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Press Releases

Changes to the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation to be introduced in October

Changes in Government legislation will see the requirement to licence a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) widened to include two storey properties.

From Monday 1st October 2018, all privately rented properties which are occupied by five or more people who form two or more households will now require a licence.

Sedgemoor has several HMOs and it is expected that with the new Government regulations more properties are likely to be identified. Sedgemoor District Council is keen to work with landlords who own two storey properties to make the licensing process as easy as possible.

New regulations are also expected to be introduced that will bring in new mandatory conditions such as covering the minimum sizes of sleeping rooms, the maximum number of occupants permitted and the provision of refuse facilities.

A spokesman said, ‘Generally we have a good relationship with landlords in the district. In recognition of the importance of the sector, we are keen to work with landlords to ensure that the condition of the rented properties is up to standard and build a thriving, robust private rented market.

Licensing of HMO’s ensures that our Housing Standards Team are working with landlords of lower and higher risk properties. It also ensures that appropriate management arrangements have been made for the property.’

Landlords who believe that their property falls into the new licensing requirements are advised to contact the Housing Standards Team at Sedgemoor District Council by emailing [email protected]r.gov.uk or by calling 0300 303 7794 for advice.

An application form can be downloaded from our website at www.swpshp.org or you can request one on the above email and telephone number. Our website will also provide more information on the new licensing regime.

There are severe penalties for landlords who fail to licence with the Council including fines and possible prosecution.

Find out if highways improvements are planned at a road near you

A new webpage to help residents find out about planned maintenance on Somerset’s roads is now available.

Somerset County Council’s dedicated travel and roadworks website www.travelsomerset.co.uk already includes a live map showing details of current and future planned roadworks.

But previously this only included works when dates were confirmed.

The new webpage now allows people to view the structural maintenance programme for the current financial year, so people can find out if improvement works are planned in the near future. The exact dates and timings of work are added to the live map when they are finalised.

The works are split into categories – principal resurfacing (resurfacing on A class roads), non-principal resurfacing (resurfacing on minor class roads), footways (works on the pavement), drainage and earthworks – with lists of schemes and maps showing the locations. You can also find FAQs and definitions of each type of roadworks scheme.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We’ve worked hard to make it easier for people to find out what’s happening on our roads. We started by offering live travel alerts using Twitter and then created the Travel Somerset website to improve the quality and reliability of our roadworks information.

“This summer we’ve added our surface dressing and grass cutting programmes to the website and now you can see all the structural maintenance work we have planned for the next financial year.

“This is another welcome resource and we’ve got plans for more in the months to come.”

The new webpage can be found at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/structural-maintenance. Don’t forget, you can also use the site to find live travel information 24/7 and find details of all planned roadworks, including those carried out by third parties, like developers or utility companies.

Follow @TravelSomerset on Twitter for live traffic alerts and get in touch if you have any questions about travel, roadworks or the highways team in general.

Grants for health projects now available

Applications are now open for Sedgemoor District Council’s Community Health Fund, which has monies available to spend on health-focused projects across the district.

Community groups, registered charities, leisure centres, housing providers, activity clubs, children’s centres and workplaces amongst others are all being encouraged to come up with their own project ideas based on local health and well-being needs and then bid for up to £1,000 to support their project.

Projects must be focused around one or more of the following themes and must be sustainable and measurable

  • Physical Activity – increasing opportunities for, and levels of, physical activity within Sedgemoor communities
  • Healthy Eating – promotion of food growing, healthy eating, cooking skills, access to healthy foods
  • Weight Management- reducing levels of overweight/obesity within Sedgemoor communities
  • Promoting emotional and physical well-being through projects which address loneliness and isolation by engaging new people

Funding could be used to support a whole raft of projects for example new activity classes, clubs which support weight loss or reducing social isolation, teaching how to prepare healthy meals on a budget or general cookery skills. Whilst match-funding is not strictly required projects that have some percentage of match funding in place will be favoured.

The closing date for applications is Friday 21st September.  For more details or to download an application form visit www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/healthylifestyles

Could you lend a hand to help restore Somerset’s iconic fingerposts?

