01 May 2022Polls open in just one week

Voters in Somerset will be heading for the polls in just a week’s time – and will be able to cast their vote for two candidates in the County Council election on 5 May.

This year’s election is different as 110 councillors will be elected – two in each of the 55 divisions – as Somerset prepares for the biggest change in local government in decades.

For their first year, the councillors will take responsibility for all current County Council services and oversee the local government reorganisation to establish a single unitary council on 1 April 2023. District councils will remain until 31 March 2023 and the councillors serving on them will continue in their roles until that date. 

From 1 April 2023, the 110 councillors of the unitary council will be responsible for services that are currently delivered by the county and four district councils, ranging from adults and children’s social care to highways and housing, and from libraries to planning and licensing.

So, it is crucial that people in Somerset use their two votes to elect those who will represent them for the next five years.

Polling stations will be open from 7am-10pm – it is easy to check which polling station to use by entering your postcode on this website: https://wheredoivote.co.uk/

Voters who have opted to vote by post must return their postal ballot pack by 10pm on 5 May -  they can hand it in at their allocated polling station if they have not got time to return it by post.

A spokesperson for Somerset County Council said: “There’s only a week to go before polling day and we whole-heartedly encourage everyone who is registered to vote to come out on 5 May and exercise their democratic right.

“This is the chance to help decide who represents your community in a new council that will be responsible for services that have an impact on everyone’s day-to-day lives.”

You can follow the election results as they are announced during the day on 6 May by following Somerset County Council’s twitter account @SomersetCouncil and #SomersetVotes. Results will also be updated on the County Council’s website: www.somerset.gov.uk

01 May 2022Notice of Poll and situation of polling stations - Brent Division

01 May 2022Changes to Somerset Dental Helpline

From Friday 29 April people living in Somerset, who are not registered with a dental practice, should call NHS 111 if they need urgent treatment or advice.

Following an initial call with a call handler, the person may be put through to a dental nurse who will advise on next steps. This could range from general self-care advice to an urgent appointment being booked within 48 hours.

People should call 111 if they are suffering with severe dental pain that cannot be controlled with over the counter medication or have a dental or soft tissue infection.

Welcoming the news, Dr Peter Wilson, Commissioning Medical Director at NHS England and NHS Improvement South West, said:

“The new service will benefit the people of Somerset and supports the process of accessing urgent dental treatment.

“With the introduction of a dental nurse people can feel confident they are receiving advice from a healthcare professional in that field.”

The new helpline will be operated by Smile Dental Triage Ltd, a clinically led specialist in dental triage, who have provided a high-quality service for more than 15 years.

The new service will operate from 8am until 10pm, 365 days a year.

The old helpline number will no longer be in use from 8pm Thursday 28 April. A voice message will ask anyone who calls to redial NHS 111.

01 May 2022Young and old to live together, as new Homeshare scheme launched in Somerset

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Home share scheme matching homeowners in need of support with people looking for affordable accommodation has been launched in Somerset. 

The scheme is managed by Supportmatch Homeshare, and sees an older or disabled homeowner provide a room in their house in exchange for 10-15 hours support per week.   

Home sharers could provide help around the house such as cooking, cleaning, basic DIY, and help with using technology, as well as companionship, support, and overnight security and presence.

The scheme helps older and disabled people to continue living independently in their own home, and helps young professionals and students find affordable accommodation in a safe and secure home. Both parties enjoy significant savings, with the homeowner saving money on support, and the homesharer finding accommodation which is considerably cheaper than equivalent rental properties. 

The scheme has been run successfully in other parts of the UK, with service users reporting benefits ranging from companionship, saving money, and improved quality of life. 

Zaira de Novellis, Managing Director of Supportmatch Homeshare said: “Due to the ongoing housing crisis in many locations across the UK, the majority of our Homesharers are now aged between 26-35 (67%), including young professionals, university students as well as public sector workers, all of who need affordable accommodation and a place to call home.

“There has also been an increased interest in individuals aged 50-60+ looking to become a Homesharer who have similarly been impacted by lack of affordable housing, or simply because they value companionship.

“As a Homeshare service provider, we have worked extremely hard to ensure older people are aware of Homeshare as an option for help and a friendly face around the house, which has led to a 41% increase in the number of Householders wanting to Homeshare at the end of December last year”.

