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A News Update from Sedgemoor District Council can be viewed here

ROUGH SLEEPERS

We have four rough sleepers who decided this week to vacate the accommodation we had found for them.  Two were persuaded to return; the other two are being monitored by the Homelessness Team.

 Thanks – we had a lovely ‘thank you’ email from a former rough sleeper who we housed.  Originally sleeping at Highbridge railway station, he was accommodated at YMCA Highbridge.  We arranged with HiS for him to have one of the new properties in Alpha House; the team arranged for some furniture and support to help him in.  One person safely housed, sorted and extremely grateful.     He said “You have given me a fantastic opportunity and start for a fresh and new outlook on life.  I cannot express the gratitude that I hold for you and your team.”

SEDGEMOOR FOOD HUB

Working well with low demand.    We did have an email of thanks from an elderly couple saying “We just want to say a very big thank you for the food parcel that you delivered today to our home.  It came and was so very helpful. We have been having to do our own shopping, as we have been unable to shop on-line due to lack of slots.  Anyway, thank you very much for what you did today it was very kind and  most generous of whoever donated the food. Also we were given a phone  number of who to contact for future shopping. Take care and stay safe.”

SKY LANTERNS AND BALLOONS

There was a suggestion that, in order to support the Thursday night Clap for Carers, that NHS branded balloons and sky lanterns should be let off, which are known to be very damaging for the environment and livestock.  The idea was quashed on those grounds, but we have received many emails thanking us for our foresight in banning balloon releases and sky lantern releases from council-owned land.

BONFIRES AND THE LAW

 Some of our EHO staff were called to East Huntspill last week to talk to other owner of this fire.  We do have a number of enforcement options for black, toxic smoke.  For full information, see our website section on bonfires. [sedgemoor.gov.uk]

 However, there are no byelaws banning bonfires or restricting the days or times when they are allowed, contrary to popular belief.  However, bonfires which prevent your neighbours from using their garden, opening their windows or hanging out their washing can cause distress and may constitute a statutory nuisance, but only if the bonfires were excessive, prolonged and on a regular basis. 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TEAM

 Whilst Sedgemoor District Council’s offices at Bridgwater House may be closed; staff are either working at home or are out and about doing essential tasks.

 With four Particulate Matter Monitors continually testing air quality across Bridgwater, staff from the Environmental Protection Team are checking that equipment is still in good working order to collect air quality data.

BURNHAM-ON-SEA BEACH

 DOG BAN ON BOS BEACH

After high tides, as we experienced recently, we often get reports of debris on BoS beach.  This is ususally the remains of a boating lake and paddling pool which were demolished some years ago.  The high tides expose it, but usually nature takes its course and they get recovered.   However, we had a small window of opportunity and a digger on hand doing some jetty maintenance, so we were able to remove some rubble and metal.

We have received a number of enquiries regarding the relaxation of dog exclusion zones, during the current ‘lockdown’. There are annual seasonal dog bans on various parts of BOS beach, from 1 May.  As they are part of a Public Space Protection Order, it would be impractical to go through the long legal process of officially varying or amending it.   Therefore, the ban will still be in place as it is part of a legal order issued under the legislation.  However, we are very aware of the current situation and just ask that people respect the ban and will be having informal discussions with dog owners if they are in the beach ban area.  However, the dog wardens will still enforce any breach of dog fouling regulations, as that is unacceptable under any circumstances.

BUSINESS GRANTS

 HOLIDAY LETS AND SECOND HOMES

The ED and Business rates team have worked extraorindarily hard to get 70% of the £30m business grants paid out.  We have had 2,160 applications and will pay another 47 today.   As of 29.04.20 we have paid £20,975,000.  We estimate about 500 of the 2,600 businesses identified have not yet applied and teams are doing everything they can to locate these businesses.     If you know of any business who hasn’t applied, please contact the ED team on 0300 303 7801.  

 There have been a few enquiries about people who own holiday lets which they may occasionally use themselves, who have successfully applied for the business grant.  If these properties are rented out for a period of time, they are eligible for the grant because they fall under business rates.

We have also had enquires about second homes, that are not rented out and for family use only.  On these properties, the owners pay council tax.  These are not eligible for a grant and will still be liable to pay council tax at 100%.  We are currently awaiting guidance from government about this situation as Gvt guidance states people should not be using their second homes.

JOINT COVID HOTLINE

0300 790 6275

The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline has now been operational for three weeks and during that time has received over 1600 calls.  The helpline is open seven days a week from 8 – 6 pm and runs in addition to our own Sedgemoor Direct.  The types of calls being received are predominantly for requests for personal care, financial matters such as council tax relief, grants and benefits, housing issues, food supplies and emotional support for callers who are anxious or worried. 

THE SOMERSET CORONAVIRUS APPEAL

Established on March 19th by Somerset Community Foundation, it raises funds for local charitable groups that are supporting the most vulnerable people affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and has now raised over £500,000.  Grants of up to £10,000 are available and to apply groups need to complete a short application form via: www.somersetcf.org.uk/coronavirus [eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com]. 

 6th May 2020