My April Dove column was written before the extent of Coronavirus’ impact on our daily lives became clear. “Stay home >> Protect the NHS >> Save lives” has since become the triptych mantra.

Our pubs, cafés, restaurants, visitor attractions and non-essential shops have now all closed their doors; while our schools remain open only to children of key workers. Many Brutonians have joined those most at risk from this Coronavirus in staying at home in self-quarantine. Many are working from home to minimise non-essential travel, and some have sadly lost some or all of their usual income.

Two weeks into March, when the extent of these impacts became clearer, we started working with community groups, and the Health Coaches at Bruton Surgery, to develop a local Bruton Coronavirus Response. This has built upon the Emergency Plan and “Bruton Buddies” volunteer scheme developed in response to 2010’s big freeze.

Our collective response currently comprises…

  • A regularly updated list of Coronavirus (COVID-19) local resources, including health contacts, latest opening hours of shops, contact details of those delivering food and other supplies to those in self-quarantine. This list has been assembled by One Planet Bruton, and is maintained by volunteers.
  • Telephone Buddies telephone support (01749 321742) for those who are feeling isolated, lonely or worried; organised by volunteers from St Mary’s Church, Bruton.
  • A volunteer-led Food Drop for people in Bruton who have lost their jobs, or otherwise been severely affected financially as a direct result of Coronavirus.
  • Neighbours’ Support Pods to provide a resilient means of mutual aid, covering the nearest 20-or so homes, building upon Bruton’s strong community spirit. These Support ‘Pods’ complement local services and are co-ordinated by volunteers, following One Planet principles.
  • A new Coronavirus Local Resource line (01749 717002) to support people without internet access, or anyone you know who you think needs help.
  • Over 100 Brutonians have responded to our Call for Volunteers to date, for all of the above local initiatives – Thank you all! If the progression of this Coronavirus epidemic continues as forecast, we will need you all, and more.

I would like to personally thank all of the members of our Bruton community, and fellow Town Councillors, who have worked so hard over recent weeks to put these responses in place. I have not named you merely because this post would become too long!

More parochially, the Town Council last met physically on Saturday 21 March; when we passed a Business Continuity Resolution delegating authority to our Town Clerk, Stephen Hill, to progress ongoing matters and projects, in consultation with myself and the Vice Chair, Justin Robinson (plus the Assistant Clerk and Chair of Planning for Planning Applications). This was because the Local Government Act did not permit remote attendance of Town Council Meetings – although we fully expect new Regulations (currently in the hands of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) to enable this very soon…

… In anticipation, to increase rather than curtail participatory democracy, the Town Council has opened a Zoom video conferencing account – and we have begun using this for group working. I expect our 28 April Full Council to go ahead as Bruton Town Council’s first online public Meeting. Please download the Zoom app to join us on the 28th.

Ewan Jones, Chair of Bruton Town Council.

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