Planning for the next elections, which are scheduled to take place on 6 May 2021, is underway. Local people are invited to sign up now to fill a number of essential paid roles at polling centres across the District.
Polling stations are located in towns and parishes across the South Hams and need to be staffed by a team of Polling Clerks and Presiding Officers. To sign up as a Poll Clerk you don’t need any previous experience as full training is provided. The role of Presiding Officer requires previous experience of polling duties and training will also be provided. The cost of training is fully covered and participants in the training are paid to attend. There are also Counting Assistant roles on 6 May in the evening and on 7 and 10 May in the daytime, where no experience is necessary.
At the moment, the plan is for these vital elections to go ahead whilst following strict COVID-safe guidelines. Anyone working in the polling stations or at the counting stations can be reassured that their safety, and the safety of the public, will be a priority.
If you’re interested in joining the team, please head to www.southhams.gov.uk/
Avian influenza (bird flu): Latest situation
New housing measures will come into force in England, Scotland and Wales on 14 December.
The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.
Government Chief Veterinary Officers are encouraging bird keepers to use the next 11 days to prepare for new housing measures, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet and where necessary put up additional housing.
Whether you keep just a few birds as pets or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.
Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:
- housing or netting all poultry and captive birds
- cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
- reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control
- thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
- keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures
- minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds
Register your birds
We encourage all keepers to register their birds with us so we can contact you quickly if there is a disease outbreak in your area and you need to take action.
If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register your flock within one month of their arrival at your premises. If you have less than 50 birds, including pet birds, you are still strongly encouraged to register.
Find out how to register your birds.
Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7), and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301. Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice.
Public Health England advise the risk to public health from the H5N8 and H5N2 strains of bird flu is very low.
The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils are asking local people to share their thoughts on the most important issues for local housing.
These are challenging times for the South Hams and West Devon. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the importance of our homes and where we live. That is why the Councils want to hear local views on their proposed Housing Strategy 2021-2026. A seven-week consultation on the strategy launches today, 14 December 2020. Titled, Better Homes, Better Lives, it sets out a series of priorities around housing, which will help support the health and wellbeing of residents whilst recognising the unique qualities of the local area.
Many important local issues are highlighted in the plan. These include:
- The need for quality, affordable housing
- Access to the Disabled Facilities Grant to fund essential adaptations in homes and to promote independent living
- The role housing planning can play in meeting climate change targets
This is your opportunity to help shape housing priorities for the future of our communities. Public feedback is vital to the success of the plan and will help the Councils to identify if any significant changes need to be made before it is formally adopted.
That is where the Councils need your help. To make sure everyone has a chance to join the conversation, there are several ways to have your say. Firstly, you can complete the online survey at www.westdevon.gov.uk/wd-
Cllr Hilary Bastone, South Hams District Council Executive Member for Homes said: “To make sure our plans truly meet local need, we now want our residents to join in the conversation. To make this easier for more people, we’ve got a choice of ways to have your say. We’ve got a short online survey that should only take a few minutes to complete. We’re also planning a series of mini-surveys on Facebook and Twitter. These make it simple to share your views and we hope they will encourage even more people to get involved. ”Cllr Debo Sellis, West Devon Borough Council Hub Lead for Homes added: “This strategy comes at a time of great uncertainty following a year of restrictions and lockdowns as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. A time when “home” took on a stronger meaning.
“As we move forward, it is important that we revisit our priorities and make commitments to change. That’s why we have called our strategy Better Homes, Better Lives. I urge everyone to spare just a few moments to have their voice heard. By telling us what is most important to you, we can deliver a plan that really will make a difference to our communities.”
The Housing Strategy focuses on six important themes:
Housing for Place
- Ensuring sustainable housing growth
- Promote balanced and sustainable communities
- Ensuring that homes support the health and wellbeing of the area
Housing for People
- Homes that support the health and wellbeing of our residents
- Make the best use and improve quality of existing housing
- Ensuring that people can access the support and advice they require
Both Councils have declared a climate emergency and greener initiatives that deliver on carbon reduction, green energy and improving homes in a sustainable way are key aspects of this strategy.
There are a number of ways to join the conversation and have your say about the proposed Housing Strategy.
To make it even easier for more people to get involved, the Councils will also be asking for feedback via social media. Please follow the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and look out for a series of posts inviting you to have your say.
- Twitter @SouthHamsDC or @WestDevon_BC
- Facebook @southhamsdistrictcouncil @westdevonboroughcouncil
- Instagram @south.hams or @westdevon.boroughcouncil
The consultation runs until 10am on 1 February 2021.
