I have now met with Phil Poulton, the SSDC Tree Officer. The storm damage to the Oak in Oak Tree Park is obviously very severe, with the main crown of the tree failing and taking off all of the lower branches on one side. It was very unbalanced and a further, lower limb has failed since it was fenced off.
Despite this, Phil recommends that we see if the tree can be saved. Oaks are quite good at regenerating and, although this one has few obvious buds, it’s worth taking a couple of years to find out. The suggestion is to stabilise the tree structure by using storm replication/retrenchment pruning techniques. This involves reducing the length of the remaining limbs (to reduce wind loading and to compensate for the loss of “mechanical damping”). Hopefully, in time the tree to produce new growth. This level of emergency work maybe possible without a TPO application.
We took a wider look around and the Oak in the play area also needs some work (it’s much weakened by fungus), so a TPO application to allow further retrenchment might be prudent.
The lightning-damaged Oak which sits on the green between Forde Park and Muchelney Way appears to have Meripilus giganteous at the base. That’s a very nasty fungus which eats away the very big structural roots – no need to do anything hasty but a TPO application to do a second crown reduction may be needed (Phil saved this tree when it was split in two and it has recovered to a nice shape, hopefully the same will happen again).
Gas generation starts at Walpole Digester
Deliveries of food waste to the anaerobic digester commenced on 20th August as part of the commissioning process. The amount of food waste will be increased gradually over the commissioning period until the point where all food waste arisings collected by SWP from the county will be received.
The plant is already producing gas in low quantities. The first of the gas engines is being installed and will be able to commence electricity production once the volume of food input and gas output have increased sufficiently over the coming weeks. The commissioning period is expected to last 3-6 months.
For more details of the plant click here
Fly-tipping figures released today [15 October 2013] by the government show incidents county-wide have dropped by 497 or 8.7% from 5,687 to 5,190.
South Somerset’s fall has carried on into the first three months of this financial year, down by 114 to 338 on the same period last year, and down by 94 on January-March 2013. All Somerset districts saw improved figures in 2012/13; as well as South Somerset, Mendip was down 73 to 1,631, Sedgemoor down 306 to 1,161, Taunton Deane down 42 to 646, and West Somerset down 71 to 93.
The improvements were first reported to the Somerset Waste Board four months ago in June, and follows a path previously predicted by board chairman Cllr Derek Yeomans. The fall has coincided with greater efforts to deter fly-tippers, through new equipment, warning signs and further training for district enforcement officers, backed by Somerset County Council.
South Somerset and other councils are moving to reduce the fly-tipping “supply” by urging residents and businesses to check if those removing rubbish – such as builders – have the correct waste carrier’s licence. Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Economic Development said, “Building on this good news, this district will continue to fight fly-tipping, with our enforcement staff leading the way in tackling this crime. You can play a vital role by reporting suspicious activity and giving evidence, as this remains a tough crime to deter or prosecute. We must ensure that our countryside is kept looking beautiful. One thing we can all do is to ensure our own household or business rubbish is not fly-tipped; just ask anyone taking it away – builders, gardeners and other tradespeople – for their waste carrier licence.”
Clearing up Somerset’s fly-tipping costs South Somerset and the other district councils a total of around £150,000 a year, with the County Council contributing about £36,000 in 2012/13.
English Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are predicting greater investment according to the latest Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) Barometer. Half (50%) of the 682 companies questioned expect to spend more on new machinery and premises over the next six months.
“This sense of optimism is also present when it comes to employing new staff. 43% of SMEs (up 3% on the last report) are planning to hire new people with a further 50% expecting to keep workforce levels the same.” said David Caddle, spokesman for the Manufacturing Advisory Service.
Your local councillors (Parish, District and County) are working together with YTFC to try to reduce the match day problems, but we recognise that any fix is dependent on help from the Police and from County Highways. The councils’ main concerns are:
- safety for pedestrians,
- getting the bus route roads working and
- allowing residents to get in and out.
The key messages to supporters are:
- Walk if you can, car share if you can’t
- Try to park at the ground
- Park well clear of bus stops, crossings and junctions so that the roads can work
The new page (click here) explains all.
Looking for Charity Work or just trying to “put something back”?
Abbey Manor Community Centre urgently needs another Booking Secretary because Debbie’s (full-time) job has changed and she won’t be able to continue next term.
This is a voluntary (i.e. unpaid) post and it involves handling telephone inquiries and making bookings, keeping the centre’s diary up-to-date and key handling. Typically, the bookings are for parties, charities and meetings, regular hall users are usually on long contracts handled by the Committee.
