A year of change set out in the Council Plan update

South Somerset District Council has set out an ambitious year in the latest Council Plan update, which identifies five areas of focus that includes:

  • Protecting core services
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Housing
  • Healthy, Self-reliant Communities

The Council Plan 2016-21 shows the Council's ambition to make major changes in the way it operates and delivers services, whilst continuing to deliver services and priority projects that meet the needs of residents, visitors and businesses.

To assist with the delivery of the five areas of focus, Priority Projects for 2019-20 have been set. These Priority Projects are:

  1. To completely and fully realise the benefits of Transformation and implement the Commercial Strategy
  2. To finalise plans and progress implementation of the Chard regeneration project
  3. To continue the refresh of Yeovil Town Centre
  4. To implement the town centre action plan for Wincanton
  5. To develop proposals to accelerate the delivery of key housing sites and associated infrastructure
  6. To assess options for improving community transport links.

The five areas of focus and Council Plan themes help to set a clear direction to enable the district council to achieve its vision for South Somerset; a place where businesses flourish, communities are safe, vibrant and healthy; where residents enjoy good housing and cultural, leisure and sporting activities.

By Protecting Core Services, the district council will ensure that it is a modern, efficient and effective council that deliveries for its communities. We will:

  • Provide high quality cost effective services and transform customer services through technology.
  • Take a more commercial approach to become self-sufficient financially.
  • Develop a more cohesive and ambitious, economically efficient organisation.
  • Become a partner of choice for the community and commercial sectors.
  • Be a desirable and respected employer that invests in its staff and attracts the next generation.
  • Become a leader in its field, delivering high quality and effective services to its customers and communities.

By setting the Economy as an area of focus, we will promote a strong and growing economy with thriving urban, rural and land-based businesses. To help us achieve this, we will:

  • Develop a reputation as a great place to do business.
  • Ensure a greater proportion of our contracts are placed with local small to medium-sized enterprises.
  • Support the delivery of improved infrastructure including the A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling, public transport improvements and sustainable transport.
  • Ensure delivery of adequate employment land and premises to meet different business needs.
  • Support our town centres in adapting to the changes in our high streets and consumer trends.
  • Offer advice and support initiatives that ensure worker skills meet employers' needs.
  • Promote and support commercial investment including inward investment, innovation and productivity.

We will keep South Somerset clean, green, attractive and sustainable by setting the Environment as an area of focus. We will do this by:

  • Working with partners to promote recycling and minimise waste.
  • Maintaining and improve the provision and quality of open spaces and parks.
  • Being a leading council in developing and adopting a Green Agenda to promote sustainable environment, economy and communities.
  • Keeping streets and neighbourhoods clean and attractive
  • Supporting long-term flood resilience.
  • Promoting a high-quality built environment
  • Supporting communities to develop and implement Neighbourhood Plans.

Housing is an area of focus for us because we want to enable housing and communities to meet the existing and future needs of residents and employers. We will work to:

  • Enable sufficient housing in appropriate places to meet community needs.
  • Maximise the number of affordable homes including providing more affordable homes to support rural economies and communities.
  • Reduce homelessness and rough sleeping.
  • Support communities to develop and implement Community Land Trusts.
  • Match lifelong independent living with appropriate property solutions.
  • Ensure development which is sustainable, where people want to live and communities can thrive.

We want Healthy, Self-reliant Communities which are cohesive, sustainable and enjoy a high quality of life. To achieve this, we will:

  • Embed social value into all processes and activities to ensure we maximise the support we give to our communities.
  • Work with partners to keep our residents safe and help them to feel safe in their local area.
  • Work with partners to reduce the impact of social isolation and create a feeling of community.
  • Work with partners to support people in improving their own physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Enable quality cultural, leisure and sport activities.
  • Support residents facing hardship.

Councillor Val Keitch, Leader of South Somerset District Council, said: "The latest Council Plan is an ambitious document which really lays the foundations for success for the coming year and helps to tackle some of the challenges that this Council faces. By setting areas of focus, it helps to set out the areas in which the Council hopes to really make a difference within South Somerset.

"Added to the areas of focus and priority projects are the key priorities for each area of South Somerset. Officers worked hard with the different area Members to identify priority work for the coming year where a real difference can be made. All of the priorities link back to the areas of focus so there is a real clear direction of work which will be noticed by residents, visitors and businesses."

More information about the specific plans that are detailed in the area key priorities for where you live will be released in the coming weeks.

What challenges does the Council face?

SSDC has sustained a 70 per cent reduction in its Government grant funding since 2010 and further reductions are likely in the future whilst demand for and costs of many services continues to rise.

To help tackle the challenges of decreasing central Government funding, the Council is undertaking a huge change designed to protect our services and put our residents, businesses and partners at the heart of how we work and deliver.

The Council's ambitious Transformation programmes aims to build a Council of the future that is able to deliver better services and outcomes for South Somerset in the context of significantly less funding. You can learn more about Transformation here.