A report highlighting South Hams District Council’s strong commitment to tackling key climate change and biodiversity issues is to be taken to committee this week.
Developed by the Council’s Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group, the Draft Strategy and updated Action Plan, will be presented to Full Council on Thursday 17 December to request formal adoption.
Since the Council declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency in July 2019, officers have continued to work on tasks and projects that will help the District to become net zero by 2050.
These include reducing the Council’s own carbon emissions, continuing to work with partners, including the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group and our Joint Local Plan partners, Plymouth City Council and West Devon Borough Council, and to increase biodiversity by 10% in its green and wooded public habitats by 2025.
From the original funding allocation of £400,000, £20,000 has been committed to provide officer support for the expenditure of in excess of £500,000 to improve energy efficiency of residents’ homes using the Green Homes Grant Scheme. The Council is now committing to split the remaining £380,000, with £180,000 to address the Council’s own carbon footprint and the remaining £200k delivered over two phases, to support community initiatives through a range of match-funded grant awards.
Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: “I am really pleased to report the progress of our Climate Change and Biodiversity initiatives. We remain committed to using the remaining £380,000 to the best effect. We are determined to reduce our own carbon footprint and also to support our communities to reduce theirs. We will do this through a range of actions including, funding a series of grants. It is important to back up our commitment in a way that maximises the benefits by levering in match-funding and capacity wherever we can.
“We continue to work closely with our Devon-wide partners and we are actively working with community representatives to get their views and expertise on an ongoing basis. We have started to change some of our fleet vehicles to electric and will continue to do so, as and when our existing contracts allow. Public electric charging points are in place in some areas of the South Hams with more already in the pipeline. We have supported eligible residents through the Green Homes Grant Scheme to help improve their homes’ energy efficiency.
“We are also publishing a monthly Climate Change and Biodiversity e-bulletin to share updates and good practise with our residents, which you can sign up for on our website. All in all, I am confident that we are making strong and steady progress to our Climate Change and Biodiversity agenda.”
The Council understand that Climate Change and Biodiversity loss are of critical importance and interest to a wide range of individuals and groups across the District. With this in mind, they arranged a Climate Change and Biodiversity Community Forum session, which took place on Wednesday 9 December and was declared a success by those in attendance. Together the Forum will continue this valuable relationship, where the Council and community representatives share expertise and knowledge to work together and support common goals.
Any new opportunities and initiatives will be updated in the continually evolving Action Plan as they arise.
A member of South Hams District Council’s Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group, and Leader of the Council’s Green Party, Cllr Jacqi Hodgson, added: “This week’s formal publication of our Climate and Biodiversity Emergency strategy is very timely as it coincides with Devon County’s Interim Carbon Plan that was issued last week and the emergence of a number of climate action plans from parishes and town across the South Hams.
“Collaboration and ‘joined up thinking’ across the Councils with strategic incentives and ideas for the public to participate in meaningful actions to address the climate emergency will help us all to reduce our carbon footprint.”
To find out more about the Council’s commitment to the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency, visit:
Businesses in the South Hams and West Devon which were ordered to close when the national restrictions began on 5 November 2020, can now apply for a grant of either £1,334, £2,000, or £3,000 depending on the rateable value of the business.
From today (Monday 16 November) businesses can apply for the grant through the councils' websites – www.southhams.gov.uk
Applications will be processed on a first come first served basis and the first payments will reach bank accounts from Wednesday 25 November.
At the beginning of the current national restrictions, central government announced that there would be further support for businesses who could not trade. This grant is called the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and is aimed at those businesses which were told that they must close because of the threat posed by COVID-19.
Businesses from the hospitality industry, including pubs, restaurants, and holiday accommodation are included in the list of those eligible for the grant. Those which provide personal care, such as hairdressers, beauty salons, and many businesses in the leisure industry such as gyms, swimming pools, and soft play centres are also on the list.
If a business (included in the list) is substantially closed but still able to offer some click and collect or take-away service, it is still eligible for this business support grant.A full list of all the businesses that were instructed to close, and those on the exemption list can be found on the Government's business advice pages: www.gov.uk/government/
Once approved the grant will provide those eligible businesses with a rolling 28-day grant, lasting as long as the national restrictions apply.
Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council said: “In a matter of days we have made all necessary arrangements for you to be able to apply for this grant. All businesses in the South Hams are really important to us and we know how hard this pandemic has affected you. Our aim now is to get this money to you as quickly as possible.”
