21 January 2020Beware of renewable energy scams

Many of us aim to be more eco-friendly. One way to do this is to use renewable energy, for instance by installing solar panels or switching to a green energy supplier. However, alongside many legitimate schemes and home products, there are fraudsters using the cover of renewable energy to steal your money or personal or financial information.  

If you are thinking about switching to renewable energy, follow this checklist:

  • Research the market. Don’t be tempted by a seemingly unbeatable deal from a doorstep trader, mailshot or cold phone call. 
  • Never be rushed or intimidated into making a decision. The choice of suppliers is growing so take time to shop around for the right deal.
  • If you receive a cold phone call tempting you to invest in renewable energy, don’t give any personal or financial information. Put the phone down.
  • If you want to switch energy supplier, use the Citizens Advice comparison tool at energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk or call 03454 040506 to find the best genuine deal.
  • Before signing anything, read the terms and conditions and make sure you know what you are signing up to. Ask a trusted friend for help if you need it.
  • Ask friends and family for advice and recommendations on renewable energy.
  • Use a scheme or association to find reliable businesses. For example:
    • Find local, trustworthy businesses through the Buy With Confidence scheme. All businesses in the scheme are vetted, approved and monitored by Trading Standards. Visit buywithconfidence.gov.uk or call 01392 383430.
    • Or use a business that’s a member of an appropriate trade association for example the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) or the Renewable Energy Association (REA). These specialise in renewables and members must stick to their codes of practice. If a trader says they are a member of an association, check this is true.

If you are worried you have bought into a scam of any kind:

  • Get advice from Citizens Advice on 03454 040506
  • Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040

Did you know? Switching to green energy doesn’t mean all the electricity coming into your home will be green. You’ll still receive the same energy (including renewable) as everyone else. However, it does help increase the amount of green energy in the National Grid.

This article has been written by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service https://www.devonsomersettradingstandards.gov.uk/

21 January 2020Have your say about proposals for changing acute inpatient mental health services for adults of working age

Health and care services in Somerset are running a public consultation to gather feedback from local people about the future locations of acute mental health beds for people of working age. The consultation runs until 12 April 2020. 

An acute mental health ward is where patients are admitted to provide them with the level of treatment and support they need. This might be because they need further assessment, they need to be kept safe or they need more intensive support than can be provided at home.

Health and care services are considering changing the location of the acute mental health ward at Wells for people aged between 18 and 65 years and moving it to Yeovil. The number of beds will remain the same.

The reason for the proposed change is due to concerns about patients and staff safety. Two of the four wards for people aged between 18 and 65 years are located in Taunton, with one ward in both Yeovil and Wells. These two are ‘standalone’ wards which means they are not close to other wards, and one of them is also a long way from the nearest Emergency Department.

All other existing services at Priory Health Park in Wells will remain, whatever the outcome of the consultation, and community mental health services available to people in the Wells/Mendip area will be expanded and enhanced: this includes a Crisis Café.

Health and care services would like to know what you think about their ideas. You can fill in the questionnaire here: http://bit.ly/FFMF-Mental-Health-Consultation

You can read the full consultation document on their website at www.fitformyfuture.org.uk or contact them by email somccg.fitformyfuture@nhs.net or telephone 01935 384119

13 January 2020Have your say on tackling Somerset’s Climate Emergency

Online surveys are giving Somerset residents the chance to comment on and help shape a Climate Emergency Strategy for the county.

Launched today (6 Jan), one survey closes on 25 February 2020 and can be accessed here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Somerset-Climate-Change-Survey-2019 In addition, an survey for 11 to 18-year-olds can be completed by going to www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Somerset-Climate-Change-Survey-2019-Young-People and is open until 18 February.

To complement the surveys, a series of drop-in events will give people the opportunity to get involved and find out how the five councils in Somerset are working together on their approach to the climate emergency and how they aim to reduce carbon emissions by 2030.

There will be a family craft area at each event run by local artists and a ‘pop up café’ with talks from guest speakers on topics linked to protecting the environment. Open to residents, businesses, groups and anyone with an interest in what can be done or is being done to combat the impacts of Climate Change in Somerset, the drop-ins will be a chance to discuss the emerging thinking from the five councils as set out in a ‘framework’ document.