More volunteers and community groups are being urged to get involved with a ground-breaking project to restore historic signposts in Somerset.

In response to stretched finances, the Somerset Fingerpost Restoration Project was set up by Somerset County Council and the Southwest Heritage Trust in 2016 to help preserve and protect the signs by harnessing the goodwill of volunteers and exploring alternative funding options.

Exmoor National Park Authority, with support from the Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, has since run a hugely successful project in West Somerset with more than 100 volunteers recruited and more than 60 signs restored to date.

Communities in other parts of Somerset have also been able to secure sponsorship from local businesses or have successfully applied for grant funding to help pay for repairs. One example is Williton Parish Council, which has secured sponsorship funding from Magna Housing to restore some of its fingerposts.

More volunteers and community groups are now being sought to get involved to carry on work that the Council no longer has the money to fund.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We are very lucky in Somerset to have one of the most impressive collections of fingerposts in the country.

“With the strains on our finances we just don’t have the budget to restore these beautiful signs ourselves, but this is a fantastic example of communities coming together – with help from us – to take the responsibility on.

“It proves what we already knew, that there are amazing people out there willing to give something back. We’ve also found that community groups have access to sponsorship and grants which are not open to us. I’d urge anyone with an interest in preserving these iconic landmarks to get involved.”

Back in the 1960s, councils were advised to remove all fingerposts and replace them with the modern, standardised road signs which can now be found all over the country. In Somerset, this advice was ignored, and as a result the county still has a wonderful back catalogue of fingerposts.

Somerset County Council has cared for these unofficial highways signs for more than 60 years, but having had to find around £130m of savings and efficiencies over the last eight years, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify spending precious resources on non-mandatory services.

Somerset County Council and the Southwest Heritage Trust have produced a handbook that provides all the information required to enable community groups to decide if they would like to take part in this valuable project. It also contains a fascinating potted history of fingerposts in Somerset. You can view the handbook at http://www.somerset.gov.uk/policies-and-plans/schemes-and-initiatives/somerset-fingerpost-restoration-project/.

Exmoor National Park’s Charlotte Thomas, who is leading the Exmoor project, said: “The interest we’ve had from local communities has been just fantastic. We have teams of volunteers all over the project area who are helping out. There is even a group in Minehead who are a roving team and have helped refurbish signposts in neighbouring parishes.

“Others have kindly let me know when they have found broken fingers and we have been able to use local contractors to fix them. It just goes to show the important role these signposts play in the personal and regional history of Exmoor.”

Mike Neville and Stuart Lawrence, two volunteers from Minehead, have been busy working with others to restore numerous signposts along the A39. Mike said: “I got involved with the project because I wanted to make a difference in my local community and I’d noticed the signs starting to look scruffy.

“It’s really satisfying seeing them looking all pristine by the side of the road and good to know you’ve done your bit in restoring a local heirloom. I’ve even made a few friends along the way!”

Tony Murray, housing director for Magna Housing which is sponsoring Williton Parish Council’s fingerpost project, said: “We support the communities we are based in so we were really pleased to be able to help with this project. Fingerposts have been a part of our landscape for decades and we want to see their use continued. We really hope that other people are encouraged to join in and do what they can.”

Please contact your local parish council if you would like to get involved, or email [email protected] for further information.

Cheddar Neighbourhood Plan

Click here to view/download the Cheddar Neighbourhood Plan Report

Silhouettes in Somerset to mark World War One centenary

Communities can now apply for fully funded grants to purchase silhouettes to remember and reflect on those who went to war and did not return, thanks to a new programme from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

With the centenary of the end of World War One approaching, communities across the United Kingdom are thinking about how they can commemorate and bring people together to remember. This initiative will allow communities to purchase up to 10 silhouettes for benches and chairs free of charge. The silhouettes can be placed within community halls, places of worship and places of education, bringing to mind those who went to war and did not return.

