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County Council welcomes £2 billion support for Hinkley

The Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, David Hall has welcomed today’s announcement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, saying it is very positive news for the county and the country.

The Chancellor insisted new nuclear power stations are essential to make sure the lights stay on as he gave the green light to the initial government guarantee for the first such plant in Britain for 20 years.

The new government guarantee, provided by Infrastructure UK is set to be worth around £2 billion and will pave the way for a final investment decision by energy company EDF Energy.

We warmly welcome today’s announcement from the Chancellor. This is yet another major milestone for the Hinkley Point C project, which will bring significant benefits to Somerset’s economy, communities and infrastructure.

Today’s news marks another important step forward and we remain confident Hinkley Point C will go ahead and now await the final investment decision.

The construction and operation of the plant will bring millions of pounds-worth of investment in our infrastructure and our communities will be set to benefit hugely from the creation of thousands of jobs in Somerset.

We will continue to work closely with our district council colleagues, EDF Energy, local communities, and Central Government to play our part in paving the way for this historic development.

– David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council

Somerset's new community flood support boat needs a name - can you help?

Somerset's new community flood support boat needs a name - can you help? Credit: Somerset County Council

People in Somerset are being asked to come up with a name for the county's new community flood support boat.

A similar vessel was a lifeline during last year's floods and, when it's not involved in rescues, it will be used by disabled people.

The winner will get a chance to steer the boat themselves.

People have until noon on Thursday 23 April to submit names to Somerset County Council, which will then be shortlisted for public vote.

I think we can all agree that ‘community flood support boat’ is not a very catchy name! That’s why we’re appealing for your help in finding a new one.

Let’s not forget what this boat represents. A similar vessel provided a lifeline to residents who had no other way of reaching their homes during the terrible floods of 2014. It transported everyone from schoolchildren and commuters to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

When it’s not being used as a rescue boat, this Wheelyboat is fully adapted for wheelchair use and will be used to help disabled people access the water.

This is a boat for the community of Somerset, so it’s only right that the community gets to choose its name.

So whether you’re a pupil at school, a local resident who was affected by the floods or just a member of the public with a really good idea, please get in touch and let us know what you think it should be called.

– Paula Hewitt, Somerset County Council’s Director and Lead Commissioner for Economic and Community Infrastructure


Somerset County Council responds to the report

Julian Wooster, who took up the post of Director of Children's Services just two weeks ago has responded to Ofsted's criticisms.

We fully accept the key findings of this Ofsted inspection and the short-comings it highlights.

Services are not good enough and improvements need to be made quickly and I am here to help make that happen. Accepting all the criticism in this report, we must also look at the positives. There are examples of good practice, signs that we are starting to turn a corner. We are building on those signs of improvement but it has to happen faster. It’s a difficult time for Children’s Services and our partners in Somerset but we are not alone – few authorities don’t have improvements to make. Our social workers do a very difficult job and much of my focus will be on supporting and developing them, while challenging them to improve.

Productive partnership working will be another immediate priority. Protecting children is everybody’s responsibility. The council is pivotal but there are many agencies involved and we all need to be performing well and working closely together.

Children deserve better, the inspectors demand better and we, the County Council and our partners, are all committed to safeguarding and improving outcomes for children in Somerset.

– Julian Wooster, Director of Children’s Services

Ofsted rates Somerset's Children's Services as inadequate

Ofsted has published a damning report into the quality of children's services in Somerset, rating it as inadequate.

The education watchdog says there had been a "corporate failure to keep children safe in Somerset", and said the "continual churn" in the senior leadership team had stopped the development of the service and severely restricted progress.

The education watchdog says there had been a "corporate failure to keep children safe in Somerset". Credit: PA

There are widespread or serious failures which cause children to be harmed or at risk of harm and in the delivery of services for looked after children and care leavers which result in their welfare not being safeguarded and promoted.

Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures

– Ofsted

How the County Council ranked:

  • Children who need help and protection - Inadequate
  • Children looked after and achieving permanence - Inadequate
  • Adoption performance - Requires improvement
  • Experiences and progress of care leavers - Inadequate
  • Leadership, management and governance - Inadequate


Ofsted: Somerset Children's Services 'inadequate'

Two of Somerset's Children's Centres were judged inadequate by Ofsted Credit: PA

Ofsted has published a damning report into the quality of children's services in Somerset.

The education watchdog says the county council is "not providing good enough support for its most vulnerable young people and families".

One third of the 39 places inspected were seen as less than good with six of them judged inadequate. Somerset County Council says it will make urgent improvements.

We looked at provision for 13,500 children - that's the number of children whose lives are touched by those children's centres and both those centres were inadequate. So really quite shocking statistics in terms of the number of children who are not getting what they need ".

– Bradley Simmons, Ofsted Regional Director

Local govt campaigner takes his fight to Somerset CC

David Orr is campaigning for a fairer system in local government Credit: ITV News

A local government campaigner will speak to Somerset County Council today to try to persuade it not to arrange long term appointments with people who work for their own limited companies.

David Orr says the current system allows the very highly paid to pay a lower rate of tax.

  1. West Country (E)

A358 priority for improvements

The Leaders of Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council have welcomed news that the A358 is now being looked at as a priority for improvements.

The Highways Agency is currently carrying out phase 2 of a feasibility study to consider improving the A303/A30/A358 and had initially identified five stretches to look at in detail.

It has now been announced that the section of A358 between Southfields Roundabout at Ilminster and the M5 at Taunton will also be included as part of phase 2.

It is expected that the Highways Agency will publish their findings in time for the Government’s Autumn Statement, which will reveal the next round of funding allocations for future projects.

Anyone who regularly drives along the A303/A358 corridor will know that improvements are much needed and that’s why we as a council have been lobbying the Government to take action.

I’m delighted this section of the A358 has been added as one of the priority areas. We will now see what happens in the autumn, but I’m pleased to hear that the Government is listening to us in Somerset.

– Cllr John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council

This is excellent news as improvements to the A358 and junction 25 have been recognised as major impediments to our ambitious regeneration plans and economic development, so high on my agenda.

I have long pressed for improvement to this road and junction and it is great to see it move up the agenda, also that it is now being actively considered by the Highways Agency with the expectation of consideration in the Government's Autumn Statement.

Any improvements to this route will be welcomed by motorists and residents to relieve the daily misery of the intolerable queues and delays and the resultant pollution. This major step forward is welcomed by the Borough Council.

– Cllr John Williams, Leader of Taunton Dean Borough Council
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