We may be dealing with a national pandemic, but your District Council is getting lots of business done! Mendip Matters - 3rd March

There was a packed agenda at Mendip’s Full Council meeting, with financial business dominating matters. We may be dealing with a national pandemic, but your District Council is getting lots of business done! I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the highlights.

Despite Covid, we’ve continued to deliver essential services including, licensing, planning, enforcement, waste collection and protecting the homeless. Your Council Tax supports all this vital work. But to maintain these services, we need to raise the Mendip element of the Council Tax by around £5 extra compared to last year.

I hope you feel this represents good value for money at just under 42p extra per month, and that this is comparable to other services. Avon and Somerset Police are asking for more than a £1 extra per month (£13.39 more per annum). And Somerset County Council are charging £64.33 extra for their 2021/22 Council Tax – that’s a rise of £5.36 per household per month.

I know whichever way you slice it up, Council Tax bills represent a big chunk of people’s household budgets. If you think you’ll miss all or part of your payment, get in touch. We’ve lots of support schemes available such as setting up a direct debit, rescheduling payments to spread them over a longer time, and you can apply for Council Tax support. Please don’t put it off, or worry alone. Talk to us www.mendip.gov.uk/counciltaxsupport. Alternatively, you can contact Citizens Advice on 03444 889 623, visit: www.citizensadvicemendip.org.uk.

At Mendip, we’ve been seeking fiscal fairness within the Council too. From 1st April, the administration has agreed to ensure our lowest earning employees receive a ‘Real Living Wage.’ Calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, it reflects the true hourly cost of living. At £9.50 for over 25s, it’s well ahead of the statutory National Minimum Wage of £8.72 an hour.

Mendip staff have gone the extra mile during Covid and deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. I hope other employers look to try to do the same.

Who said Covid was all bad news? Savings made on Mendip travel costs by members and staff in the past 12 months, due to Government restrictions and lockdowns, have resulted in a one-off £40k windfall which we will invest in the creative industries. For the first time in ten years this struggling sector will get the support it deserves.

Alongside the monies, (which will be used as ‘seed funding’ to leverage investment from other sources), we’re developing a ‘Creative Mendip’ strategy to ensure this work gains traction. I believe the creative industries make a massive contribution to our way of life and wellbeing. What better way to kickstart our local economy?

We will emerge from this pandemic changed, but at Mendip, no-one need be left behind. I know our residents and local businesses have the determination to build back better, and become a stronger Somerset.

I love to hear your views, so please get in touch. My Facebook page is: @Ros.Wyke, and my email is: [email protected]

Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council

Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].

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