Category: Somerset

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Your guide to the tactical vote to defeat the Conservative and how to help make sure the tactical candidate wins

Editor-in-chief

Just because the Conservatives are set to lose power nationally, they are still able to hang on to seats where the progressive vote is split and/or ambiguous, thanks to our anachronistic and undemocratic first-past-the-post system (shared only by Belarus…) Fortunately, we can turn to the big aggregator sites like www.stopthetories.vote and Best for Britain’s www.getvoting.org […]

Let’s get filming – let’s change the world

Phil Shepherd

YouTube footage from the climate change conference COP 26 in Glasgow in 2021  reveals scores of delegates chanting “Another world is possible”. It reflected their disillusionment at the compromised conference process and at the lack of governments’ commitment to meaningful action in the face of the escalating climate crisis. While, unsurprisingly, the footage was not […]

A new deal for the eel

Mick Fletcher

England’s eels are in trouble. Since the 1980s, the numbers in our rivers and wetlands have declined by some 90 per cent. Without urgent intervention, a once-common animal could face extinction. There are several reasons for this dramatic fall. One of the most obvious is the growth of man-made barriers blocking access to suitable habitat. […]

Somerset cuts and the cost of care: a story of defunding and privatisation that is replicated right across the country

Mick Fletcher

In 2021, I wrote about the dangerous dowry left to the new Somerset unitary authority by the previous Conservative council. The combination of an unwanted reorganisation and a systematic failure to invest in local services had left Somerset especially vulnerable to financial crisis. The warning of trouble ahead was all too correct. In November 2023, […]

A dangerous dowry for the new Somerset unitary authority

Mick Fletcher

We are reissuing this horribly-prescient article, given the parlous state of so many councils across the UK. The prospects for the new unitary authority recently imposed on Somerset are not good. Like local government everywhere, the county is having to cope with a dysfunctional funding system and a decade of austerity. It will soon have […]

Active travel is the path to follow

Mick Fletcher

On Saturday September 16, a short section of traffic-free path in rural Somerset was officially opened. It was a small thing in itself, just over one mile in length and, at present, with no onward off-road connection at either end. Nevertheless, it illustrates some very important points. The path, and others like it currently being […]

Conspiracy theorists awake – and are heading to a town near you

Tom Scott

When Russell Brand issued his pre-emptive denial in an attempt to get ahead of the horrendous allegations of rape and sexual assault aired by The Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches on Saturday, he addressed his 6.6 million YouTube subscribers with the words: “Hello there, you awakening wonders.” It’s Brand’s standard greeting to his followers and […]

Traffic reduction in coastal towns – a suggestion

Dr Richard Lawson

As a young man I took a holiday in the West Country in my van, carrying a small home-built sailing boat, looking for beaches and slipways from which to access the endless ocean. The map showed a slipway in one small town on a beautiful Cornish estuary, so I headed off the main road and […]

Sewage, phosphates and the housing crisis in Somerset

Mick Fletcher

People understand sewage. It stinks. So does the system that has allowed privatised water companies to make huge profits while failing to upgrade our sewage treatment system. Over the last eleven years the companies have paid out £16.8 billion in dividends while sewage discharges continue to be unacceptably high. Graphic pictures of raw sewage spilling […]

The very first Somerscience Festival! Save the day: Monday May 1 2023

Chris Ambrose

Colleen Bower has a mission. With her background in education, she is concerned that young people in South Somerset – a largely rural population – are missing out on experience of, and access to, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM subjects). Over time, she has got together with local councillors and many organisations and businesses […]

A small step for Shepton, but a step change for active travel

Mick Fletcher

On a cold March morning, a small crowd gathered in Shepton Mallet to mark the opening of a very short section of cyclepath. To an outside observer it will have seemed a pleasant but unremarkable event – a welcome addition to local infrastructure, but not much more. In fact, it could prove quite significant. A […]