The amount of Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) awarded to you will depend on the rateable value of your business premises:
To be eligible for this current Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG), there are four conditions with which your business must comply:
- Occupy and be liable for business rates on a property that appears in the Local Rating List on 4 November 2020
- Have been trading on 4 November 2020
- Have been open as usual on 4 November 2020 and providing in-person services to customers from their premises; and
- Mandated to close from 5 November 2020 to visiting members of the public for a consecutive period of no less than 28 days as a result of regulations made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1994.
You must also have the following information to hand before you start your application process. We do not want your payment to be delayed so please make sure you send in the correct information:
- Recent bank account statement showing account number and address
- Your company number
In addition, the councils are encouraging all businesses to keep following them on social media and to sign up for their business email alerts.
Cllr Judy Pearce added: “These grants are being administered differently from the grants we administered earlier in the year. We will not be writing to you telling you to apply, simply go to our website and begin your application.
“We would also strongly recommend that you sign up for our Business E-Bulletin. That will ensure that you get information about further grants and business support when we publish it.”
Apply for the grant on the councils’ Business Support Pages
Find out which businesses should be closed under current national restrictions
Charity Number 1180354
An invitation to our
Annual General Meeting
Friday 4th December 2020
from 2.00pm to 3.30pm
this year by Zoom
Guest speaker - Ian Sherriff, B.E.M, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at Plymouth University.
If you would like to join us please email firstname.lastname@example.org and the Zoom link will be forwarded to you.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared across the whole of England effective from 5pm on 11 November 2020.
All poultry keepers in England (whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions.
If you keep poultry (including gamebirds or pet birds) or other captive birds, you must act now to reduce the risk of disease in your flock by following the relevant biosecurity measures required within the AIPZ. Your stock needs to be feed and watered under cover to prevent contamination from wild birds.
Good biosecurity improves the overall health and productivity of your flock by helping keep out poultry diseases such as avian influenza and limiting the spread of disease in an outbreak.
All bird gatherings within the AIPZ are prohibited therefore the general licence that had permitted bird gatherings has been revoked.
For more guidance please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77)
Public Health England advises that the risk to the public’s health is very low. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers
Avian influenza is unconnected with coronavirus (COVID-19).
You can choose to register fewer than 50 birds, or birds you keep as pets. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) encourages you to register even if you do not have to by law.
- APHA will be able to contact you if there’s a disease outbreak (such as bird flu) in your area
- you’ll help prevent the spread of disease and protect the national poultry flock.
Local authorities across Devon are joining forces to protect residents and themselves to combat fraud this International Fraud Awareness Week (IFAW), which runs until 21 November.
With the Counter Fraud Services Team at Devon Audit Partnership, local authorities are aiming to raise awareness of what fraud is, as the first step in preventing it from taking place.
Raising awareness of fraud, often referred to as a scam, is more important now than ever. Fraudsters are trying to take advantage of people during the COVID-19 (C19) crisis. They are adopting a C19 camouflage to play on residents’ fears and lack of knowledge, taking advantage of them at this unusual time.
Based on fear and risk during the COVID-19 crisis, the most common examples, reported to action organisations include:
- victim alleged to have breached stay home regulations - scam with text messages from .GOV.UK issuing fines
- free school meals scam - fraudulent messages (text or email) to parents entitled to free school meals
- fraudsters pretending to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO)
- fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates
- investment fraud including pension liberation fraud – fraudsters could take the opportunity to create bogus investments in commodities in high demand
West Devon Borough Council’s, Lead Member for Customer First, Cllr Jeff Moody, said: “We are constantly hearing how fraudsters are targeting our vulnerable residents with scams. It is appalling how these people can prey on the unsuspecting, especially in a pandemic where lots of people are experiencing impacts on their finances already.
“Only this week, we have heard about how one of our Horrabridge residents managed to evade being caught out with a Council Tax scam, where the scammers claimed to be from the Council and offering a refund. Always contact the Council for clarification if you are suspicious. Take the time to find out how to protect yourself and your family against fraudsters and what to do if you have unfortunately been caught out.”
Fraudsters understand how many of us think and react as human beings aiming to create a situation which causes an overwhelming and emotional response to a stimulus such as an email or text that increases our stress levels. This triggers our fight or flight responses with normal logical thought is over ridden by the need to take immediate action.
“There is no shame in having been conned by these terrible people. They make their scams very difficult to spot and we have to do everything we can to stop them so we can protect our loved ones.”
Detailed counter fraud advice is available online, including from these trusted sites:
- Citizens Advice
- Trading Standards
- National Cyber Security Centre
- Fraud Advisory Panel
Only use trusted sites and or those displaying that they are secure - site address starts with “https” or displays a padlock image next to the site address.
A case of fraud, or suspected fraud, can be reported in confidence in the following ways: