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Somerset’s Local Access Forum Needs You!

Are you a walker, cyclist, horse rider or vehicle driver who enjoys getting out and about in Somerset’s beautiful countryside?

If you use the county’s extensive rights of way network, you might be interested in joining Somerset’s Local Access Forum.

The Forum acts as an advisory body which offers views and suggestions on improvements to access for all users.

The Forum meets twice a year to discuss a formal agenda, but throughout the year members have the opportunity to contribute to a number of consultations from organisations such as Natural England, Defra and Somerset County Council.  In the past year the Forum have discussed issues such as proposed A road schemes and their likely impact on the access network, temporary diversions for livestock management, and auditing the List of Streets.

Current Chairman Julia Gadd said: “As a keen walker with an interest in education and tourism, I am totally committed to maintaining public access but also improving knowledge and awareness around public access to the countryside.

“I also understand that there are many other interests that need to be considered and the Local Access Forum (LAF) is the place where all these interests come together to help develop policies and initiatives that are fair to users and land owners together with commercial and political interests.  It has the ability to communicate these views to the political decision makers.

“It is very rewarding to be involved in consultations about major initiatives such as the England Coast Path and more recently the proposals for dualling of the A303 and A358. There is no doubt that the voice of the Somerset LAF as a statutory consultee should be heard and have an influence when developing policies and major infrastructure projects that affect public access.”

If you’d like the opportunity to get involved, gain a new interest and meet new people, then please get in touch!  We’re on the lookout for new members who are able to attend the next meeting on May 17 at Langport Town Hall.  Closing date for applications has now been extended until April 18.

Further information is available on SCC’s website at www.somerset.gov.uk/get-involved/community/somerset-local-access-forum or you can contact SLAF’s Secretary, Emma Parsons on 01823 356018 or email SLAF@somerset.gov.uk.

Somerset Local Access Forum – Somerset County Council
Somerset Local Access Forum (SLAF) was set up in April 2003 in response to the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000. It is a forum made up of representatives of many fields of interest including use rs such as horse riders, landowners, tourism, health, and education which are pertinent to improving access to the countryside in Somerset.

NDR Community Impact Mitigation Fund (CIM) Bid

Sedgemoor District Council will be hosting a ‘drop in’ consultation event where members of the public are welcome anytime between 3.00pm and 6.00pm on Wednesday 28^th March at St George’s Hall, Kendale Road, Bridgwater, TA6 3QE.

The Council wants to find out your views on how to encourage use of local (doorstep) leisure facilities (including the Town Centre) to reduce the need to travel further afield by vehicle and therefore reduce congestion on local roads. Three areas for potential enhancement have been identified:

  1. The linear open space, which begins from Duke St/Countess Avenue and takes you to Crowpill Lane
  2. The area of open space located next to Crowpill Lane play area
  3. Meadowlands Avenue public open space.

The aim of the consultation is to provide evidence that the Council and partners will use to inform a bid to the Hinkley Community Impact Mitigation Fund. Local Councillors and Parks Officers will be available at the ‘drop in’ event to find out what you would like to see in the local area.

If you are unable to attend, please request a copy of the survey by emailing: parks@sedgemoor.gov.uk

Planning a street party?

With only two months to go before the Royal Wedding on May 19th, Sedgemoor District Council is reminding parishes and community groups that there is help and advice about planning a street party or event. http://www.streetparty.org.uk

Many people are already planning street parties with friends and neighbours. Street parties are a great way for communities to come together to celebrate special occasions or annual events such as The Big Lunch on 3 June and the Great Get Together over the weekend of 22 to 24 June.

You may need an Events Licence – please check with SDC’s Licencing team on https://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/article/751/Temporary-Event-Notices  or you may need a road closure – see https://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/article/1307/Temporary-Road-Closuresfor information.

The government has re-issued street party guidance to make it easier for people to organise local events. As well as our street party guidance, The Big Lunch and The Great Get Together have lots of tips and resources to help people plan their event.




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.

Library Services Consultation Announced

A consultation on the future of how Somerset County Council library services could be delivered across Somerset is due to start at the end of this month.

A formal decision was taken today to consult on a set of proposals that seek to put the service on a sustainable footing for the long-term, at a time when all Council budgets are under enormous pressure.

The decision sets out that a public consultation will start on 29 January and run for 12 weeks (ending 22 April) and invites members of the public, businesses and organisations for their views.

Somerset County Council is proud to deliver a comprehensive, thriving and modern library service across the county and is fully committed to continuing to do so. Somerset County Council currently provides a library service online through LibrariesWest, a mobile library, a home delivery service for customers unable to visit a library for themselves and through 34 library buildings in major towns and villages.

As with many Authorities, Somerset County Council continues to face challenging financial times. Funds from central government reduce year on year whilst demand for services, such as adult and children’s social care, increase and all County Council services are considering efficiency and cost reduction options.

In summary, under the proposals, 15 of our 34 library buildings would be seeking community involvement to remain open. Where this is not possible, services would instead be provided either through outreach in community venues or through additional mobile library stops.

