Covid a year on - North Somerset Council

Weston-super-Mare Town Hall. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Weston-super-Mare Town Hall. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council is investing in infrastructure to help the area recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday marked one year since the country went into lockdown, but the council has managed to adapt and change its way of working during the pandemic.

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Social distanced seating has been in place in the Italian Gardens. Picture: Nick Page Hayman

Social distanced seating has been in place in the Italian Gardens. Picture: Nick Page Hayman - Credit: Nick Page. Hayman.

Its spokesman said: "One of the main points to make is how quickly staff adapted to new ways of working and continued to work incredibly hard to keep on delivering vital services to our communities.

"Given the circumstances we’ve faced we have had to look again at some of the ambitions we’d set out for the area in our corporate plan but the recently agreed budget will deliver better outcomes for local people.

"That budget will see millions of pounds invested in projects which will have a positive impact for our residents. The past year has brought new challenges for everyone but this budget is a commitment to building an open, fairer and greener organisation on a sound financial footing.

"We are investing in projects to support community infrastructure, business, tourism and cultural recovery, the climate emergency, active travel, and improving outcomes for vulnerable adults and children.

"The pandemic has changed things locally, bringing new social, health, environmental and economic challenges to address. Our budget protects the services that will help our communities to recover and thrive, while also investing in tangible projects that will bring quality to people's lives and make North Somerset a better place to live –  now and in the future.

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"We are committed to caring for vulnerable people and providing for everyone."

Social distanced seating has been in place in the Italian Gardens. Picture: Nick Page Hayman

Social distanced seating has been in place in the Italian Gardens. Picture: Nick Page Hayman - Credit: Nick Page. Hayman.

The authority achieved a number of highlights in the past 12 months which included distributing 1.2 million items of personal protective equipment to health and care services when it was in short supply and providing £10million of additional support; helping the increasing number of families who are struggling by extending welfare support so they can continue to receive free school meals for their children outside term-time and supporting local business by distributing tens of millions of pounds in grants.

The council also achieved the Unicef gold standard for breastfeeding and infant care, underpinning its commitment to giving children the best start in life, while its housing teams have helped more than 130 people off the streets and into safe accommodation since the pandemic began.

MORE: Al fresco dining in Italian Gardens and for Clevedon and Portishead.

The council's spokesman added: "Directly related to the pandemic we supported the setting-up of two mobile testing units with minimal notice and developed the new community rapid testing service; and we’ve given advice and support to settings which have experienced coronavirus outbreaks to ensure all health protection measures are in place.

"Climate change will affect all of us and we were the first council in the South West to be recognised for our carbon literacy - this training is empowering our officers to make better decisions in their day-to-day work.

"That training will continue and we will also continue to push out those really important messages about what our residents can do to cut their carbon emissions.

"Active travel is a key priority for the council because it supports the climate emergency targets and encourages healthier and active lifestyles.

"Last year saw us come up with some initiatives to make sure residents could enjoy the great outdoors - we put in place social-distancing measures in public spaces to enable people to move safely in areas with higher footfall. We were one of only two councils to get reward funding in both rounds of the active travel fund.

"Coronavirus has affected us all and sadly the epidemic has claimed many lives. It has taken away the freedoms we take for granted but better times are undoubtedly ahead as lockdown is eased and the vaccination programme continues to be rolled out."