James Heappey Weekly Column

Levels of infection in the Cheddar Valley and across Mendip are now incredibly low. There haven’t been any Covid-19 cases in Mendip for a while and there have been hardly any cases reported in Sedgemoor. This might feel at odds with the story two weeks ago about an R Rate above 1 but we now know that there were a string of false positive tests administered in Taunton which will have inflated our regional rate. When levels of infection are as low in our region as they are, even a small number of false positive tests would significantly increase the R Rate.

Perversely it is some of the things that would normally be seen as a negative that are to thank for the low level of infections in the Wells Constituency: Our lack of public transport and our rurality have both helped to keep the reproduction rate down!

However, that doesn’t mean our lack of connectivity is something to be accepted as a positive forever. So over the last few weeks I’ve held a number of meetings in which we’ve been trying to take forward my plans for a new train station in Shepton Mallet. These processes are always slow and, for now, we’re still bidding for the money to develop the bid, but reversing Beeching cuts was an eye-catching manifesto commitment and the fact our track is still in place, means that Shepton makes a more compelling case than elsewhere.

I’ve also been pleased to see the Government make money available to improve cycling and walking infrastructure so that we build on the higher level of both activities that we’ve seen during the lockdown. There are some great schemes that we could and should develop in Mendip and the Cheddar Valley. I’m looking forward to pitching those plans to Government in the weeks ahead.