The Somer Valley Forum comprises the parished areas of Farmborough, Farrington Gurney, High Littleton, Midsomer Norton, Paulton, Peasedown St John, Radstock, Timsbury Westfield. The corresponding members are Camerton and Shoscombe (B&NES); Chilcompton; Coleford; Hemington; Kilmersdon; Stratton-on-the-Fosse (Mendip).
The Somer Valley Forum is one of five Connecting Communities Forums within Bath and North East Somerset (the others are Bath Area Forum; Bathavon Area Forum; Chew Valley Area Forum and Keynsham Area Forum). All the Forum meetings are open to the public and community group representatives as well Ward and Parish Councillors.
Bath and North East Somerset is a diverse area with differing needs and priorities. The Council and its partners recognise this and value the local information and feedback the Forums provide as these help to shape local services. The items discussed at Forum meetings include those the Council and its partners need to share or would like feedback on; items the Forum members themselves wish to discuss and opportunities for local organisations to share information and best practice.
The 'Connecting Communities' approach has been built around five key principles:
- work with you
- share ideas
As there is now much less public funding available, local people and neighbourhoods are being asked to help run services too. The Forums help to improve local engagement, encourage people to talk to each other and to share their skills and ideas.
The meeting dates for 2023 are as follows - all meetings start at 6pm.
- Tuesday 7 March 2023 - Zoom
- Wednesday 21 June 2023
- Wednesday 20 September 2023
Recent Past Meetings (Click on the date to view the meeting on the Council's YouTube Channel)
The Forum received updates on the £1.5m funding awarded to the Active Travel Social Prescribing Pilot and also the £1.4m of funding awarded by WECA's Green Recovery Fund for the Somer Valley Rediscovered project. Both projects had been discussed at previous Forum meetings and the announcement of investment was welcomed.
The theme of the first part of the meeting was 'Preparing for the Future' with Simon de Beer, Head of Planning and Nancy Towers from Public Health giving a presentation on the Local Plan and Health & Wellbeing Strategy in preparation for further engagement on these important items. There was also a presentation on the potential to develop Liveable Neighbourhoods.
The theme of the second part of the meeting was 'Building Community Resilience'. There was an update on the cost of living crisis with details of where people can go now for support and ongoing work to provide Warm Places as the weather gets colder. The Forum was asked to let the Community Engagement Team know if they have any planned initiatives such as Warm Places, grants, food clubs etc. Please contact us at Connecting_Communities@bathnes.gov.uk. Daniel Noad from the Council's Emergency Planning Team also gave a presentation on community resilience and the importance of having local and personal emergency plans.
It was also the Forum's AGM and we are pleased to announce that Lynda Robertson was voted in as Chair of the Forum with Cllr Ron Hopkins as Vice Chair. We look forward to working with them again over the coming year. All the presentations from the meeting can be found on this webpage.
At the June meeting, the Forum received an update on guests from Ukraine in Bath and North East Somerset and support for them in the Somer Valley Area. The Forum welcomed Simon de Beer, Head of Planning at Bath & North East Somerset Council. Simon is also the Council's Place Team lead for the Somer Valley Area and explained how this new initiative should help the Council better understand and respond to place based needs through engagement with communities. Helen Harris, Manager of the Three Valleys Health Primary Care Network also presented on their Enhanced Access Plan. There was also a presentation on the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone as part of its public engagement which began on 19 May 2022 with a Webinar that you can view on our YouTube Channel. There is also a document on this page with the questions raised at this and the responses. The engagement will run for 6 weeks and end on 30 June 2022. You can find out more and have your say here. All the presentations and updates from the Forum meeting can be found on this webpage.
The main theme of the meeting was Somer Valley Rediscovered and Green Social Prescribing. The Forum heard from Miriam Woolnough - Somer Valley Heritage & Environment Development Manager, B&NES and Jane Wright – Senior Adviser, Natural England. Also on an Active Travel Social Prescribing Pilot for the Somer Valley from Jenny Willson and Ferhan Khan from B&NES Public Health. Justin Wride – Head of Wellbeing Services, HCRG (formerly Virgin Care), spoke to the Forum about the Wellbeing College and Outdoor Networks. Heritage and Funding Consultant, Laura Wigg-Bailey, also presented on work to restore the Somersetshire Coal Canal. The presentations can be found on this webpage.
The Forum received a presentation from the Council and the BANES, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group on the pressures they are facing this winter and how residents can assist. This can be found on this webpage.
This was a joint meeting with the Chew Valley Area Forum on a theme of Health & Wellbeing. The Three Valleys Health Primary Care Network (PCN) includes both the Chew Valley and Somer Valley areas. The Forums heard from:
- Three Valleys Health Primary Care Network
- Virgin Care
- Age UK BANES
- The West of England Rural Network Village Agents
This was a very informative meeting and we would urge you to catch up with it on our YouTube Channel if you missed it, or want to hear the presentations again. Just click the date above. The presentations can also be found on this webpage.
Chair: Lynda Robertson
Vice Chair: Cllr Ron Hopkins
Lead Officers: Sara Dixon and Alison Wells