Actions we have taken
On this page you will find a summary of actions we've taken during the coronavirus pandemic, following Government advice.
Our communities and businesses really need us at this time. They expect us to deliver for them and so do others such as the government. This is particularly true of the most vulnerable in our communities. And that is what we will do.
Aside from the actions noted below we can confirm all our services are running as normal apart from some staffing issues in our Environmental Services and Locality teams. Remember, Our play parks are closed and we ask you to ensure your children do not enter these areas.
Call volumes remain high so please be patient and use our online services or contact forms wherever possible.
We will regularly update this page with everything happening at SSDC, so please use the dropdowns below for further information.
Great work currently underway
Our Connect team are helping, on average, 500 people who are calling us or using our website every day. We're helping businesses, answering your questions about Council Tax, benefits and more.
As of 5pm on Monday 30 March, we have received more than applications for Business Support Grants. The team is now working hard to process these as quickly as possible.
Securing new properties from private landlords at very short notice to ensure anyone at risk of homelessness has somewhere to stay
We have engaged with anyone currently sleeping rough to either help them into emergency accommodation, or enable them to self-isolate safely with support from local agencies and charities.
A team of officers is working around the clock to set up a wellbeing hub to support those being “shielded” who have been identified as high risk due to underlying health conditions, and others that our vulnerable in our area. This includes establishing a food warehouse, customer booking system and home delivery service for our shielded and most vulnerable residents.
A message from Council Leader Val Keitch
"I understand that this is a worrying time for many but I want reassure you that my council will be there to support you through it.
We are doing all that we can to ensure all of our services operate as close to normal as possible and we keep pushing forward with key projects.
"This is down to the dedication and hard work of staff from across the Council to make this happen, for which I am really grateful and I truly want to thank them. We have a fantastic workforce at SSDC and we’ve received many messages of support which the whole team appreciate.
"We have had to take some action for public safety. The Octagon Theatre and Westlands are closed and we’ve cancelled some of our countryside and leisure events among other measures including closing playparks. We are following government advice on all matters and public safety is our priority.
"It will undoubtedly be challenging to maintain all services over the coming weeks and so we will be prioritising support for residents, communities and businesses.
"We are already starting to see an increase in demand from people facing hardship due to the virus and its impact on businesses.
We will support you. Please keep visiting our website for our latest news and please get in touch if you need our help. The district councils of Somerset deliver for our communities and we are continuing to work hard to help you through the Coronavirus pandemic. Thank you."
30 April - Yeovil Crematorium reopening for small chapel services
We have taken the decision to partially reopen Yeovil Crematorium to the public from Monday 4th May.
30 April - Extended phone line opening hours
We have extended our phone line opening hours to provide additional support to those needing help during the Coronavirus crisis.
We will now be open between from 8am to 6pm, seven days a week (including Bank Holidays).
Call us on 01935 462462 if you're in South Somerset and need information regarding:
- Business grants
- Waste and recycling collection and disposal
- Financial support
- Access to free food boxes if you're facing financial hardship
- Access to food boxes provided to the vulnerable
You can continue to access our regular services on 01935 462462 from 8:30am to 5pm.
21 April - Crematorium ground to reopen, Environment Team taking on new roles
UPDATE: The Ministry of Justice has today (April 21) confirmed that it will no longer be requiring the closure of burial grounds to the public.
As part of COVID-19 legislation issued in March, the Government ordered anyone responsible for a crematorium or burial ground to ensure that, during the emergency period, the crematorium was closed to members of the public, except for during funerals.
However, we received written instruction today that this part of the legislation could be disregarded.
As such, we can now reopen the grounds of Yeovil Crematorium from tomorrow to those seeking the solace of visiting a grave privately.
The MoJ has also been clear that social distancing guidance should be followed in cemeteries and burial grounds, as with other places.
REDEPLOYMENT OF TEAMS: During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have had to adapt to support our communities as well as ensuring we continue to deliver our services to residents.
Many staff have found themselves redeployed to other parts of the Council in order to provide help where it’s needed most while other members of the team continue to deliver the services our customers expect.
Our Environment team based at Lufton in Yeovil is no exception and has risen to the challenge.
Several members of the team were deployed to the new Wellbeing hub which has seen Westlands in Yeovil converted into a distribution warehouse to get vital food parcels delivered to vulnerable residents. And one member of staff is now solely dedicated to delivering essential personal protective equipment (PPE) to GP surgeries and care homes.
This doesn’t mean their normal work has stopped. A core team are still working hard to make sure the places we live and love are kept tidy and clean. Our Environment team is continuing to keep litter and dog waste bins empty together with removing fly tips around the district. To cope with meeting all these needs some of the horticultural team has also been litter picking across the district to ensure our neighbourhoods are clean and safe for our residents.
Alongside this, our Horticulture and Environment Street Scene Team Leaders are working remotely using phones and laptops from their vans to look out for issues that need attention and keep in touch with staff who are delivering this front line work.
It is also planned for grass cutting to begin again next week while work is also being scoped out to safely implement the planting of summer bedding across the district subject to suppliers.
17 April - Extended phoneline opening hours
We have extended are phoneline opening hours to provide additional support to those needing help during the Coronavirus crisis.
We will now open between the hours of 8am and 6pm seven days a week (including Bank Holidays). We have also set up an online enquiry form for any questions you may have.