Mel Lock, Somerset County Council’s Director for Adult Social Care said:

“Somerset residents and national research tell me that most older and disabled people want to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible. Likewise, we know many younger people are struggling with rising rental costs and property prices. Supportmatch Homeshare solves both of these problems, enabling homeowners to get the support they need to remain in their own home, and helping homesharers find low-cost accommodation.” 

Those interested in the scheme – whether homeowners or prospective homesharers – can find out more by visiting: https://supportmatch.co.uk/   

To apply, visit:

Application form for householders: https://supportmatch.co.uk/householder-application/   

Application form for homesharers: https://supportmatch.co.uk/homesharer-application/   

Contact via email - info@supportmatch.co.uk  

Contact via telephone 0203 6336066

Kick start your career in social care - visit: www.proudtocaresomerset.org.uk/jobs

Care providers looking to recruit can upload their vacancies via: https://services.somerset.gov.uk/proud-to-care-new-role

25 April 2022Grants available for communities to help prevent crime

A brand new fund has been launched in partnership between the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) and Quartet Community Foundation (QCF).

The Commissioner’s Crime Prevention Fund will support community projects and activities that help to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.

Community groups and charities can now apply for grants (money that does not need to be paid back) of between £1,000 to £5,000 from the Commissioner's Crime Prevention Fund to help create safer communities in our area.

Justin Sargent, Chief Executive at Somerset Community Foundation said: “We’re delighted to be working alongside our neighbours at Quartet Community Foundation, and our partners at the OPCC. The money from the Commissioner's Crime Prevention Fund will be targeted at supporting work that helps prevent, and reduces the impact of, crime in our communities.

“We want to fund a wide range of community-led projects including creating safer streets and green spaces, raising awareness among young people, and the promotion of restorative justice.”

Mark Shelford, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner said of the fund: “I am delighted that my office, SCF and QCF have set up this important Crime Prevention fund to help create safer communities.

“Local residents know their neighbourhoods better than anyone and we want to help communities prevent crime in their area. We want to support a real range of projects that help prevent crime as outlined in my Police and Crime Plan. So, if you, your neighbours or your community have ideas, initiatives or projects that does just this, please apply for a grant so local people can benefit from reduced crime. I look forward to supporting and visiting these projects – start applying.”

A total of £200,000 is available from the fund and Somerset’s allocation is expected to be around £60,000.  There will be three opportunities to apply across the year. Groups based in Somerset should apply for a grant by visiting Somerset Community Foundation’s website, here: www.somersetcf.org.uk/opcc or by calling 01749 344949 before the deadline of Friday 27 May, 2022.

Any groups based in BANES, Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire should apply to QCF: www.quartetcf.org.uk/grant-programmes/oppc

Somerset Community Foundation is a charity that helps passionate people in Somerset change the world on their doorstep by funding local charities and inspiring local giving and philanthropy. They aim to build stronger communities in Somerset where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. They provide rewarding and impactful ways for donors to give through them, to the causes and places they care about most. Together, they fund amazing organisations and the passionate people that change lives every day.

Since SCF were founded in 2002 they’ve awarded more than £17 million in funding, changing thousands of lives across Somerset.

25 April 2022Two vacancies on Brean Parish Council

As a result of a non contested election in Brean, there are now two vacancies for eligible residents to apply for.  To be eligible for co-option to the parish council you must either have been registered as an elector in the parish; and resided in the parish or within 3 miles of it for the last 12 months OR occupied as an owner or tenant land or premises within the parish over the last 12 months OR have your principle place of work within the parish.

For an application form, please email the clerk at clerk@breanparishcouncil.orgClosing date for receipt of applications is 31st May 2022.

12 April 2022Statement of Persons Nominated - Brean Parish Council

05 April 2022Sedgemoor’s resorts

The beach wardens on Sedgemoor’s beaches return on Monday 28 and Tuesday 29th March for two days refresher training – and will be ready to welcome visitors from Thursday 7th April in good time for the Easter holidays and ahead of the summer season.

The wardens are stationed at Burnham-on-Sea, Berrow and Brean beaches, supervising beach activities, providing basic first aid, collecting car parking fees, giving out beach safety and advice, and checking jetty permits.   During the high season, they are joined by RNLI lifeguards.

The beach warden will be on duty between the hours of 10:00am and 6:00pm Monday - Friday, and 9.00am – 6.00pm weekends, bank holidays and half terms, taking into account tidal conditions.

The toilets at Burnham-on-Sea are being renovated and temporary toilets have been opened whilst the work is undertaken; the toilets at Brean will be open as soon as the wardens return.

SDC is pleased to announce that it is now possible to apply for a seasonal parking permit for use on both Berrow and Brean Beach online in advance of your visit.

Jetty permit  

Beach Parking Permit for Berrow and Brean beaches -

 

05 April 2022Poll cards arriving

Polling cards for the forthcoming election for Sedgemoor’s town and parish councils and the new Somerset Council on Thursday, May 5th will be arriving on Sedgemoor doormats over the next few days.  Sedgemoor residents are being advised to check their poll card to make sure that they know which polling station they need to use on Thursday, May 5th as some locations have changed.   You can check where your polling station is on-line at wheredoivote.co.uk

If you don’t receive a poll card, you may not be registered to vote.  This needs to be done by Thursday, April 14th to make sure that you can have your say at the ballot box.  The easiest way to register is by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

There are a number of ways to have your say in the elections in May - you can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf, which is known as a proxy vote and it is never too early to apply for a postal or proxy vote.  Many people are looking forward to taking a holiday or may be away from home on 5th May, so make sure that you can still have your say.  If you’re thinking about voting by post, you can apply now, the deadline for postal applications is 1700 hrs on April 19th.  The deadline for proxy votes is 1700 hrs on 26th April.

If you have any queries regarding your right to vote, please contact a member of the Elections Team by emailing electoral.services@sedgemoor.gov.uk or by calling 0300 303 7800.

05 April 2022Beware of Council Tax scammers

With the news that government is giving £150 rebate to help with the cost of living, comes the inevitable scammers.   Sedgemoor Digital have received several calls to say that they have been called and residents asked to give their bank details to receive the rebate.  This is a scam.

The energy rebate scheme was announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help people with rising energy bills. This includes those who already receive assistance in paying some or all of their council bill through local council tax support.

All eligible households in England in council tax bands A to D, should get the £150 payment from their District Council from April this year.   If residents pay their council tax by direct debit, they will automatically get the rebate payment into their bank account without needing to take any action.

For the 16,000 or so households in Sedgemoor who do not currently pay their council tax through direct debit; getting the rebate money to them will take longer as they will need to go through a claims process.

To set up a council tax direct debit, please call SDC on 0300 303 7800, or go to www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/counciltaxaccount .

Council Tax bands are set by the Valuation Office Agency and can only be changed under certain conditions. Details can be found at www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals.   If you think your band is wrong, contact the Valuation Office Agency - you will not be charged for the service.

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill and need help, speak with a member of the Council Tax Team on who will be able to offer help and advice on 0300 303 7801.

If you have given over personal details, we would advise you to call the Police straight away on 101 and report the matter as an identity theft scam. The Police will also direct you to the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.

11 March 2022 Call for voters in Sedgemoor to register in time for elections this May

With local elections for the new unitary council in Somerset and town and parish councils taking place in May, voters in Sedgemoor are being reminded to make sure they are registered to vote and are able to take part on polling day, Thursday 5 May.   It’s quick and easy to register to vote, but after the deadline of 14 April, it will be too late.

The call for voters to sign up comes to encourage as many people as possible to register ahead of elections taking place this year across the Somerset.  Work to prepare for the biggest local elections Somerset has seen for a long time is well underway.

Research shows that young people, students and recent home movers are particularly less likely to be registered to vote. So, if you have moved house recently, then make sure you’re registered correctly. If you’re not registered, you won’t be able to have your say on issues that directly affect your day-to-day life in Somerset. These crucial elections are for the councillors at county level who will oversee the transition to a new unitary council, which they will then lead to deliver all the promises and ambitions of the unitary business case.  The city, town and parish councillors elected have a vital role too, ushering in a new era of community empowerment. They will be pioneers, drawing on an array of new opportunities, driving real change locally.

 To register to vote, visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote before midnight on Thursday, 14th April or contact electoral.services@sedgemoor.gov.uk. 

11 March 2022Be a champion for your community

The clock is ticking down on the deadline for candidates to come forward if they want to stand for election in Somerset in May.

There are just around five weeks to go before nominations close for those interested in standing as one of Somerset’s community champions at county or local level.

These are crucial elections for Somerset with the creation of a new, unitary council in April 2023 – the first major change to the way the county is governed in almost 50 years. New councillors will build a new and very different kind of local government, that will shape the county for decades.

New councillors will have more power to drive the changes people want, whether standing for their county, or more locally in city, town, and parish council elections.

Councillors are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. They can make sure that decisions being made meet the needs of the people of Somerset. They will be the voice of their community helping to shape and direct local services. People from all walks of life can bring something special to their council, whether it’s at a county level or hyper-local.

City, town, and parish councils will – if they wish – play a bigger part in making sure that Somerset’s services are the best they can be. More powers will be devolved, and grass roots councils will be given the chance to take on greater responsibilities.

Nominations can be submitted to the appropriate District Council office from 22 March and close at 4pm on 5 April for the elections taking place on 5 May at county, city, town, and parish council levels. For the county, 110 councillors will be elected who will serve a five-year term.

For their first year, the councillors will take responsibility for all current County Council services and oversee the local government reorganisation to establish a single unitary council on 1 April 2023.

District councils will remain until 31 March 2023 and the councillors serving on them will continue in their roles until that date. 

From 1 April 2023, the 110 councillors of the unitary council will be responsible for services that are currently delivered by the county and four district councils, ranging from adults and children’s social care to highways and housing, and from libraries to planning and licensing.

City, town, and parish council elections also take place on 5 May, offering the chance for people to stand up for their community right at the grass roots. They too will serve a five-year term.

If you are interested in standing for election, at county or city, town, and parish level you can find out more here:

https://www.somerset.gov.uk/how-the-council-works/elections/

https://www.local.gov.uk/be-councillor

https://www.nalc.gov.uk/our-work/local-elections

25 February 2022Not too late to apply for energy improvement funds

Is your household income less than £30,000; or does anyone living in your property receive a means-tested benefit or does your home have an Energy Performance Rating of D, E, F or G?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, you could be eligible for up to £10,000 of funding towards insulations, solar panels or other green heating products.    Find out more on find more information on the scheme: Somerset Independence Plus - Green Homes Grants Scheme.  Applications for the scheme close at the end of March 2022, so don’t delay. 

However, residents are reminded to be wary of phone call or someone at your front door offering ‘free services’ for free solar panels and free cavity wall insulation, offering no cost deals and energy pay-back deals on energy generated by the panels.

Whilst many of the companies are legitimate and can offer financial assistance (depending on your circumstances), it is always worth just checking with Centre for Sustainable Energy on their advice line number 0800 082 2234 as, unfortunately, there are also some companies who are less than reputable.

25 February 2022Opportunity Boost Scheme to open doors to employment

A new grant has been launched to help people in Somerset overcome financial barriers when seeking employment and returning to work.

The Opportunity Boost Scheme will provide grants worth up to £500 to help with the cost associated progressing into work, such as transport costs, childcare, work clothes, learning resources and training courses.

The funding for the scheme has been provided through the Somerset Recovery Fund, and the initiative is being delivered in partnership between Somerset County Council and Citizens Advice Somerset.

To qualify, applicants must live in Somerset, be aged 16 or over, not be entitled to any other financial assistance for job seeking, and had a pre-Covid salary of less than £25,000.

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “Somerset County Council has developed a number of initiatives to help the county’s economy recover from the impacts of the Covid pandemic.

“We are offering a wide range of support to businesses, but also want to make sure good potential employees are not missing out on job roles or returning to work due to financial barriers.

“The Opportunity Boost Scheme is a welcome initiative as part of our wider strategy to help Somerset’s economy move forward and prosper.”

Applications are now live and will close on Friday, March 25. To apply, visit Somerset Recovery Fund, Opportunity Boost Scheme project, Now Open. – Citizens Advice West Somerset (westsomersetadvice.org.uk)

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