Mendip's Covid support - Mendip Matters - 4th Jan


It is the perfect time of year to look back on the previous year and contemplate the year ahead.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you will have heard about the range and breadth of district council services in Mendip.

So, rain or shine – or indeed pandemic – your council has been delivering all year. From administering Covid supporting business grants, to transforming our campus into a makeshift vaccination hub. Mendip staff have worked alongside our NHS colleagues and volunteers to deliver life-saving jabs.

As part of Mendip’s Covid support we offered numerous incentives to help our local economy bounce back. We’ve given rent breaks to our Mendip Market stallholders and provided free parking to residents this Christmas to encourage foot fall to our city and towns. We helped businesses during various closures, and have been there for them to help them re-open safely again.  

We believe everyone has a right to a place they can call home. That’s why we are proud that two social housing projects have planning papers submitted. In North Parade, Frome and Cemetery Lane, in Street. The first schemes of their kind in the district for two decades. 2022 could provide the keys to a new home – and a new life – for some, thanks to this important housing development programme.

We launched a series of grants, including a one-off £50k Tourism Grant to help boost visitor numbers to increase spending in the area and promote Mendip as a 'go-to destination' in Somerset. Then there was a £40k investment in local creative industries to kick-start a cultural renaissance for the district. In June, Mendip launched a fund for communities and one for climate and ecological emergency projects. Some £400k is being distributed as a result. And thousands more will go to local firms in Revitalisation Grants.

There was regeneration joy, this time for Glastonbury, with £24 million being awarded as part of the Government’s Town Deal. Teams are busy working-up business cases as we speak, and transformation will begin to take place there in 2022.

We’ve used our enforcement powers, working with partners in the police, to crack down on rogue landlords and environmental crime. We’ve run several fly tipping ‘stings’ in Wells and Frome. And we’ve worked closely with communities to put in place long-term solutions at fly tipping hot spots such as Berkley Lane, in Frome.

Alongside our usual environmental health inspections, licensing and enforcement duties, we launched an anti-idling campaign to clean-up the air around our schools, car parks and shops.

And we encouraged a network of safer travel paths for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, creating commuter routes and connecting our city, towns and villages.

Since declaring a climate and ecological emergency in 2019, we have been working through a number of projects to reduce our own emissions in-house, and those across the district, such as via the planned installation of EV charging points, working with our wildlife trust on ecological recovery, and retrofitting properties to increase the energy efficiency of Mendip’s homes.

A huge amount of work has gone to establishing the baseline of emissions across our district, and the Council’s own carbon footprint. From this, a determined ‘future emissions pathway’ has been published to reduce these figures. Mendip joined the UK100 which gives us the opportunity to work with other local authorities to have a voice and help shape national policy to tackle the environmental problems further and faster than the UK Government’s pace.

Recycle More was first rolled out in Mendip in 2020. One year on from the trailblazing success, and our district collects 1000 extra tonnes of recycling a week since the scheme was introduced.

We’ve continued to tackle those not-so-glamorous ‘Business As Usual’ jobs, such as food inspections, littler picking verges, grass cutting, emptying dog poo bins, and collecting your Council Tax. And the nice stuff too, such as offering apprenticeship schemes, paying our staff a living wage, and flying the flag for our armed forces and our LGBTQ+ community on national days of celebration.

In 2023 a new single unitary Somerset Council will be formed. In preparation there will be election of 110 county/unitary councillors in May of this year , plus city, town and parish elections across Somerset. It will be another busy year at Mendip that’s for sure! If you have any questions do get in touch. Email: [email protected] / Facebook: @RosWyke. 

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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