Call 01935 462462 if you're in South Somerset and need information regarding:
- Business grants during the Coronavirus crisis
- Access to free food boxes if you're facing financial hardship
- Access to the food boxes being provided to the vulnerable from our Wellbeing Hub
You can also continue to access our normal services on 01935 462462 between 8.30am and 5pm but we are expanding outside of these times to be able to provide further support and help our customers who need particular support in relation to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during this difficult time.
15 April - Free food boxes for those facing financial hardship
9 April - Construction work to continue in Chard after Coronavirus safety checks
6 April - new single phone number, access to wellbeing hub and emergency supplies
A single phone number is now available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils.
The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is now live and will make it easier for people access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, in the current crisis.
A big addition to the district council's additional support is the brand new pop up SSDC Wellbeing Hub which has been set up to supply food parcels and other supplies to South Somerset residents in most urgent need. The Hub is already up and running and more than 30 deliveries have already been made to residents who are shielding or who fit the criteria where they are recognised as vulnerable.
To find out how to access the hub or more information, please use this link
2 April - Emergency wellbeing and money for business
This video really demonstrates the scale of the supplies our brilliant team have pulled together with our partners to be able to help those who are in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is what we are offering:
• Free food parcels to shielded residents (when a requested Government doorstep delivery has not arrived)
• Chargeable food parcels to those vulnerable and in need
• All delivered directly to the doorstep for free
If you need help, email SSDCwellbeing@southsomerset.gov.uk, visit www.southsomerset.gov.uk or call 01935 462462.
We’ll be releasing more information about the hub in the coming days as the operation continues to grow.
Today we have also been able to issue £575,000 in grants to businesses who need support.
If you want to know more about the grants, visit this page.
1 April - Closure of crematorium grounds and business grants
Following the latest Government advice, we have had to close the grounds at the Crematorium to the public.
With COVID-19 placing local businesses under unprecedented pressure, South Somerset District Council is urging companies to access the support available to them.
30 March - debt recovery, care volunteers needed and homelessness
27 March - Government advice on essential travel
The Government has issued new guidance on using green spaces, protecting yourself and others.
Please use the following measures in order to stay safe:
- stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
- you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household
- keep at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times
- gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this
- if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
- take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
The Heart of the South West LEP has updated its guidance for businesses and the self-employed
26 March - Police advice on travelling to open spaces
We have issued notices at our country park sites that you should not be using your car to travel to these sites.
We understand that you want to exercise at our beautiful open spaces. But, after speaking with the police, we can confirm that you must not drive to these sites.
We have been advised that the government restrictions currently in place do not permit you to use your vehicle to travel to specific location to exercise. You are entitled to exercise once daily. This should be from your home address. You should not be driving to a location away from home to carry this out.
Our playparks have also been closed on Government advice.
Please play your part. Stay at home, save the NHS.
For the latest advice, visit socsi.in/V9VFv
25 March - parking for key workers, building control changes, taxi services, pest control and dog warden services
As you will have seen, the Government has agreed that local councils will offer free car parking to key workers including all NHS workers and social care staff during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
We are more than happy to support this guidance and show our support to the workers who are performing vital tasks for those who need dedicated support at this time.
South Somerset District Council agrees it is essential that critical key workers are able to carry out their work without worrying about paying for car parking.
We would ask anyone who is a critical key worker to ask their employer for a note or letter they can clearly display in their vehicle stating who they work and we will ensure they do not receive any penalty notices at this time.
All other charges are being maintained as the Government has insisted that parking enforcement should continue. We have a role to play in discouraging non-essential journeys for public safety.
Thank you for your assistance.
To ensure the safety of our communities, we need our limited Environmental Services team to focus on critical street cleaning works. Therefore, all horticultural work has been suspended until further notice. This includes leaf sweeping, tending to overgrown shrubs, flowerbeds and hedges, grass cutting and inspecting vehicles parked on grass verges. In regards to tree issues, if you are concerned that there may be a risk to life, you can still report a case in the normal way.
24 March - closure of Connect to public
Due to the latest Government advice issued on 23rd March 2020, SSDC play areas are temporarily closed to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Please adhere to this notice for the safety of your children, your family and others around you.
Our country parks are open for you to explore and there are many signs of spring to spot on your walk.
Please ensure you respect everyone’s space and adhere to the 2m social distancing guidelines from anyone that does not live in your household. Thank you.
23 March - suspension of garden waste and Yeovil Crematorium
19 March - including suspension of Chard by-election
18 March - closure of theatres and suspension of volunteering
In the interests of public safety we have:
- Closed the Octagon Theatre, Westlands and Yeovil Recreation Centre (& Galley Café)
- Closed our buildings to the public apart from the Connect hub at Petters Way, Yeovil
- Postponed today’s Regulation Committee meeting and tomorrow’s Area West meeting
- The meeting of Full Council is currently scheduled to go ahead on Thursday evening (further guidance on this will be published shortly)
- Ninesprings Café will be open normal hours but as a takeaway only with waiting lines marked out on the ground and we are asking customers to queue using these guidelines.
- All volunteering activity is suspended for Countryside and Heritage.
- Staff at Ham Hill, Chard Reservoir and Ninesprings are working to keep sites safe and accessible as access to green spaces is going to be of paramount importance to people’s health at this time.
Due to the closure of buildings for the protection of the public, the Customer Access Point in Crewkerne (located in the Crewkerne Town Council building) cannot be accessed and the Customer Access Point in Chard will close from tomorrow (March 18).
It is important to stress to communities that the delivery of vital council services continues. Our brilliant staff are still working hard and our business continuity plans are already being implemented.
You can access a wide range of Council services online at www.southsomerset.gov.uk