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Somerset COVID 19 latest data

This week to 20 October, there were 4,687 new confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Somerset. Well if we learned anything this week, it is that numbers are definitely not declining. The case load for the week is the highest we have experienced this year.

The table below tracks the overall weekly number of infections in Somerset in recent weeks.

  • 4,687 to 20 October
  • 2.195 to 13 October
  • 2,260 to 6 October
  • 1,876 to 29 September
  • 1,453 to 22 September
  • 1,432 to 15 September
  • 2,148 to 8 September
  • 2,132 to 1 September
  • 2,763 to 25 August
  • 1,911 to 18 August
  • 1,481 to 11 August
  • 1,407 to 4 August
  • 1,285 to 28 July
  • 2,056 to 21 July
  • 989 to 14 July
  • 470 to 7 July

This week there is not point trying to tell you the COVID hotspots. The vast majority of Somerset has a caseload in excess of 500 per 100,000 population.

The highest number of new cases was in Taunton (678) but case numbers were up everywhere. Even Frome where there has been a high incidence of COVID cases in recent weeks has seen case numbers grow from 225 last week to 286 this week. Elsewhere Bridgwater reported 412 new cases and Yeovil 362, case numbers doubling over last week in each case.

Before we go any further however, our usual health warning about the figures.  Unlike NHS data these numbers include care homes and incidences of COVID 19 “at home”. The data is prepared to 20 October for cases (although different dates are used for some of the other figures – for instance deaths are reported to 8 October). The reason for this delay is to keep the numbers accurate – or should we say as accurate as possible. The daily totals published by the NHS are subject to constant revision, as not unreasonably, the data is constantly being updated to improve accuracy. It is also worth noting that the SCC area does not include North Somerset (so Weston hospital) or BANES (So the RUH in Bath) both of which are separate administrative areas.

As predicted the number of deaths recorded from COVID 19 remain steady and relatively low. We continue to monitor these figures closely. There were six deaths this week (compared to 4 last week), 4 were in hospital and 2 in a care home.

As we suggested last week, the fall in hospitalisation was largely due to the largest outbreak being in Frome. This is because Frome hospitalisations tend to be taken to RUH in Bath and Somerset reports figures for Musgrove and Yeovil only. This week with larger numbers being in Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil, hospitalisations at Musgrove and Yeovil have risen. There are still only 50 people in hospital in those two hospitals with COVID, comparable to the last peak a month ago.

The R number is still reported at 0.9-1.1 which looks much closer to reality than the number reported last week. However as case numbers are rising rapidly now, any number below 1 makes little sense.

The most worrying figures this week remain for vaccinations of the under 18 cohort. This is still proceeding at a snail’s pace. WE have recently reported population data for Somerset that suggests the under 18s are split almost 50:50 between the up to 11s (who would not be vaccinated) and the 12-18s who would. This means we would want to see around 50% of the under 18s vaccinated to get maximum protection for that cohort. Elsewhere in the country, on average just under 60% of 12-18 years olds have had at least one jab. So we should be expecting around 30% of the total under 18 population in Somerset to be vaccinated. At present we have vaccinated just 10%. This appears to be a real concern. It is not clear why the vaccination program isn’t working, but Somerset appears to be a long way behind the rest of the country.

This week 1,150 young people had a vaccination taking the total to 12,000. Which leaves us with something in the order of 45,000 to go.

As ever here is the full dataset so you can form your own conclusions:

Fatal accident Evercreech

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage following a fatal road traffic collision. Last night (Monday, 18 October) a Renault Clio collided with a lorry at around 8.30pm on the A371 at Evercreech. The accident happened near to Pecking Mill Road.

The driver of the Clio, a man, sadly died at the scene. Police have informed his next of kin. 

Did you witness the incident? Were you on the A371 at the time? Did you see either vehicle before the collision? If you have information or dashcam footage, please call 101 and provide the call handler with the reference 5221244403.

Mendip Greens support Clark’s strike action

The eight Green Councillors on Mendip District Council have written to the strike leaders and union officials at Clark’s. The councillors have also written to Mr Li Ning of Viva China Holdings, who own a controlling interest in Lion Rock. This is the finance company that took over the Street based company last year. Local MP James Heappey, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and Sir Keir Starmer, have all been asked to intervene.