The ‘Have your say’ drop-ins start on Saturday 18 January 2020 at Taunton Library and will take place in each District Council area in January and February 2020.  They are being run by the Somerset Climate Action Network (SCAN) on behalf of Somerset’s four District Councils and the County Council.

Earlier this year, all five councils declared or recognised ‘climate emergencies’, agreeing to work together to produce a joint Climate Emergency Strategy. The strategy will identify ways Somerset might work together towards being carbon neutral by 2030 and adapt to predicted climate change impacts. But before the strategy can be drawn up, the councils need people in Somerset to have their say.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economy and Inward Investment at Somerset County Council said: “I would urge everyone in Somerset to get involved and tell us what they think about this critical issue by taking part in our Climate Emergency drop events and completing the online survey. There is also a version of the online survey that has been designed for children under the age of 18, so everyone can have their say.

“We will be seeking feedback on whether the work so far focuses on the right areas, covers everything it should and whether there are actions that communities could take or are already taking forward themselves.

“The information gathered from all our citizens, communities, businesses and interest groups will inform how we shape our plans for reducing carbon emissions going forward and the steps we take to work towards a Somerset that is resilient to the impacts of Climate Change.”

The events will be held on Saturdays, between 10am and 4pm at the following venues:

  • 18 January, Somerset West and Taunton. The Glassbox, Taunton Library, Paul Street, TA1 3XZ.
  • 8 February, Sedgemoor District Council. The Sedgemoor Room, Bridgwater House, King Square, Bridgwater, TA6 3AR.
  • 15 February, Mendip District Council. The Council Chamber, Mendip District Council Offices, Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT.
  • 22 February, South Somerset District Council. Vicarage Street Methodist Church, Vicarage Street, Yeovil, BA20 1JB.

More information can be found at www.somerset.gov.uk/climateemergency

 

16 December 2019It’s not an early Christmas present ….

Sedgemoor District Council is warning its residents that there is a company phoning householders who claims to be from Sedgemoor District Council stating that they are due a refund on council tax of up to £5000.  They state that properties in the area have been revalued and have been given a lower banding.  This is not a call from Sedgemoor District Council and the information is false.

Council Tax bands are set by the Valuation Office Agency and can only be changed under certain conditions. Details can be found at www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals.   If you think your band is wrong, contact the Valuation Office Agency - you will not be charged for the service.

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill and need help, speak with a member of the Council Tax Team on who will be able to offer help and advice on 0300 303 7801.

If you have given over personal details, we would advise you to call the Police straight away on 101 and report the matter as an identity theft scam. The Police will also direct you to the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.

16 December 2019School Admission Arrangements 2021/22 Consultation

Have Your Say

School admissions arrangements for children who are due to start or transfer school for the 2021-22 school year, and those moving schools during the 2021-22 school year will be consulted on for a minimum period of 6 weeks ending 31 January 2020.

This consultation applies to a number of schools and academies throughout Somerset.

This consultation period allows parents, other schools, religious authorities and the local community to raise any comments or concerns about proposed admission arrangements.

To view the consultation (live from 9 December) please visit https://www.somerset.gov.uk/education-and-families/school-admissions-policy/.

10 December 2019Somerset gets ready for a heavyweight Christmas

Somerset’s kerbside collections and recycling sites are expecting festive fun to lead to around 2,700 more tonnes of extra recycling and rubbish in January than in December. That’s a 17% rise, equivalent to 6,000 polar bears let loose or 100 rubbish trucks stacked on top of each other.

Christmas cheer is set to bring an extra 720 tonnes of glass, 110 tonnes of cans and 125 tonnes of plastic bottles, 560 tonnes of paper and card from wrapping, gift boxes and Christmas cards, and 650 tonnes of rubbish, but leftover eating leaves only an extra 230 tonnes of food waste.

With a total of 18,500 tonnes of recycling and rubbish to shift, not counting garden waste, residents are reminded that festive waste collections will be two days later after Christmas, including Friday collections on Sunday, and one day later after New Year:

Key dates for kerbside collections
Usual day - Revised day
Mon 23 Dec - No change
Tue 24 Dec - No change
Wed 25 Dec - Fri 27 Dec
Thu 26 Dec - Sat 28 Dec
Fri 27 Dec - Sun 29 Dec
Mon 30 Dec - No change
Tue 31 Dec - No change
Wed 1 Jan - Thu 2 Jan
Thu 2 Jan - Fri 3 Jan
Fri 3 Jan - Sat 4 Jan
Mon 6 Jan - Usual services resume

Prioritising all that recycling and rubbish means that, as usual, garden waste collections are suspended over Christmas – with the last garden waste collection on Friday 20 December and collections resuming on Monday 6 January.

