15 things we’re very proud of delivering in the past 18 months
What does South Somerset District Council do? It's a question we're often asked and one which we're always happy to answer.
From housing benefits to play parks and community grants to planning, hundreds of incredible people work hard every day to make South Somerset an incredible place to live, play and do business.
Just to be clear, we don't do roads - that's Somerset County Council - but there are an extraordinary number of the things we are doing and we encourage you to visit our website and explore the wide range of services we provide and projects we deliver.
And here's a guide to 15 things we're very proud of from the past 18 months that demonstrate how we continue to deliver for our communities:
- Yeovil Country Park wins top star rating in the Britain in Bloom Pride in Parks - staff and volunteers make this an amazing and beautiful space to visit all year round and this award was deserved recognition for their efforts.
- No cuts to public services - we delivered a budget in 2018 that was balanced and meant that there have been no reductions to services for the 2018/19 financial year.
- More families than ever before took part in our free Play Days programme - we've put on play events from Wincanton to Ilminster, giving thousands the opportunity to take part in a massive range of free activities.
- Delivered a new Council vision to guide all the work we want to do for you - We are one team that is ambitious for South Somerset and we want to be great to work for, excellent to work with, lead the way and deliver for our communities. It's not just words, we truly believe in this and we're making it happen.
- The fully refurbished Westlands Entertainment Venue was re-opened to the public with a fantastic programme for all to enjoy. The Sports Centre was also re-furbished and re-opened for public use, managed by LED Leisure.
- Yeovil won Gold in the 2018 South West In Bloom competition and also picks up the Abiss Memorial Trophy for the best horticultural municipal display in the South West for St Johns Churchyard; the first time winning this trophy.
- We've been helping businesses across South Somerset by hosting social business networking events and providing a programme of workshops for small businesses to improve their profile on the internet with training on Digital Strategy, Web Design plus much more.
- Between April and September 2018, there has been no one in Bed & Breakfast for temporary accommodation, and no use of Bed & Breakfast for families or children. This really is a truly great achievement!
- The Chard Regeneration programme was officially launched with a public consultation taking place to find out what residents, businesses and visitors of Chard wanted to see happen in the town centre and in particular on the Boden Mill site .
- The Yeovil Refresh regeneration programme was launched with the aim of creating a town centre that will be a vibrant place to live, work, shop, learn and visit. The regeneration of Yeovil and progressing the implementation of the project was set as a Priority Project for 2018-19.
- Wilkos and Mark & Spencers in Yeovil were purchased to support our regeneration ambitions and as part of an investment portfolio for the new Commercial Strategy, enabling the Council to become a more commercial organisation and to generate income to continue to provide high quality services.
- We've expanded Yeovil Innovation Centre with the creation of Yeovil Innovation Centre 2 (YIC2), a flexible office space with approximately 9,500sq feet of accommodation space to allow more start up and small businesses working in the high-tech and innovation fields to establish. YIC2 officially opens in November this year.
- Residents benefitted from seeing an increase in the number of affordable homes built in South Somerset. 69 affordable homes were built in the 2017-18 financial year, compared with 59 in the previous year.
- Cartgate Tourist Information Centre won a Gold award for Visitor Information Service of the Year. The centre is extremely popular and sees nearly 70,000 visitors a year, with many tourists and locals looking for information to explore the area and take advantage of the many discounted ticket prices for key events.
- Text alerts have been introduced as reminders for overdue council tax. This is a great way of helping people avoid getting a formal notice and losing their right to pay by instalments and the whole balance becoming due.
That's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of things we are proud of achieving and providing for communities in South Somerset. There has been plenty of other things we have done, including internally transforming the way we work to enable us to deliver services more effectively and efficiently in to the future.
Speaking about the range of services delivered by the Council and the things delivered in the past 18 months, Alex Parmley, Chief Executive of South Somerset District Council said, "Despite the financial challenges the Council has faced, it has continued to deliver great services and projects for the communities we serve, whilst making some radical changes in the way we work and deliver. This is a tribute to the staff of the council who work really hard and are committed to doing their best for South Somerset, our residents and our businesses."
Councillor Val Keitch, Leader of South Somerset District Council added, "The financial constraints placed on local government by falling budgets has been challenging. Changing the way we work has been difficult, but the staff at the council are working hard to continue to deliver the best possible services for our communities in South Somerset."
Whilst there have been many things that we have already delivered, looking forward, there are plenty of ongoing projects which will be delivered and will see results in the coming months or further down the line. For example, the Yeovil Refresh and Chard Regeneration programmes will start to see benefits as the projects are fully implemented and we will also be creating a town centre action plan for Wincanton, as set in our Priority Projects for 2018-19.
We will be setting priorities for the different areas of South Somerset so that going forward, we can meet the different needs of the communities of our area.
We'll be pressing on with becoming more commercial, business like and generating income whilst remaining focussed on supporting and delivering for our communities. This is important to us because it helps us to protect services as far as possible and meet our ambitions to improve life in South Somerset by making investments that will deliver valuable income.
Finally, to better serve you, we will be delivering a brand new website in early 2019 with 24/7 access and a customer portal area which will enable you to better access services and information at a time and place that suits you. You will be able to track the status of requests made and pay for services when needed.