The strike which is now entering its third week is over so called “fire and rehire” contracts. This is a scheme where employees are invited to rescind their existing contracts and sign new, less generous terms.

The District Councillors say: “We wanted to send you our personal support, solidarity, and admiration for your action against the immoral demands of Lion Rock Capital. It is clear that your loyalty to Clark’s over many years has been abused. We fear the wrongs you are fighting today will be repeated all over the nation unless courageous people like you stand your ground, so we thank you for your resolution and leadership.

Green County Council Leader, Martin Dimery also supports the strike.

The Mayor of Glastonbury, Cllr Jon Cousins is a member of the District Council group. He told us: “As First Citizen of Glastonbury, I am writing to let you know that I fully support your indefinite strike action resisting ‘Fire-andRehire’ – undertaken in response to the changes that Clarks’ new owners Lion Rock Capital wish to impose’. I know many, many Glastonbury residents stand in solidarity with you; wish you all success in your action – and fully agree that ‘Fire-and-Rehire’ is no way for Clarks to thank employees or their customers. The workers at Clarks deserve better!’”

Mendip Trades Union Council state that the Clark’s warehouse workers, face a cut in pay of 15%. The Community Union claim they face the following threats:

  • 1. An average reduction in pay of £1.66 per hour: from the current £11.16p to £9.50p;
  • 2. An increase in working hours of 2.5 per week, due to paid 30-minute meal breaks being abolished;
  • 3. No pay rise for at least four years
  • 4. Drastic cuts in sick pay: from 13 weeks full pay to 6 weeks full pay and 6 weeks half pay; abolition of sick pay for the first day of absence; no sick pay entitlement from day one of employment, only after 6 months;
  • 5. The abolition of a daily ten-minute coffee break, brought in at the company’s request to ease warehouse operations;
  • 6. A drastic reduction in redundancy entitlements: from enhanced double statutory, to statutory, ie, one week’s wages per year of service), raising fears that the company will get rid of workers, get rid of workers, even close the Street Distribution Centre, just as they are closing their distribution centre in Kendal.  
  • 7. Cuts to overtime rates to regular time rates

Castle Cary crunch time

A planning application for Castle Cary is returning to haunt local objectors. No matter how many times it is turned down, it will not go away. The Leveller has reported on this application more than once, as it has been rejected by:

  • Ansford Parish Council
  • Castle Cary Town Council
  • South Somerset District Council

The application, 19/01840/OUT, was subject to 68 letters from members of the public, 67 of whom objected. Objectors noted the application ignored the wishes of people set out in the Neighbourhood Plan and Local Plan. These plans matter as they are approved democratically, representing the will of local people. Unfortunately, as developers well know, when a council cannot show a 5 year land supply, they are set aside.

Having been turned down, the applicants, Wyke Farm Ltd And Andrew Hopkins Concrete Ltd have appealed. Ordinarily that means the decision would go to a Planning Inspector. The Inspector would review the case pepares and reach a decision. This time noting the degree of local angst over the plans, the Planning Inspectorate have taken a different route. They have decided to hold a Public Inquiry. That will meet between 9 and 12 November at Caryford Hall in Castle Cary.

Care4Cary, Castle Cary Town Council and Ansford Parish Council are getting together a petition of objectors to put before the Public Inquiry. For more information contact info@care4cary.co.uk

Ordinarily an application for 200 homes in South Somerset would be a difficult proposition. The extra sewage created would add to the problem of phosphates on the Moors and Levels RAMSAR site. That at least has been Natural England’s position on similar applications. Natural England currently require equivalent land to be taken out of dairy use to compensate for any new builds. However Wyke Farms probably own enough dairy acreage to accommodate such a requirement should they wish to set the land aside.

Local residents are unhappy that one of the last green spaces between the town and the station is to be developed. Not least because the town has experienced significant growth in recent years. With 600 houses already in development or completed, the nature of the town is bound to change.

It has been noted that 70 of the 200 houses will be affordable. As the Leveller has reported many times this means “Affordable”. It is a legal definition that requires rent to be at least 20% below market rent. In practise this usually means exactly 20% below market rates. And as residents of Somerset are painfully aware, that is not the same as affordable (without a capital “A”).

