Somerset councils pause projects

Several major projects are being paused or delayed as councils and health services in Somerset take stock. There are clearly logistical problems in working on through the Coronavirus emergency.

There are several reasons for the disruption, some as simple as being unable to meet social distancing rules whilst carrying on working. But in addition reduced staffing, or redeployment of staff to support the vulnerable will have an impact. Inevitably with so many private businesses also disrupted, the supply chain for sourcing materials to complete projects is proving difficult. And finally the impacts of staff self-isolating added to travel restrictions is impacting the number of staff available to work on these major projects.

Taken together they mean some key pieces of work are having to be rescheduled and start dates pushed back.

Some of the key services or projects affected include:

  • M5 Junction 25 improvements – works continue with a reduced workforce on site.
  • Toneway Creech Castle junction improvements – planned to start on 14 April, this will now be paused until at least July in light of uncertainty over materials, sub-contractors and key utilities work. It will also allow contractor Alun Griffiths to focus its resources on the M5 Junction 25 project.
  • Recycle More – Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) is pausing the introduction of the new service that will increase the range of materials that can be recycled from the kerbside.
  • Climate Emergency Strategy – completion of the cross-council draft strategy, and consultation on it, will be delayed until the current crisis is over.
  • Climate Change Fund – applications to Somerset County Council’s £1m Climate Change Fund were due to be invited from 1 May. This will be reviewed and launched as soon as possible.
  • Highways – all planned highway maintenance works, including Small Improvement Schemes, are now suspended.
  • The Fit For My Future programme – Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Somerset County Council’s strategy development for future health and care services will be paused for 4-6 months from mid-April.
  • SCC major building projects (including Polden Bower Special School, Bishop Fox’s extension, new Somerton school, Willowdown expansion, iAero, the SEIC – Somerset Energy and Innovation Centre and County Hall A Block) – works continue, but may be subject to delay.

The building projects may continue for now, but keeping going whilst adhering to Government guidelines can be tricky on a building site. Whilst the list above represents the status today, this will have to be kept under constant review. And of course if Government advice changes, then all of the above is likely to be subject to further change too.

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