For 7 of our libraries, the County Council is consulting on two alternative options – either to seek community involvement to maintain library buildings or to keep existing library services as they currently are.

Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, Cllr David Hall, said: “These are challenging financial times and we must put libraries on a sustainable financial footing for the long-term, whilst still delivering a modern thriving library service across our County.

“Library services will continue across Somerset whatever the response from this consultation, but our proposals highlight that keeping some libraries open may require community support. Where we are unable to keep libraries open, we will deliver library services in other ways such as via alternative venuesor mobile library services.

“I would stress that no decision about the future delivery of library services in any community has been taken and no decision will be made until the results of this consultation have been fully analysed. Please take the opportunity to submit your views on the proposals from 29 January and offer your ideas or suggestions for any alternative proposals you may have.”

There are Somersetlibrary service proposals for 9 areas in total available to view. Anyone taking part in the consultation will be asked to view the area of the library they visit most often before completing a questionnaire asking for their views on the proposals.

The proposals and the questionnaire will be available online from 29 January at www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.

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 Bridgwater.Barrier@environment-agency.gov.uk


Fly-tip lands Somerset man in jail

A Sedgemoor man who fly-tipped waste over his garden fence into a back lane spent a night in jail for not dealing with a fine for the crime and left court today [Tues 3 Oct] with a bill for £280.

Unemployed father-of-two Marcus Jones, aged 25, was arrested and held overnight after he failed to appear for a summons about an unpaid fixed penalty notice for dumping rubbish.

Responding to questions from a council enforcement officer, Jones admitted fly-tipping, said he was not aware that his conduct was an offence and apologised.

But he never paid the fixed penalty notice, which is reduced from £400 to £250 if settled early, saying that he could not afford to meet the cost.

Today Jones, from Dukes Mead in Bridgwater, was fined £250 for fly-tipping, with a £30 victim surcharge but the court was told he would not have to pay costs because of his low income.

Sedgemoor District Council solicitor Steve Hellard, prosecuting at Taunton magistrates, said: “Fly tipping blights local communities and poses a risk to human health and the environment.”

He added that, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, householders have a legal “duty of care with regard to their waste and a duty to ensure that such waste is properly disposed of”.

Fixed penalty notices and court prosecutions are part of a Somerset-wide campaign to fight fly-tipping that has included closing a road that became a dumping blackspot in Mendip.

With special training and coordination efforts, surveillance cameras and warning signs, Somerset’s councils have seen fly-tipping across the county fall to a five-year low.

And there are hopes that a new push can be launched to tackle “Facebook fly-tips” with online warnings about criminal dumpers for those using social media to get waste taken away.

Simple steps anyone can take to fight fly-tipping are highlighted on Somerset Waste Partnership’s website at somersetwaste.gov.uk/about/fight-fly-tipping.

Rural Crime

New text number to combat rural crime – 07492 888109

We launched a new text service to help us prevent and detect rural crime in January.

The service was aimed at encouraging rural communities and businesses to help us by providing information and intelligence about suspected crime in their area.

The number allows the public to text information directly to the Rural Crime Team, who assess and action the intelligence quickly and efficiently.

The service is going to continue following its three month trial but the number is changing. The 81819 number, which was also shared with our Drink Drive campaign and other services, is being discontinued and new numbers are being rolled out.

The new Rural Crime number is now 07492 888109 and will working in exactly the same way.

Inspector Joanna Mines, from the Rural Crime Team in Somerset, said: “We trialled the number for three months and have decided to carry on with the service. However, we felt we needed our own specific number and the 81819 number was quite expensive to run. The new number is specifically for Rural Crime and is a lot more cost effective.

“The number came about as many people who belong to our FarmWatch scheme said they wanted a facility to be able to pass on information and respond to messages quickly, and this number has facilitated that.

“We want to hear from anyone who has information about any suspicious or potentially criminal activity in their area, for example – details of people/vehicles seen behaving suspiciously, potentially stolen goods or livestock being offered for sale either to the public or at markets, sightings of stolen vehicles we might put out an alert for.

“No matter how small or insignificant people may think information is, it may be a vital piece of a jigsaw that helps us fill in the gaps and either prevent a crime or bring offenders to justice.”

Messages are currently sent out via text message, voice alert and email to members of the Neighbourhood, Farm and Horse Watch schemes to alert them to crimes and incidents in their area. This new number will allow people to text back information quickly and easily.

Anyone can use it if they have information about rural or agricultural crime in their area, and isn’t just for Watch members.

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. I know the Rural Crime Team, working closely with our local communities are committed to tackling and preventing crime.

“I know from speaking to residents and farmers that there is a real desire to engage with the police when it comes to tackling rural crime. Providing an appropriate way for our rural communities to contact the police with intelligence will make a real difference to ensuring our countryside is safe and feels safe.”

It is important to note that the number isn’t monitored 24/7. The team will be looking at it when they are on duty, it therefore shouldn’t be used for reporting crimes.

You can report a crime online via our website www.avonandsomerset.police.uk

If it’s a crime which requires an immediate police attendance then dial 999.

The new number is 07492 888109, please text us any information you believe could either help prevent or detect a crime in your area.

You can still pass on information via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call.

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