The Booking Secretary is a responsible post requiring someone reliable and who is of “good standing”. We provide all of the facilities needed (phone, ICT, keysafe and training. Previous booking secretaries are still around to provide help and holiday cover and the Association’s Secretary and Treasurer are available to provide advice and guidance. This is very much a team effort. The Committee all gets together about once a month in the Parish Room at 8pm.
If you want more information, or if you think I should approach a specific person, please let me know. My contact details are repeated at www.abbeymanorcc.org … or just “google me”.
(as Abbey Community Association Chairman)
Since 2010, more than one million jobs have been created in the private sector. We are proud of the role that the Liberal Democrats have played in directing government investment into job creation and training.
We are now focusing our efforts on improving this record and delivering a million more new jobs as we continue to build a stronger economy for the future.
Jobs for Young People
The coalition government has already delivered 1.2 million apprenticeships for young people since 2010. The Liberal Democrats are now campaigning to double the number of apprenticeships being offered.
Jobs in Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the key to a sustainable economic recovery in Britain. Under Vince Cable at the Dept for Business, Innovation and Skills, we have directed an extra investment of over £5.5 billion into high-tech manufacturing, science and renewable energy.
Jobs across the UK
Liberal Democrats have long argued that we need to rebalance the economy away from our reliance on London and South East England. That is why we have also set up the £2.6 billion Regional Growth Fund initiative, to help create businesses, jobs and economic recovery in every part of the country.
Jobs Building Britain
The coalition is using £15.3 billion of investment into our infrastructure to build a stronger economy for the future and to create thousands of jobs in construction right now.
For more information on the Liberal Democrats’ record in creating one million new jobs, and to find out how many new jobs are being created near you, visit the Million Jobs website: http://www.amillionjobs.org
I’ve just been doing some hunting round to work up a comparison of the Somerset districts basic Council Tax. The graph below includes the very significant County Council tax, the Police precept, the Fire and Rescue Service Precept and each District’s own Council Tax element. It does not include the local Parish or Town Council precept, which can vary widely.
Those of you with very acute eyesight will detect that South Somerset does actually have a very, very slightly higher tax level For a Band D property it’s £9.46 a year or 0.6% higher than Mendip, equivalent to 18p a week. I hope that’s not enough to make anyone want to move there!
I thought you might be interested in reading the response from DCLG which I received recently, especially once you know the back-story.
We had noticed that the business rates charged on retail units in Yeovil town centre were high, and very much higher than Peel Retail Park (just off the A30 towards Sherborne). This huge annual cost is putting businesses off moving to Yeovil. As an example this chart shows the current valuation for Vicarage Walk (the Quedam). I’ve deliberately hidden the specifics as this is highly commercially sensitive but, yes, one business actually pays more than £200,000 every year in property taxes !! (Not to SSDC, I hasten to add. We just collect it for the exchequer).
The way these are set is “odd” with different parts of the shop charged at different rates. For example, some parts of a large, well-established outlet are charged at £9,000 per square metre !!! Remember that it’s the larger unit which might be attractive to the national chains stores that shoppers want to see in the town centre.
The last review in 2010 was based on rental values from 2008 when rents were arguably at their peak, particularly true for the Quedam Centre. Since that time, premises left empty by failed businesses and movement to out of town sites has resulted in many larger units with high rateable values being almost impossible to re-let. Worse, the managers operating the property portfolio are given bonuses according to the value (or nominal rent) of the property, not the actual rent collected. That means it’s in their interests to keep pushing business costs up.
The Government’s announcement postponing the 2015 business rates revaluation until 2017 is incredibly bad news for Yeovil Town Centre. Although clearly there will be winners and losers, on balance the declining rental values in the high street means that businesses in these locations will now be paying the current level of business rates, based on unrealistic rent levels, for another four years.
In the light of all this, I spoke to Danny Alexander MP and to Don Foster MP earlier this year, asking them to take another look at the mechanism of setting rates from rents, if the latter were being inflated by managers. I also asked them to look at the “cliff edge” effect whereby in a small-medium town, out-of-town rates on large retail units were set so much lower than the High Street. The enquiry was passed on straight away, one of the advantages of talking directly to ministers.
The response seems to miss the point completely. As you will see, the Treasury feels it has done enough. Some specific relief for new-build shops and for hardship or last-man-standing businesses. I will keep at this but nothing good yet.