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Council pays more than £1.8m compensation over single pothole claim

Potholes like this (not the one involved in the claim) cost the council thousands in compensation. Credit: ITV West Country

Somerset County Council has paid out more than £1.8million in compensation over a single claim involving a pothole.

The Council handed the "general damages" to a third party following an accident on a road it manages.

The payout was revealed by a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by the Somerset County Gazette newspaper.

The TaxPayers' Alliance says the payout reveals the level of "waste" and "inefficiency" across councils.

We are lucky to have freedom of information requests to find this information out and force the council to do better.

– James Price, campaign manager, TaxPayers' Alliance

The council says it cannot go into further detail about the claim due to legal reasons.

The FoI request shows an increase in the amount paid out by the council in recent years.

  • 2014-15: £171,425 paid out to 28 claimants
  • 2015-16: £895,716 paid out to 33 claimants
  • 2015-16: more than £2.1m paid out to 31 claimants

Apart from potholes, other common claims include drains and erosion of roads.

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Don't get caught out! Somerset Council warns of bogus callers

People should hang up without giving away any personal details

People in Somerset are being warned to watch out for bogus callers claiming be from the County Council.

It says residents are being asked for information for an NHS survey relating to an accident. The council says they should hang up without releasing any personal details.

They can also report the call to Devon and Somerset Trading Standards.

Let me be clear, this is not a Somerset County Council employee.

Please, if you receive a call which sounds similar to this one, don’t give out any personal details and end the call right away.

– Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council

How do I know if it’s a scam?

Trading Standards advises you to ask yourself the following – if you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, there is a good chance someone is trying to scam you – in which case you should hang up.

  • Was the offer unsolicited?
  • Do I have to respond straight away?
  • Do I have to ring a premium rate number?
  • Do I have to give my bank or credit card details?
  • Is the business reluctant to give their address or contact details?
  • Am I being asked to keep it confidential?
  • Does it look too good to be true?

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

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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

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
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