We all recognise the enormous pressure the NHS and care system have been under during the past 12 months. There’s been much praise, appreciation and love for these critical workers. And rightly so. But this week I wanted to dedicate the column to the unsung heroes of the pandemic who’ve made our daily lives that little bit better.
They are our postmen, postwomen and delivery drivers who work around the clock bringing mail and parcels to our doors. The retail staff serving in shops, helping us stock up with those essential items.
Somerset’s Lib Dems are celebrating a big win for local residents in need of help after the County Council agreed a grant of £400,000 to fund Citizens’ Advice freephone ‘Somerset AdviceLine’.
At the County Council’s yearly budget meeting yesterday, a proposal prepared by Lib Dem Deputy Leader Councillor Liz Leyshon to direct emergency Covid funding towards the freephone county-wide ‘Somerset AdviceLine’ project was supported by every Councillor present.
Sedgemoor Councillor Nick Bayliss, who represents residents in the Highbridge & Burnham Marine area, said:
“I was absolutely devastated reading the news of this morning’s fire at the Motorsports base at Bridgwater College.
It would have been hard for you to miss the recording from Handforth Parish Council’s zoom meeting that went viral a week or so ago. I was sent the link many times, and there has been widespread coverage of the somewhat chaotic meeting across the national daily newspapers and social media.
I see Andrew Lloyd Webber has even composed a spoof musical song (the newspaper headline read: “Don’t cry for me Jackie Weaver”!) about Handforth Parish Council’s clerk because, he said, the council meeting was “sort of operatic.”
There seems to be an increase in the amount of litter around at the moment, cluttering and damaging our wonderful landscapes and countryside. I witness the evidence myself when I go walking in the Mendip Hills. And on returning home, I see debates unfold on social media.
Since Covid, a new type of waste has been appearing amongst the usual rubbish. We are increasingly seeing masks, gloves and other PPE littering the streets, roadsides and countryside, which is such a shame. Just when we were getting on top of the plastic carrier bag problem too.
Sustaining our economy and supporting local people are key priorities for your District Council. When this Covid crisis ends – and it will – we’ll need to work with our communities, to build back better, one street at a time, one family at a time, one place at a time.
And I am happy to report some positive steps on the road to recovery have begun to take place already.
Last week outline planning permission, subject to conditions, was approved for a major development in Frome. The site – ‘Saxonvale’ – is a high quality, exemplar project, featuring contemporary and sensitive design, local features and quality materials to create character, identity and I know it will fill people with civic pride when completed.
The Covid crisis continues to impact our communities. No sooner did I hear the wonderful news that more than 4,000 people had now been vaccinated at our council offices in Shepton Mallet, when word came out that Glastonbury Festival was cancelled, for the second year running. Both stark reminders of the highs and lows we are experiencing at the moment.
So many of our plans have been called-off or placed on hold, but the Glastonbury announcement was nevertheless a huge disappointment. Let’s hope 2022 will be a golden year for the festival, the fans, and the many Mendip businesses and charities who benefit from it.
It was lovely to see the Mendips featured on this week’s Countryfile on BBC1. What a beautiful part of the world we are lucky enough to live in! The downside of this of course is that so many people (and their cars!) are attracted to these beauty spots, posing a significant threat to the delicate ecosystems and ecologies.
No doubt this week you’ll have been busy boxing up the decorations and storing them away for another year. Let’s hope next time we dust off those baubles and tinsel, and put up a Christmas tree, we’ll be in a much happier place.
I found the festive lights in homes and gardens really uplifting. People seemed to have gone to an extra effort to make the season special. If you’re sad to see them go, there’s a stellar display you can enjoy, 365 days of the year, if you look upwards on a clear night. And it’s a sight we must preserve.
I recently heard a great term to describe the days between Christmas and New Year – Chrimbo Limbo. If you’re struggling to know what day it is, this will probably resonate with you! I hope you had a good Christmas and managed to see loved ones, even if it was at a distance.
As we approach another new year, it’s a good time to reflect on the past, and consider the 12 months ahead. Certainly 2020 has been like no other. At Mendip we’ve done our utmost to keep services running whilst also pulling together with our neighbouring district councils and county council, to support our residents through turbulent times.