A state of denial

Richard Paul-Jones

As the Conservatives continue their race to the bottom it is clear that they are in denial. They deny that Brexit was an act of stupidity and wanton self-harm. They deny that Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng caused a disaster. They will deny that ‘Levelling Up’ has died in a ditch. And they will deny […]

Greenwashing on the Somerset Levels? Letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing to you in order to highlight what I perceive to be a greenwashing issue regarding the Somerset Levels. I was under the impression that following the Dutch N court case, the Somerset levels were protected from any additional phosphate discharge due to either their unfavourable condition or that they are […]

A quiet burial for Tory failure in Somerset

Mick Fletcher

Somerset’s politicians can’t sneak anything past Mick Fletcher when it comes to further and adult education… Tucked away at chapter 12, in a document only of interest to specialists in further education, is evidence of another quiet failure of Tory dogma. In a routine administrative update from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) two […]

Somerset local councillor offers FREE air monitors to local businesses

Editor-in-chief

A Somerset County Councillor is on a clean air mission. “I’m keen to learn the lessons of the pandemic” says Councillor Oliver Patrick, “and one of those lessons is that airborne diseases like Covid spread easily between people indoors where ventilation is poor.” Oliver’s clean air campaign began in September when he started raising money […]

Ukrainian Christmas in the UK

Alan Wilson

The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church gave special dispensation for Ukrainian refugees to celebrate Christmas on 25 December instead of on the customary date, so here in Somerset we treated our guests to an authentic English Christmas meal of turkey with all the trimmings, crackers, carols, and stockings. Our tradition of kissing under mistletoe […]

Medical crisis and moral injury – the state of the NHS in Somerset

Mick Fletcher

Although government seems to be in denial, it is clear that the NHS is in crisis – a consequence, in large part, of a decade of underfunding.  The impact on the service nationally has been logged in detail, with the Financial Times offering a series of particularly thorough analyses.   We wanted to find out […]

Take up your Pennon/South West Water shares!

Anthea Simmons

If you are a South West water customer, you should have received a letter offering a you a small sum of money or shares in South West Water’s parent company, Pennon Group. Being a shareholder gives you the right to attend the annual general meeting and ask questions of the board of directors. It is […]

I saw the monster but couldn’t see the point

Mick Fletcher

On a cold, dull and windy day I went to Weston to see the monster. At a distance it looked disappointingly small, dwarfed by miles of empty sand and sea, but as I walked along the beach it grew until its full scale was apparent. So, too, was its oddity. The monster – a repurposed […]

Fysh swims against the tide

Mick Fletcher

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh is clearly not afraid of adopting controversial positions. Last Christmas, for example, he was widely criticised for comparing the idea of vaccine passports to living in Nazi Germany. In June 2020 he was ordered to apologise for “patronising conduct” towards the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. Now, in comments that say more about […]

The miracle of cider

Mick Fletcher

We didn’t plant the orchard just for fruit. In some ways the wildlife interest and impact on the landscape were more important. We wanted proper trees, full standards on non-dwarfing rootstock. We wanted trees that would outlive us and probably our children as well, growing tall and hanging heavy with mistletoe, becoming crusted with lichen […]

Why are you prioritising profits over people, Mr Rees-Mogg?

Editor-in-chief
Jacob Rees-Mogg

As a Yeovil resident and writing in a personal capacity rather than as a county councillor, Oliver Patrick has asked his MP Marcus Fysh to forward a letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg – the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In the letter Oliver says he has “grave concerns” over the way […]

The mysterious glow

Mick Fletcher

At around 9.30pm, on a warm summer evening in late July, some 40 residents of Westbury-sub-Mendip converged on the centre of the village and waited for it to get dark. They were taking part in the annual glow-worm count that has been carried out at about this time for the last 17 years. A small […]

Two years of telling it like it is.

Editor-in-chief

Wow! It’s our second birthday on 23 July. We started out as West Country Bylines and now we’ve completed nearly 7 months as West Country Voices and all thanks to the same great team of editors and proof readers, excellent writers – some new, some longstanding contributors – and a growing band of loyal readers […]