THE leader of the district council is looking to people to suggest how to "take some good" from the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, the leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council, poses the question of how we want to live once the crisis is past.

Despite the terrible tragedy we have faced, Cllr Smith-Roberts points to a number of positive to have emerged, including a "sense of community" stronger than ever, less reliance on cars, leading to a cut in pollution and thriving wildlife.

She concedes there will be challenges as we come out of the crisis and says it is important to "build this new future together".

She adds: "I want to hear from you on how you think we can take some good from this unprecedented time."

This is the full text of Cllr Smith-Roberts's appeal for input from the public:

"Just a few weeks ago, we could all have described our 'normal' lives. It may have been meeting up with friends and family, going in to the office, relaxing in a coffee shop, taking our children to the park or a trip to the cinema. But our 'normal' may also have seen us spend hours stuck in traffic, struggling on low pay in tough jobs, living in poor quality housing, suffering with our mental health and breathing polluted air amid a worsening climate crisis.

"So, as we try and return to 'normal' or build a 'new normal', how do we want life to be different? In a recent YouGov poll, only 9% of the UK population wanted life to go back to how it was before the pandemic. We’ve had time to take a step back, look around, and see the changes we could make to improve our lives. Our sense of community has never been stronger, as we check on our neighbours and look after our most vulnerable. We come together once a week to applaud those risking their lives to save our loved ones and people we’ve never met.

"On our roads more of us, me included, are cycling more than ever before. There are 22% more bikes in use than in March. The air is cleaner, wildlife is thriving. Pop-up cycle lanes are appearing from Brighton to Manchester. How do we want our towns to capture this new two-wheeled willingness?

"Of course, along with these opportunities come challenges. Unemployment is likely to be higher than ever before. Many businesses won’t survive and the changes to our high streets will probably accelerate. This means how we stay connected and do business will have to change too.

"It’s important that we build this new future together. People in our council along with others in local and national government are making plans to regenerate the economy. I want to hear from you on how you think we can take some good from this unprecedented time.

"Email me at or send me a Facebook comment, on my page or SWT. Let’s get the conversation started."