In my last column, I gave an update on the investment we are making in our towns, villages and rural communities. These range from creating better and more connected cycle routes in the Midsomer Norton and Westfield area to agreeing on a Radstock Regeneration Action Plan based on residents’ feedback.

Since then, we’ve also set out plans to improve Staddlestones Riverside Park in Midsomer Norton, following a public consultation. The proposals are part of the Somer Valley Rediscovered project, which aims to improve local health and wellbeing by promoting the links between residents and green space and by increasing biodiversity in the area.

We’ve also recently learned that nine parish and town councils in Bath and North East Somerset are set to benefit from £260,000 to help install energy-saving measures like solar panels and air-to-air source heat pumps.

The money is from the West of England Rural Fund, which is funded by the UK government through the Rural England Prosperity Fund, part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

B&NES Council and WECA invited community groups to apply for grants for projects that will have a positive impact on the environment or biodiversity.

Westfield Parish Council will receive funding to install a new footbridge to encourage public access to Grove Wood, Haydon Batch and Waterside Valley.

Funding will be used to improve energy efficiency and reduce the CO2 emissions of village or community halls: East Harptree and Bishop Sutton will have solar panels installed on the roof.

Peasedown St John will benefit from solar panels and roof insulation and Compton Martin will have insulation added to the vaulted roof of the hall.

Radstock Town Council will receive a grant to make it easier to navigate the town centre, connect with local walking/cycling routes and strengthen biodiversity awareness.

My thanks to all those who put forward bids to this scheme and my congratulations to the successful projects.

Finally, we had many speakers at our Full Council meeting last month on the terrible situation in Gaza. At the meeting, the Council Chair read out a statement agreed by all group leaders on this important issue, and I think it is right that I set it out in full, as below: “We would like to express deep sympathy for all those affected by the conflict in Palestine and Israel. To those in the Bath and North East Somerset area who have been affected by this conflict, we offer our support during this difficult time.

“We hope for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution to this conflict. We hope for the immediate release of all hostages and for aid to be delivered.

“We believe that Muslims, Jews and people of all faiths and none should feel safe and supported throughout the world and we therefore condemn the increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic violence and abuse in the UK. In particular, we condemn the use of all dehumanising language and call on our communities to treat each other with respect and refrain from inflammatory terms to describe either the Palestinian or Israeli populations.”