There is also the issue of climate change. With COP26 looming it is disappointing that this issue has been omitted. There is no commitment to zero carbon housing by the developers. So every one of these new houses will have to be retrofitted at some point in the future. A cost to be carried by future generations. Current Building Regulations require “Nearly Carbon Neutral Housing” to be built. But as we have also pointed out before, these are words only. The actual requirements are to reduce emissions to 35% below 2020 requirements. Which is a long, long way from being genuinely nearly carbon neutral housing.  

We will certainly be looking at the outcome of this application with interest.

Frome man charged

Kevin Kelly, 52, is due to appear before South Somerset Magistrates Court in Yeovil today (15 October). Kelly has been charged with two dwelling burglary-related offences.

He was remanded in custody after being charged with one count of burglary and one of attempted burglary. The alleged offences relate to reported incidents in Frome in the early hours of Thursday 14 October.

Police act on Cheddar Gorge

Avon & Somerset Police carried out a day of enforcement action in Cheddar Gorge on Sunday 10 October. Members of the Sedgemoor neighbourhood police team and Special Constabulary attended. Their work was to address continuing community concerns about acts of antisocial behaviour.

The operation, was put in place to engage with members of the public and offer them reassurance. Police were also able to identify a number of offences and take appropriate action.

Police used their dispersal powers after a large group of people and vehicles gathered within the Gorge. Some in the crowd were reportedly causing antisocial behaviour.

A 21-year-old male was stopped for driving while under the influence of a class A and B substance. Another male was found in possession of a controlled class B drug and will attend a voluntary police interview.

Fixed penalty notices were also issued to one motorist for not having a legal number plate. A second mototirst was given a fixed penalty for obstruction of a no entry route.

Meanwhile officers of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency also attended. They dealt with a number of offences including:

  • Deficient body panels
  • Faulty lights
  • Number plate faults
  • Exhaust issues

PCC Mark Shelford noted: “I know how frustrated local people feel about the antisocial driving that occurs in Cheddar Gorge so I am pleased to see that this collaboration between Avon and Somerset Police and the DVSA was a success…. As for the minority who think it is acceptable to drive in an unsafe manner, it’s not; you are not only putting yourself in danger but other people too. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

COVID Testing failure effects South WEst

This morning the Government announced that NHS Test and Trace have suspended testing by Immensa Health Clinic. This follows an investigation into results from the Laboratory. There were reports of people receiving negative PCR test results after testing positive on a Lateral Flow Device (LFD).

NHS Test and Trace estimate that around 43,000 people may have been given incorrect negative PCR test results. These were for tests between 8 September and 12 October. Most people with incorrect results are from the South West of England. Government insists this is an isolated incident attributed to one laboratory. All samples sent to the Immensa laboratory in Wolverhampton are now being redirected to other laboratories. 

NHS Test and Trace is contacting the people that could still be infectious to advise them to take another test. Close contacts who are symptomatic will also be advised to take a test in line with normal practice.  Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should book a PCR test. Those with a positive LFD test should get a follow up PCR test to confirm they have COVID-19.

Update from Somerset County Council

Somerset’s Public Health leaders are advising people to retest if they are still displaying Covid-19 symptoms. Even after receiving a negative PCR test result. The advice follows the suspension of a laboratory processing Covid-19 PCR tests.

SOMERSET COVID 19 LATEST DATA

This week to 13 October, there were 2,195 new confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Somerset. As we have repeatedly warned, there is no evidence for a decline in cases in Somerset. Nothing that has happened in the last few weeks suggests anything other than numbers are broadly steady.

The table below tracks the overall weekly number of infections in Somerset in recent weeks.

  • 2.195 to 13 October
    2,260 to 6 October
  • 1,876 to 29 September
  • 1,453 to 22 September
  • 1,432 to 15 September
  • 2,148 to 8 September
  • 2,132 to 1 September
  • 2,763 to 25 August
  • 1,911 to 18 August
  • 1,481 to 11 August
  • 1,407 to 4 August
  • 1,285 to 28 July
  • 2,056 to 21 July
  • 989 to 14 July
  • 470 to 7 July

This week there are several COVID hotspots around the county. Although case numbers are not that high in all cases, 12 areas of Somerset show over 500 cases per 100,000 people. For is one of those. Similar to last week it reported 51 new cases.

