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General

Record numbers offered flu vaccine

More Somerset residents than ever are being encouraged to get their flu vaccine as new Public Health England research suggests that the risk of death more than doubled for people who tested positive for both flu and coronavirus (COVID-19), compared to those with coronavirus alone.

They looked at cases between January and April this year and found that people infected with both flu and coronavirus were more at risk of severe illness and death. Most cases were in older people and sadly more than half of them died.

Flu is a serious condition that kills on average 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises many more. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from coronavirus, so the free vaccine is more important than ever to help protect people in Somerset from a double threat this winter and ease pressure on the NHS.

This year the free flu vaccination programme is being expanded and will be offered to 30 million people, the highest number ever.

All primary school children and, for the first time, Year 7 children will be offered the flu ‘nasal spray’ in schools to reduce community transmission. Two and three-year-olds will be offered the vaccine through their GP.

The most vulnerable, including adults aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women, will be offered the flu vaccine first through their GP or pharmacy.

The flu vaccine will also be offered to household contacts of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List and all health and social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for.

Once the most at-risk groups have had their free flu jab, the newly eligible 50 to 64 year olds will be invited to get theirs later in the season.

Play Area, Paddons Farm

In recent correspondence a resident was advised by a Planning Officer of Somerset West and Taunton Council in respect of the lack of accessible play area  on the Paddons Farm estate as follows:-

“The Council does expect Strongvox to maintain and make available the existing play space  for use by  children until such time  as the new play area becomes available. This is a requirement of the Section 106 legal agreement variation that facilitates the development.

As there are only a limited number of enforcement officers in the Council area we are , to an extent, reliant  upon the public to  contact us  with details of breaches of planning permissions that irk them. I would advise you , and/or your neighbours , to contact the Council  (with specific  dates and times , if possible) if you notice that the play space is closed and none is available for use.”

The Somerset West and Taunton Council online reporting system is available via this link

https://my.somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk/service/General_enquiry

You can enrol for an account or continue without an account, at the following screen choose Planning and Development, then complete the questions, if you have photographs, you can add them to the entry and then submit your report.

 

Picture containing a view of Paddons Farm Play area, extract from Google Street view dated 2011

Safer Somerset – County Lines initative

County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas (within the UK), using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to act as runners to move (and store) the drugs and money. They will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

‘Cuckooing’ is a method commonly associated with County Lines, where non-local offenders – often heroin and crack cocaine dealers – take over the homes of local residents to create bases from which they supply local drugs markets. From cases nationally and locally, it is understood that this method can often involve serious violence, coercion and manipulation, often targeting vulnerable people such as drug users, single mothers and people with learning disabilities.

Children often don’t see themselves as victims or realise they have been groomed to get involved in criminality. So, it’s important that we all play our part to understand County Lines and speak out if we have concerns.

The signs to spot

A young person who is involved in County Lines activity might show some of these signs

  • persistently going missing from school or home, or being found out-of-area
  • unexplained acquisition of money, clothes or mobile phones
  • excessive receipt of texts or phone calls
  • relationships with controlling, older individuals or gang association
  • parental concerns, and leaving home or care without explanation
  • suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries
  • significant decline in school performance and changes in emotional wellbeing
  • Young people seen in different cars and taxis driven by unknown adults
  • Young people seeming unfamiliar with their community or where they are

What to do if you have concerns

The best advice is to trust your instincts. Even if someone isn’t involved in County Lines drug dealing, they may be being exploited in some other way, so it’s always worth speaking out.

If you are a young person who is worried about your involvement, or a friend’s involvement in County Lines, a good option is to speak to an adult you trust and talk to them about your concerns.

Safer Somerset Partnership has launched a county wide County Lines campaign in partnership with Crimestoppers in a bid to stop illegal drug related criminal activity operating in the area.

If you are concerned for the welfare of a child or young person, please contact the police on 101 (or 999 if urgent). If you have information that will help the police investigate this crime but wish to remain anonymous you can contact www.crimestoppers-uk.org online or phone 0800 555111.

Resources

Illegal drugs activity is nothing new, but the risk of serious violence, the sophistication of the method and the targeted exploitation of vulnerable members of our communities makes County Lines a priority area of work for the Partnership and for this reason, Safer Somerset Partnership is delighted to present Somerset’s first County Lines Strategy.

Somerset County Lines Strategy – 2020-21

Car sharers advised to take precautions

The best travel options are walking and cycling, rather than sitting in an enclosed space with other people, but if you do need to drive or share a lift with people from other households, please take some sensible precautions:

  • share the transport with the same people each time
  • keep to small groups of people at any one time
  • everyone in the car should wear face coverings
  • try to keep as much distance as possible between each other
  • travel side by side or behind other people where possible, and try not to face them
  • open windows to allow air to circulate
  • everyone should remember to wash their hands properly before and after their journey.