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.
10 September - CHAC goes digital for Heritage Open Days
This year, our Community Heritage Access Centre (CHAC) is going online for one of the first ever digital events to take part in England’s largest annual festival of history and culture, giving you the opportunity to explore some of the hidden gems housed there.
The online tour, filmed and designed exclusively for the Heritage Open Days festival and expertly guided by Heritage Co-ordinator, Joseph Lewis, gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the CHAC from the comfort and safety of your own home.
A digital programme for Heritage Open Days has been created and CHAC have produced their online tour based around the theme of “Hidden Nature” including objects linked to the Yeovil area from the collection.
This event is also part of this year’s national theme, Hidden Nature, which is encouraging everyone to discover the nature that exists on their doorsteps. Led by the Joseph, participants will get an in-depth look at the wildlife and the hidden history of Yeovil, including a look at The Angel Inn panel from the early 17th century.
Responding to the unique circumstances of 2020, this is the first year that Heritage Open Days has included digital events. “We have seen some ingenious approaches to culture going digital recently, and we’re excited by the potential for Heritage Open Days, not least of all because so many more people will be able to experience the festival regardless of where they are in the country”, says Annie Reilly, Head of Producing at Heritage Open Days.
CHAC are making the most of the new digital options available, with this behind-the-scenes tour, opening areas of the building which cannot otherwise be accessed by the public at the moment. The twelve minute video will be viewable on our Facebook account and also on our YouTube account from Monday 14 September.
Heritage Open Days run from the 11-20th September this year.
2 September - South West councils make urgent call for leisure centre funding
South Somerset District Council is working in partnership with local authorities across the South West in urgently calling on the Government to provide funding to safeguard the future of leisure centres.
They are asking ministers to approve a funding submission to help local authorities meet the costs of reopening and operating leisure centres across the country caused by the lockdown and ongoing impact of Covid-19.
Local authorities across the South West are making the formal plea following the reopening of some leisure centres while many leisure centres remain closed.
Centres which have reopened or partially reopened are facing substantial increased costs due to additional Covid-secure measures they have had to put in place, including limiting customer numbers and reduced opening hours.
Some leisure providers are reporting up to 50 per cent drops in income which are predicted to continue into the next two years.
Councils which are members of the South West Leisure Group are warning that the government needs to act now before the furloughing scheme ends this autumn and it is too late for the sector.
Under government funding announced last month, only around a quarter of councils will be able to recover a proportion of the income that has been lost as a result of the pandemic.
Many councils have been or are being asked to provide financial support to keep these companies and organisations financially viable and allow them to open up, but in many cases, Council simply do not have the funds.
27 August - 2000 children benefit from our Summer Playboxes
Children from across South Somerset, yet again, enjoyed free summer school activities courtesy of South Somerset District Council.
This year, due to Covid-19, the usual PlayDay events that are held throughout the summer holidays had to be cancelled, but that didn’t stop PlayBox activity boxes being handed out for families to enjoy.
SSDC’s Locality Team worked hard to provide play boxes to children that ranged from arts & crafts and baking to environmental activities and outdoor play.
The activity boxes were distributed at four collection points across the district, the first being at Kingsbury Episcopi Recreation Ground near Langport, followed by Cale Park in Wincanton, Jocelyn Park in Chard and Yeovil Recreation Centre. In total, 2,000 boxes were produced, 1,850 were collected at our collection points and the remaining boxes from these events have been distributed to food banks to help families who might be struggling and need their services.
South Somerset District Council, Yarlington Housing Association and Yeovil Town Council have hosted PlayDays, YouthDays and the School’s Out programme in South Somerset for many years, providing joy to thousands of our residents.
It was with great sadness that these events had to be cancelled this year to ensure the safety of our residents and staff from Covid-19. However, all was not lost, as we provided our safe play alternative, the PlayBox.
24 July - Introducing this year's safe summer Playdays alternative - PlayBox!
We are pleased to announce that, this year, we will be providing free play activities to children in South Somerset with PlayBox.
Unfortunately, this year we have had to cancel our Playdays, YouthDays and School’s Out summer activities due to Covid-19. However, all is not lost, we are still providing South Somerset families with play alternatives this summer with PlayBox.
Further information can be found here.
24 July - Gyms and leisure centres reopening across South Somerset
Gym and leisure facilities will open to customers from 8am on Saturday 25 July at Goldenstones and Westlands in Yeovil, as well as Wincanton Sports Centre. However, we have had to take the practical decision to keep the pools at Goldenstones and Wincanton closed for just a few more weeks.
As a District Council, we are slowly but surely reopening our services that had to close due to Covid-19. Government timelines have dictated some of the reopenings, but facilities that have recently reopened to the public include the use of our play areas, recreational facilities such as pitch & putt at Yeovil Recreation Centre plus our café facility at Yeovil Country Park.
Whilst many facilities have reopened and leisure centres are reopening from Saturday, the swimming pools at Goldenstones in Yeovil, and Wincanton Sports Centre are set to remain closed until at least September, subject to review. We fully understand that many residents will be keen to get their feet wet again, but most operators will be taking a similar measured approach to reopening leisure facilities.