Once again Frome (and the surrounding area is the centre of the current outbreak. With 225 cases this week Frome has the second highest number of cases and highest cases per 100,000 people in Somerset. The highest case numbers were reported for Taunton with 289 new cases. Elsewhere Bridgwater reported 168 new cases and Yeovil 165.

Before we go any further however, our usual health warning about the figures.  Unlike NHS data these numbers include care homes and incidences of COVID 19 “at home”. The data is prepared to 13 October for cases (although different dates are used for some of the other figures – for instance deaths are reported to 1 October). The reason for this delay is to keep the numbers accurate – or should we say as accurate as possible. The daily totals published by the NHS are subject to constant revision, as not unreasonably, the data is constantly being updated to improve accuracy. It is also worth noting that the SCC area does not include North Somerset (so Weston hospital) or BANES (So the RUH in Bath) both of which are separate administrative areas.

In the last fortnight there has been an uptick in the number of deaths recorded from COVID 19. This is a more worrying trend as numbers of deaths had been relatively small since the end of the last lockdown in July. We continue to monitor these figures closely. There were four deaths this week, 3 were in hospital and 1 in a care home.

Although the number of hospitalisations remains low, we are reminded that this is not necessarily the full picture. The numbers in hospital split between Taunton and Yeovil hospitals remain under 30. However as the current centre of the outbreak locally is in Frome, that is not surprising. The majority of hospitalisations that were necessary for Frome residents would be in the RUH in Bath.

The R number is still reported at 0.8-1.1 which looks much loser to reality than the number reported last week. However as case numbers are not falling, any number below 1 makes little sense.

The most worrying figures this week remain for vaccinations of the under 18 cohort. This is still proceeding at a snail’s pace. This week just 334 under 18’s were vaccinated. That was better than the 268 last week but really this does not look to us to be good enough.

As ever here is the full dataset so you can form your own conclusions:

Serious accident in Frome

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward following a serious accident in Frome. The crash happened on Sunday (10 October) in Welshmill Lane on the north side of Frome.  Police say a green Honda Accord crashed into a stone wall. It happened at around 5pm.

There were four people in the vehicle – one man, one woman and two teenage girls. All of them suffered injuries in the crash. The woman has potentially life-changing injuries.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested an suspicion of drink-driving and driving while unfit through drugs.

Did you see this incident? Did you see the car driving shortly before the crash? If you have any information please call the Police on 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5221236936. 

A358 consultation launched today

Highways England today launched the consultation on the route of the A358. This is the stretch between between the roundabout on the A303 outside Ilminster and J25 on the M5. As is so often the case with these things, it is not much of a consultation. You are not asked to choose between options. This is a final proposal, and you are invited to make any comments.

Highways England tell us “In delivering the scheme, we’re aiming to:

  • improve the capacity of the road to reduce delays and queues that occur during peak hours and at key times of the year i.e. the height of summer.
  • support economic growth, facilitating growth in jobs and housing by providing a free-flowing and reliable connection between the south east and the south west
  • make the road safer, by providing additional capacity and reducing driver stress. We’ll also improve routes for pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders in the area
  • protect the environment and look for opportunities to improve it, minimising any unnecessary impact of the scheme on the surrounding natural and historic environment and landscape
  • work with local communities to reduce the impact of the road, and look for ways to improve local people’s quality of life
  • make journey times more reliable and resilient; by providing more capacity it will become easier to manage traffic when incidents occur

The consultation runs from today to Monday, 22 November 2021 with feedback helping National Highways develop its planning application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to be submitted next year.

A DCO is required for all nationally significant infrastructure projects and will allow for the Planning Inspectorate to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who will decide on whether development consent should be granted for the proposed scheme.

One of the best ways to find out more about our proposals and have your say is to visit our online exhibition. You can access this via www.highwaysengland.co.uk/a358-taunton-to-southfields – there are dedicated times when you can chat with members of the project team who’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

There will also be three public consultation events in line with government guidance:

  • Taunton Racecourse – Tuesday 19 October, 2pm – 8pm
  • Monks Yard – Saturday 23 October, 11am – 6pm
  • Holiday Inn Taunton – Wednesday 3 November, 11am – 6pm

If you do not have access to the internet, you can request a free copy of our consultation booklet, feedback questionnaire and non-technical summary of the Preliminary Environmental Information Report by calling 0300 123 5000 or emailing A358TauntontoSouthfields@highwaysengland.co.uk

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