Eligible communities can apply for fully funded grants to purchase the silhouettes and applications are open from now until 30 June 2018. As part of the award, your organisation will need to hold a self-funded event to bring your local community together.

A range of organisations can qualify to apply for an award, provided they have a constitution. These include charities, places of worship and Community Interest Companies.

As part of their project, communities need to focus on the themes of the ‘Armed Forces Community today’ and ‘bringing the local community together’. Applicants will need to involve local members of the armed forces or veterans. This could involve sending them an invite to attend or speak at your event.

Somerset County Councillor, Rod Williams, Chair of the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership said: “This is a fantastic way to commemorate the end of World War One and a great opportunity to bring together people from both the Armed Forces and the civilian community. Whether it’s tea and cake following a remembrance event or a ‘bring and share’ lunch, we’d love as many organisations in Somerset as possible to sign up for their silhouette. It’s so important to inspire the message: ‘We will remember them!”

For more information on the The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and how to qualify or apply for an award,visit: https://www.therebutnotthere.org.uk/taking-part/armed-forces-covenant-fund-trust/

Highway grass cutting season is underway

The 2018 roadside grass-cutting season is now underway with contractors in action across Somerset to help keep road users safe.

As the highway authority, Somerset County Council cuts roadside verges to a minimum of one metre in width to preserve visibility at junctions and bends.

This also helps the flow of water along road channels and provides a safe area for pedestrians where there is no pavement.

During all environmental works, the Council seeks to protect wildlife where this does not conflict with safety requirements.

Residents can find out more about the 2018 programme, including maps showing which roads are included and the order of works, at a new webpage – www.travelsomerset.co.uk/grass-cutting

You can also find out about hedge cutting and treatment of noxious and invasive weeds.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Our highways team does so much more than just fixing roads. Our grass cutting programme is extremely important and we work hard to balance the need to keep people safe with our desire to protect and encourage wildlife.

“This new webpage is a great resource for the public as it explains how the programme works and what people can expect from us through the season.”

The new webpage can be found at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/grass-cutting, while you can also stay up to date with the highways team by following @TravelSomerset on Twitter.

Parish Newsletter – Time is running out to have your say

Anyone with an interest in Somerset’s libraries has one more month to take part in the County Council’s consultation on the future of its Library Service. The consultation ends on Wednesday 13 June and more than 4,000 responses have been received so far.

Somerset County Council is keen for anyone yet to complete the questionnaire to go online at www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation, view the proposal on the future of the library they visit most often and give their feedback. Alternatively, complete the survey at your local library.

Decision makers want to know the impact potential changes to the library service would have on you, your family and communities. It also provides an opportunity to comment on the proposals and make alternative suggestions.

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries, said: “With just a month to go before the library consultation ends, I encourage anyone who has yet to have their say to complete a questionnaire and make their voice count. It’s important to us as many people as possible tell us their views on our proposals and how they may affect them before we make our final decision.”

A final decision on Somerset’s library service is expected later this year.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary: Bridgwater team launch new schools project to reduce Anti-Social Behaviour in the community

27 April 2018

Our Bridgwater team have launched a new project in schools this week aimed at reducing Anti-Social Behaviour in the community.

Neighbourhood Beat Manager PC Claire Allan is leading this exciting project and this week delivered workshops at Chilton Trinity School with Year 9 and 10 students, with Youth Intervention Officer Mandy Forsey.

The workshops look at what Anti-Social Behaviour is, how it can be perceived and how it can impact communities, and local neighbourhoods. It also explores the involvement Police can have when tackling Anti-Social Behaviour and highlighting the consequences that young people may face if they get involved in this type of crime.

Claire said “I believe it’s really important to give young people the knowledge and opportunity to make positive choices, and this workshop is designed to do that. Throughout my time working within Bridgwater I have spoken with many people who have been victims of Anti-Social Behaviour and I know how much of a significant impact this can have on not only the individuals but surrounding communities. This project is unique to our area and these workshops have been created with young people in mind, they’re engaging and it will give students the chance to think about how their actions can affect others.”

The team have also worked with students encouraging them to get involved practically by creating a video, which will be shown to other students at the school. A local student named James Gardner, has been a keen driving force acting on behalf of his peers working very closely with Claire. Having a young person feeding into the project has really helped guide Claire in the creation of these the workshops, making them engaging and interactive.

James said “When I got involved with the project I was very excited as it was clearly a great opportunity. I’m glad I got to help with something I genuinely care about and am proud to be a part of it.”

Claire plans to carry out further workshops in local schools over the coming months; they include Robert Blake Science College, Haygrove School and Bridgwater College Academy.

It’s estimated that 1800 students in year 9 and 10 will have received the workshops by the end of the year.

For any interview opportunities please contact Claire Allan direct on [email protected]

Help the Willowman

A campaign is being launched to secure the future of the iconic M5 Willow Man who strides alongside the motorway near junction 23 at Bridgwater. Created by artist Serena de la Hey in 2000 as part of The Year of the Artist, The Willow Man was conceived as a temporary structure and now nearly two decades on, it needs a complete rebuild as well as a fund for future maintenance.

Please Download the “Save the M5 willowman” Press Release

Full information can be found at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/willow-man

Rural residents asked to share their views on police response to rural crime

26 April 2018

Rural communities are being encouraged to have their say as part of the 2018 National Rural Crime Survey, to help better understand the true picture of crime and anti-social behaviour in rural areas and the impact it has on local people who live and work there.

According to the National Rural Crime Network, rural crime is still being under-reported. Three years on from their last survey, they are keen for people who make up rural areas across the country to once again share their views on the policing of rural communities.

The feedback from the survey will be used to help shape the future of crime prevention and rural policing.  You can take part in the Rural Crime Survey by visiting www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net/ and you have until June 10, 2018 to respond.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Rural crime affects the livelihoods of farmers, smallholders and rural businesses and presents some real challenges for the wider rural areas. In Somerset we have a large rural community and many people who work in farming and other rural industries. It’s important they have a voice and that the police service understands the impact of rural crime on them.

“Rural crime is already the focus of a lot of effort locally with a dedicated rural crime team, a rural crime forum which many local organisations are a part of and Farm and Horse watches across Avon and Somerset.  We’re already in a strong position but any additional knowledge from the survey will further help the police in their efforts tackling rural crime.  I’d encourage people to spare a few minutes to tell us what they think.”

Rural crime is typically associated with the countryside such as wildlife and heritage crime, farm equipment and animal thefts. However, alongside this there have also been examples of fraud and other scams, with criminals deliberately targeting isolated, vulnerable people.

If you’ve experienced rural crime in Avon and Somerset you can get in touch with the rural crime team by texting 07492 888109 or if you would like to remain anonymous, you can make a report online through Crimestoppers or by calling them on 0800 555111.

On May 1, the Constabulary are launching a new rural crime Facebook page which local people can follow. For crime prevention information you can also join your local Farm Watch by contacting the rural crime team at [email protected].police.uk.

If you’ve been the victim of crime you can report it by calling 101 (non-emergency), 999 (in an emergency) or online atwww.avonandsomerset.police.uk

Memorial Testing

Sedgemoor District Council is undertaking a programme of memorial testing and repair in the Quantock Road Cemetery and Bristol Road Cemetery in Bridgwater. The work is necessary to ensure the safety of those visiting or working in Sedgemoor’s graveyards.

Each headstone will be tested for stability and safety. If any stone is found to be potentially unsafe, the Council will take temporary safety measures and will contact family members where possible so it can be decided how to make it safe long term.

Graves and/or memorials are the responsibility of the family or relatives of the deceased.

For newer memorials, the grave or memorial should be under guarantee and the memorial mason who carried out the original installation should be able to correct any faults, if found.

Bridgwater Tidal Barrier Scheme Newsletter

View/Download the first issue here

Bridgwater Tidal Barrier Project

Please find attached, a summary of the feedback received during the Summer/Autumn 2017 consultation period.

For further information about the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier, please go to https://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/article/1659/Bridgwater-Barrier or contact the Project Team at [email protected]