For gym members of most LED Community Leisure run centre, you will still be able to use the gym facilities, but again, things will be very different and you are encouraged to download the ‘LED Leisure’ app and refer to recent emails from LED. Measures have been put in place at all centres to ensure gym users’ risk of infection is reduced including social distancing, limiting the time in the gym, more cleaning products available for use, pre-booking sessions via the app and having a one-way system in place.
Further information can be found here.
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.
6 July - Westlands Entertainment Venue reopening for film screenings
Westlands Entertainment Venue has announced that the Yeovil venue will reopen to the public from Monday 6th July for film screenings in line with government guidance to reopen cinemas.
The venue, operated by South Somerset District Council, has announced safety measures that will maintain social distancing. They will be operating with a reduced capacity and additional cleaning measures will be in place. Screenings will take place in the ballroom using a sofa configuration.
6 July - Services for up to 20 people safely offered at Yeovil Crematorium
Services for up to 20 people can be safely offered at Yeovil Crematorium from Monday 6 July.
Additional steps are being taken at Yeovil Crematorium to ensure public safety in light of new Government guidance regarding social distancing.
Our team at the Crematorium is doing all it can to ensure that services in the chapel can accommodate up to 20 people for services from Monday 6 July.
Due to the space limitations in the chapel, up to 10 people will be able to be seated while a further 10 will be able to stand during services.
View further information, including the Government restrictions in place, here.
4 July - Restrictions lifted in many playparks and play spaces
Restrictions will be lifted in many of South Somerset’s playparks and play spaces from Saturday 4 July.
As part of the Government’s proposals to ease some of the lockdown restrictions which have been in place since March, play areas can once again open to the public as long as a number of safety measures have been put in place.
As part of this work, our teams have been:
- Carrying out detailed safety inspections of all our sites
- Continued maintenance to ensure the equipment is safe (and this has included the provision of new equipment in some areas)
- Setting up a schedule of final inspections for all sites including installing new temporary signage to ensure public safety
We would ask residents not to use any of the sites until our teams have removed barriers or the cable ties which have been securing gates and entrances.
If you find a site remains closed, there will be a reason and it is likely to be safety related. We will be reviewing all sites on a regular basis to ensure they can all be safely opened.
Remember, the district council does not own all playparks in the district as town or parish councils operating some sites while play areas may also be in private ownership. Other councils, or private owners, may determine that their sites cannot safely reopen at this time.
Find more information here.
29 June - Sad decision taken to cancel summer Play Days - but new activities are coming
Playdays and other summer activities have brought joy to people in the area for the last 10 years, and it is with great sadness that they will not be happening this year due to restrictions for public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alternative fun and safe activities are being explored to provide play for families in South Somerset such as online play activities, much like our learning activities which can be found at www.southsomerset.gov.uk/childrensactivities. We will provide more details shortly.
23 June - Joint work with Wassail to help theatre makers during lockdown
Wassail and South Somerset District Council’s Arts Engagement team are collaborating on this commission for Somerset-based theatre makers at the beginning of their professional career. It is part of Somerset Emergency Theatre, a programme of activity designed to ensure artists and audiences in Somerset can survive lockdown.
12 June - Measures put in place to help high streets safely reopen
With Covid-19 lockdown restrictions relaxing, South Somerset District Council (SSDC) is putting measures in place to prepare for the phased reopening of non-essential retail businesses on Monday 15 June.
SSDC is engaging with a range of groups including businesses, town councils and shoppers to ensure the safest possible experience when visiting the district’s high streets.
To create safe shopping spaces SSDC will be using money from the European Regional Development Fund for Reopening High Streets Safely to introduce measures including temporary barriers and signage as well as reviewing street furniture. Car parks will be open as usual.
3 June - Ninesprings Café reopen for takeaway
We are pleased to announce that we are able to reopen Ninesprings Café, in Yeovil Country Park, for takeaway services.
The café will be open daily 10am to 4am and a menu will be available at the entrance.
Further information, including safety measures put in place, can be found here.
3 June - Pest control services now available
Our pest control service is now available. Please note that there is currently at least a four week wait time for this service and initial contact from a Pest Control Officer may take up to five working days. We appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.
1 June - Lufton nursery reopen for summer plant sale
Our fantastic team are ready to welcome you at Lufton Nursery, which is now open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 10pm for plant sales.
Find out more about the wonderful selection on offer, as well as how to safely order and collect, here.
26 May - Stray dog service back up and running
We are pleased to say that our stray dog service with St Giles Animal Centre is now back up and running.
If you have found a stray or lost dog, report it to us online.
14 May - A thank you from our councillors
Our elected members have been sharing their messages of thanks across social media to all residents for their help in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
12 May - A presentation from Chief Executive, Alex Parmley
Our Chief Executive, Alex Parmley, gave a summary of the actions we have taken in response to COVID-19 in a meeting with Councillors earlier this month.
- Sending out almost 500 food parcels of vital supplies
- Ensuring thousands of businesses received more than £28M in grants
- Supporting almost 200 people at risk of homelessness
- Redeploying almost 100 staff to roles directly supporting our communities
- Setting up a directory to find local businesses providing food and drink
12 May - South Somerset Food & Drink Directory during COVID-19
We have produced an online directory of food and drink businesses who are operating during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are aware that businesses are providing a positive service to local residents and wish to support them by offering some extra publicity.
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