In my last column, I gave an update on the investment that’s taking place in our towns, villages and rural communities.

So I was delighted to learn recently 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.

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.

Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority invited community groups to apply for grants for projects that will have a positive impact on the environment or biodiversity.

Funding will be used to improve the 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 and Compton Martin will have insulation added to the vaulted roof of the hall.

Other grants will go to Chelwood Parish Council to repair the village hall roof and insulate the building and to Chew Magna Old Schoolroom Charity to retrofit a room to help adapt to flooding events.

Peasedown St John will benefit from solar panels and roof insulation and Radstock Town Council will receive a grant to make it easier to navigate the town centre, connect with local walking and cycling routes and strengthen biodiversity awareness.

Farmborough Village Sport & Social will receive funding to install an air-to-air source heat pump heating system and hot water system in a refurbished building to reduce energy consumption.

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

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

We’ve recently also set out plans to improve Staddlestones Riverside Park in Midsomer Norton, following a public consultation. The updated plan now includes new and improved pathways, the addition of a dry circuit route around the park, extra benches and seats, more trees and the creation of meadow areas to improve biodiversity, replacing the football pitch with two smaller goals for a more casual kickabout, and the addition of a boules pitch.

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.

Finally, we had several 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.”