from Council Tax and an entirely new measure, not currently offered by any of the district councils, will give Somerset County Council registered foster carers and qualifying Special Guardians a 50% reduction.

Certain benefits for people with disabilities, war pensioners, families in receipt of child benefit/maintenance and carers will not be considered when income is assessed. The scheme for pension age applicants is set by Government and will continue unchanged.

The Council also agreed fairer – higher – charges for second homes and empty properties, aimed at bringing empty homes back into use. There will be no discounts for second homes or empty homes while long-term empty properties will attract premiums.

The Council has also developed a new Business Rate Discretionary Relief scheme which aligns the different approaches currently in operation across the four districts into a single scheme.

Somerset – make sure you get your winter vaccinations

If you're 50 and over, a frontline health or social care worker, pregnant, have a long-term health condition, or are a paid or unpaid carer, you are eligible for the free flu vaccine, and you can likely get the Covid-19 seasonal booster. Children aged 2-15 years old are also eligible for free flu vaccination, which is delivered through either their GP for pre-school and school for school age children – parents need to sign a consent form.

If you are eligible, you can book your seasonal Covid-19 vaccine using:

  • the online booking service
  • by calling 119
  • or finding a local vaccination walk-in site

A number of clinics across Somerset are also open for walk-ins. More details can be found at https://nhssomerset.nhs.uk/covid-and-flu-vaccines/

Could you be a Stepping Stones carer?

Somerset County Council is highlighting the need to recruit more 'Stepping Stones' carers to support young care leavers. Stepping Stones carers support young care leavers aged 16-21, who are making the transition from care to independent living, but are not yet ready to live on their own.

Stepping Stones carers need to be aged 23 or over, have a spare room in their home, and ideally live in a town or area with good transport links, as it's important for our care leavers to have access to amenities and opportunities.

In return, Stepping Stones carers receive a weekly fee, starting at £189.31 plus a little extra for food and utilities (up to £27.50) paid by the young person from their weekly allowance.

To find out more about how you could change a child's story as a Stepping Stones carer, visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900.

iAero flying high

It opened with a spectacular lift-off and now Somerset's Aerospace Innovation Centre – iAero – is flying high with tenants in, significant interest from industry leaders, & new collaborative equipment being installed.

The purpose-built centre, based in Yeovil, is a regional hub for research, design and innovation; it was delivered in partnership between Somerset County Council (SCC), the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Leonardo UK, with funding from HM Government and the EU.

The centre was built to support the competitiveness and growth of the aerospace sector and associated high-value design and engineering technology supply chains – all vital to the South West's economy.

Since opening its doors, the centre has had a constant buzz of activity, with events including a West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) breakfast networking event; Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Innovator Workshop; Leonardo Graduate development workshops; and a Royal Aeronautical Society (South West Region) Lecture by Vertical Aerospace.

The Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce and Somerset Chamber have visited, while a visit by a delegation from the Department for International Trade is planned later in November. 3D printing open days are also in the pipeline.

The strategic partners' summit brought together Somerset County Councillor David Woan, Associate Lead Member for Economic Development & Inward Investment, Paula Hewitt, SCC's Director for Economic and Community Infrastructure; Adam Clarke, Managing Director at Leonardo Helicopter UK; Karl Tucker, Chair of the LEP; and David Ralph, LEP Chief Executive.

£300k boost for Somerset tree planting plans

Ambitious plans to plant thousands of new trees in Somerset have received a £300,000 funding boost. Planting significant numbers of new trees is a key part of Somerset's Climate Emergency Strategy to help the county achieve its ambition of becoming net zero by 2030.

Somerset County Council is pleased to announce it has been successful in a joint funding bid with the Exmoor National Park Authority to the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund (WCAF) & has been awarded £300,000 – the maximum amount possible. The funding will be used to fund a new Tree Project Officer, a Community Empowerment Officer, & a Technical Officer over a three-year period.