An SWP spokesman said: “Thousands of tonnes of extra recycling and rubbish is tough to handle, but our hard working collection crews and recycling site staff do a great job. Please help them by sorting everything carefully before you put it in your recycling box, and taking large amounts of any materials – especially cardboard – to your local recycling centre.”

January sales and Christmas presents result in more items taken to recycling sites in January, including an extra 53 tonnes of fridges and freezers, 52 tonnes of cookers and washing machines, 17 tonnes of kettles, toasters and other small electricals, and 13 tonnes of televisions replaced to better see all the repeats.

Somerset residents are reminded that many retailers offer take-back schemes when you are purchasing a new electrical item, and many reuse organisations and other charities welcome white goods and other electricals in good condition.

All recycling sites will be open 9am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays on 21-22 and 28-29 December, and 4-5 January. All sites are closed on Christmas, Boxing and New Year days – check when your local site is open at www.somersetwaste.gov.uk.

The SWP spokesman added: “We ask all residents to help themselves and waste workers by reducing their waste where possible, considering what could be reused by someone else and choosing recyclable materials.

“The best things you can do with your Christmas tree are to compost it at home, take it to any recycling site, use a local council drop-off or chipping point, or book a charity collection where available. Garden waste subscribers only can add their undecorated tree under 6ft to their garden waste collection from 7 January.”

Information and advice about the potential impact of bad weather on services and top tips to cut Christmas waste – especially plastics - will be posted on SWP’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, with even more top tips available through its SORTED! monthly e-zine.

04 December 2019Sedgemoor's Customer Panel

Would you like to understand the changes that Sedgemoor District Council is making and have your voice heard? If so then join the Customer Services Panel. They are looking to recruit 100 people to sit on the panel.

Please see attached poster for more details.

04 December 2019New dates for Climate Emergency drop-ins

Rescheduled public events to discuss the creation of Somerset’s first Climate Emergency Strategy have been confirmed.

The ‘Have your say’ drop-ins will take place in each District Council area in January and February, being run by the Somerset Climate Action Network (SCAN) on behalf of Somerset’s four District Councils and the County Council.

Earlier this year, all five councils declared or recognised ‘climate emergencies’, agreeing to work together to produce a joint Climate Emergency Strategy. The strategy will identify ways for Somerset to work towards being carbon neutral by 2030 and adapt to predicted climate change impacts.

The events will be held on Saturdays, between 10am and 4pm at the following venues:

  • 18 January, Somerset West and Taunton. The Glassbox, Taunton Library, Paul Street, TA1 3XZ.
  • 8 February, Sedgemoor District Council. The Sedgemoor Room, Bridgwater House, King Square, Bridgwater, TA6 3AR.
  • 15 February, Mendip District Council. The Council Chamber, Mendip District Council Offices, Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT.
  • 22 February, South Somerset District Council. Vicarage Street Methodist Church, Vicarage Street, Yeovil, BA20 1JB.

Open to residents, businesses, groups and anyone with an interest, the drop-ins will be a chance to discuss the initial thoughts of the five councils set out in a ‘framework’ document.

They will be seeking feedback on whether the work so far focusses on the right areas, covers everything it should and whether there are actions that communities could take forward themselves. An online survey will also be available between 6 January and 19 February.

These events were initially due to take place before Christmas but have been rescheduled for the New Year due to the restrictions on local authority publicity and consultation in the run-up to elections.

21 November 2019Bathing water quality at Sedgemoor’s beaches

Both Brean Beach and Berrow Beach have been classified Excellent under the revised Bathing Water Directive.  

Berrow North of Unity Farm has improved from a Good to Excellent.

The Environment Agency monitors water quality from May to September at over 400 bathing waters.

There are four water quality classifications - Excellent, Good, Sufficient and Poor. These are set according to the level of bacteria in the water based on guidelines produced by the World Health Organisation to protect health.

Up to 4 years of results from 2016 - 2019 are combined to let you know how clean the water is over that time. Classifications can be found on signs displayed at designated bathing waters by local councils. The Environment Agency also makes the results available online.