They will help accelerate the delivery of tree planting in the winter seasons 2023/24 and 2024/25 and deliver on the actions set out in the Somerset Tree Strategy that is nearing completion.

This latest funding builds on previous success that saw Somerset awarded £189,975 in 2021 from the Local Authority Treescapes Fund. This has funded the planting of 800 standard trees and 2,500 whips through the combined efforts of Somerset County Council, Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West & Taunton Council, and South Somerset District Council.

For more information on work to mitigate the impacts of climate change in Somerset, visit: https://www.somerset.gov.uk/climate-emergency/

Hundreds sign up to help shape council services

Since launching in August, more than 300 people have stepped forward – with members already providing valuable feedback on important work like the development of a new council brand.

No special skills are required to join the panel, all you need is willingness to take part in three research topics each year & provide honest & constructive feedback. Panel members will have the chance to take part in online surveys, one-to-one interviews, usability tests and discussion groups.

You can get involved in a number of different ways: find out more via our website or register by calling 0300 123 2224.

Have your say on Somerset's SEND strategy

Members of the public in Somerset are invited to have their say on a new draft strategy for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).

The Somerset SEND Partnership, which includes Somerset County Council, NHS Somerset, Somerset Parent Carer Forum and local education providers, have launched a consultation for the public to feedback on their updated SEND Strategy.

The strategy was shaped by extensive engagement with children, young people and families and sets out how services will be delivered and led over the next three years (2023-26).

The Somerset SEND Partnership have four key themes which outline their plan for SEND services, these are:

  • Working together
  • Getting help as early as possible
  • Access to the right support and provision
  • Preparing for the future

The consultation is open and will close on Friday 23 December. To read the strategy and provide feedback visit: https://somerset.inconsult.uk/SENDstrategy/consultationHome

After the consultation closes, the Somerset SEND Partnership will review all feedback and use this to update the strategy. The final strategy will be published in Spring 2023.

PREPARING FOR WINTER FLOODING – GUIDANCE FOR RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES

While drought conditions may have dominated headlines this year the focus is back on flooding preparedness as we head into the winter months.

Somerset councils have combined to offer the following advice and guidance to help residents and businesses reduce the impacts of flooding. We hope this can assist you when you are dealing with peoples' concerns and queries over the coming months.

Please feel free to share the information widely.

What can I do?

Thinking ahead and preparing for what the weather may bring especially at this time of year can make a real difference in your home, business and community. One of the first things is to check is whether your property is at risk of flooding.We also recommend taking precautionary measures and purchasing your own sandbags in case of flooding emergencies.

What to do during a flood

There is information to help you on what to do during a flood on the Somerset Prepared website: https://www.somersetprepared.org.uk/hazard-advice/flooding/. The key point is to always stay safe, in an immediate flood emergency or where there is a risk to life, follow the advice of the emergency services.

Protect yourself from future flooding

It is advisable to plan how you'll respond to a flood. Information and plans are available to help you plan ahead. We also encourage you to download the 'Prepare. Act. Survive.' flood plan to help reduce the impact of flooding.

You can find up to date information on flood warnings by visiting the flood warnings page on the Government's website.

Flooding and roads – Key Information

It's important to ensure drains and gullies are clear during the autumn and winter months – Somerset County Council as the Highways authority routinely inspects these but leaves and other debris can accumulate rapidly so members of the public have a key role to play.

If you spot a problem with a drain or gully, or any issue on the highway you can report it easily and quickly here – https://www.somerset.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/report-a-problem-on-the-road/
Heavy rain and flooding present a clear and present danger to drivers – road users are urged NOT to attempt to drive across flooded roads as it is not possible to estimate the depth of the water reliably.

A number of Somerset roads have flood gates in place to prevent access in the event of flooding – information can be found here – https://www.travelsomerset.co.uk/roadclosuregates/
It's vital to prepare for wet conditions if you have to travel and to proceed with extreme caution if you get caught in flood conditions – you can find information and advice here – https://somersetroadsafety.org/drivers/weather/

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