The consortium consists of the Environment, Wessex Water, Sedgemoor District Council, Burnham Town Council, Natural England, the Internal Drainage Board, Litter Free Coast & Sea Somerset, Surfers Against Sewerage, local tourism groups and the National Farmers Union to try and reduce the possible sources of pollution affecting the beach at Burnham.

18 November 2019Revised Christmas waste collections

11 November 2019Superfast broadband public consultation launched

A public consultation has been launched by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) ahead of undertaking a fresh procurement to find contractors to provide superfast broadband.

CDS, which is responsible for rolling out broadband across the two counties, is establishing the remaining area where there are no current or credible future plans to deliver Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband infrastructure capable of download speeds of at least 30Mbps.

To establish the existing coverage of broadband infrastructure in the programme area as well as that planned for the next three years, CDS carried out an Open Market Review (OMR) earlier this year. This included commercial coverage by existing and prospective broadband providers as well as coverage procured through CDS contracts.

This has helped CDS to establish the area where intervention is to be proposed, avoiding areas where commercial investment is planned as public investment in broadband can only take place in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure and where none is planned in the next three years. Comments on these proposals are now invited.

Consultation responses need to be submitted by Tuesday 10 December to enquiries@connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk. or in writing to OMR consultation, Economy Team, AB2 Lucombe House, County Hall, Exeter, EX2 4QD.

The consultation will enable broadband providers to review the mapping to ensure it correctly represents the information provided by them. Full details on how to respond are available at https://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/cds-2019-omr-public-consultation/

Responses to the consultation will help inform the final premises CDS will seek solutions for when it launches a new procurement in December.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills and CDS board member, said: “We’re keen to extend the availability of Next Generation Access infrastructure across the CDS area, and this public consultation will enable us to set out the proposed areas where we will need to focus our efforts.

“Having carried out our Open Market Review we have asked all known broadband infrastructure providers for their existing and potential plans for new network build in our area.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “This is an opportunity for broadband providers to review these proposals so that we can understand the capacity and capability of the market, but we would welcome all public feedback through this consultation.

“Our priority is to ensure that public funding has the biggest impact in increasing coverage and ensuring more areas can benefit from higher speed broadband.”

Nearly one million homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset now have access to superfast broadband thanks to the Government supported CDS programme and stimulation of the commercial market which is an important element of CDS’s role.

Of these, over 300,000 homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by CDS.

For more information go to https://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/cds-2019-omr-public-consultation/

 

11 November 2019Surviving Winter

As we head into winter, many of us face an expensive – but essential - bill for heating our homes, while many of our neighbours face a stark decision between eating and heating: a shocking one in eight households in Somerset live in fuel poverty. Thanks to the bright idea of one generous pensioner, hundreds of older people in Somerset are being supported to stay warm, safe and well every winter through Somerset Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign.

The campaign encourages people who don’t need their Winter Fuel Payment to donate some or all of it to help local older people who are unable to afford to heat their homes.

Last year, over 500 elderly people living in Somerset were helped through the cold winter months, thanks to generous local donors who donated over £100,000 to Surviving Winter.

Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) are also taking part in The Big Give, and online donations to the campaign that are made during the week-long Big Give Christmas Challenge - midday Tuesday 3 December to midday Tuesday 10 December - will be doubled! So, not only will your donation be worth twice as much, but even more older and isolated people across the county will feel warmer and better connected this winter.

If you would like to donate to Surviving Winter, visit www.somersetcf.org.uk/winter or call 01749 344949.

03 November 2019Council Tax scam by text

Please be aware that Sedgemoor District Council have had reports a company who are texting messages to members of the public, stating a refund is pending for council tax.  This is a scam and should be deleted.   They ask residents to follow the link provided to claim their refund.  The first screen asks customers to confirm their details, followed by the second screen asking for members of the public to enter their bank account details. 

SDC would never ask for personal details by text.

Council Tax bands are set by the Valuation Office Agency and can only be changed under certain conditions. Details can be found at www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals.   If you think your band is wrong, contact the Valuation Office Agency - you will not be charged for the service.

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill and need help, speak with a member of the Council Tax Team on who will be able to offer help and advice on 0300 303 7801.

If you have given over personal details, we would advise you to call the Police straight away on 101 and report the matter as an identity theft scam. The Police will also direct you to the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.

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