Section: Region

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Vaccine: I’ll have it. Will you?

Sarah Cowley

A vaccine is on the way – hooray! Most people cheered when elated Pfizer and BionTech scientists announced their news last week, revealing that early results showed their vaccine to be 90 per cent effective against Covid-19. It was the first in a line of good news stories about possible vaccinations coming on stream. Will […]

What’s next for Somerset Film?

Mick Fletcher

“It was fresh air that kept us sane” said Kathy, reflecting on growing up in the 1940s. Kathy was part of ‘Making Waves’, three days of FM community radio shows created by Bridgwater Senior Citizens’ Forum in 2012. Broadcasting from an empty High Street shop, the Forum’s sometimes provocative but always warm-hearted shows were well […]

2026: an irreverent look into the future

Devon Doodler

It is the Autumn of 2026. The general election of late 2024 produced historically low voter participation and resulted in no overall parliamentary majority for any single party. A Government of National Unity has now been formed, following a protracted period of bitter in-fighting amongst Tory MPs about the dire consequences of Brexit on the […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land, part 2: cause and effect

Tony Whitehead
view of Dartmoor, close-cropped yellowed grass

In the second of three articles, environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers how Dartmoor’s nature came to be in such a poor state. In part one, I paid attention to two of Dartmoor’s key wildlife habitats: the blanket bogs and upland heaths. Over the past 150 years, Dartmoor’s blanket bogs were cut for peat, drained for […]

People, Poverty, Power

Catrina Davies

Cornwall-based author Catrina Davies offers some tips for leading a better life on this beautiful planet – and for changing the broken system that is driving poverty and environmental destruction. Last Saturday I was on the BBC, talking to Simon Reeve about Cornwall and housing. Many of you have written to me about it, via email […]

MPs should be fixing policy, not potholes

Mick Fletcher

After writing to my local MP, James Heappey, about the threat to food and farming posed by US agricultural interests, I received his standard acknowledgement and holding reply. It contained, as usual, the lines “I receive a large number of emails each day and whilst we do aim to respond in the order that we receive […]

Remembrance

Eric Gates

On Wednesday 11 November at 11am, I shall be standing by the village war memorial, leading the act of Remembrance. The memorial is beside quite a busy road, so the 2 minute silence will be subject to interruption, and in most years there are no more than 10 or so of us in attendance; this […]

The truth matters, Mr Mangnall. Surely you realise that now?

Anthea Simmons

If the events of the past few days have shown us anything, it is that, in the end, truth really must and will prevail. Big whoppers, small fibs – doesn’t really matter. A lie is a lie is a lie and spinning it as a half truth won’t wash. Let’s just consider the circled text […]

Winter night skies – ancient and modern

Bob Mizon

Arching across the winter night sky from horizon to horizon is the silvery stream of the Milky Way, our galaxy of possibly half a trillion stars, the second largest of a family of about fifty galaxies that form the so-called Local Group. The Milky Way flows through ancient constellations: Canis Major, the great dog; Orion, […]

A breath or two of hope

Jo Molyneux

Recently I have begun feeling a little swamped by depressing stories regarding the scale of Covid-19 infections, Tory party skullduggery, disinformation and the state of our planet. There are a million and one minor stresses for us all, on top of that. It didn’t feel quite so bad in the summer, but now the nights […]

“Don’t sell our farmers out to the mighty dollar.” North Devon relief milker and team vicar urges MPs to support Amendment 16b

Anthea Simmons

We ran this article last week on Torridge Council’s decision to express its anger at the government’s decision to vote against protecting food and animal welfare standards in the Agriculture Bill. One of the passionate supporters of the motion proposed by sheep farmer and councillor, Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin, was the local Rural Dean and team vicar, […]

…and on another front of the culture war

Eric Gates

“The National Trust has been contacted by the charity regulator over claims that it has strayed from its ‘clear, simple purpose’ to preserve historic buildings and treasures. Regulators approached the charity this month after receiving complaints from the public about its review into links between its estate and slavery during the British empire.” Do people […]

Dorset MPs: half term reports part II – our ‘country’ MPs are in two camps

Sadie Parker

Michael Tomlinson, Conservative MP for Mid-Dorset North Poole (Government Whip) By convention, Whips do not speak in parliament, so Michael Tomlinson’s spoken contributions are rare, and there were none this half-term. Nor were there any written questions. Whips also tend to be circumspect outside of Parliament and avoid the press, although Tomlinson did speak out […]

Dorset MPs: half term report. Our ‘town’ MPs have let us down

Sadie Parker

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East (Chair, Defence Committee) Tobias Ellwood (elected 2005) is arguably Dorset’s most influential MP. He is a good orator, radiates gravitas and brings an energetic enthusiasm to his work. Perhaps his most memorable moment these past six weeks was labelling Boris Johnson’s trade negotiation strategy with the EU ‘Nixonian […]

Jenrick’s planning reforms have nothing to say about tax dodges

Miles King

It’s the last day for responses to the Government’s latest proposals to reform the planning system, to “level up” and solve the housing crisis, if you believe the spin. The proposals include zoning land (at a large scale) for development and could create a cash bonanza for landowners, as illustrated by this local story. A couple […]

Can a survey really be so bad by accident?

Mick Fletcher

When I was alerted to the fact that the public administration and constitutional affairs committee (PACAC) of the House of Commons had produced a survey asking members of the public about priorities for a constitution, democracy and rights commission, I sought it out. Like many, I think there are serious flaws in our democratic processes […]

The worst and the best of Cornwall

Tom Scott

The news that every one of Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs had voted against extending help to hungry children came as little surprise to anyone who had studied the parliamentary voting history of Scott Mann (North Cornwall), Derek Thomas (St Ives), Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay), Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall), Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and […]

Timeline of a Tory PR disaster – the free school meals debacle

Sadie Parker

“Short of drowning a basket of puppies live on air, I can’t think of a worse communications fail.” No, that wasn’t me. That was Sarah Vine in the Mail on Sunday in a column entitled, “How could N°10 let free school meals turn into a dog’s dinner?”  Me agreeing with the fragrant Mrs Gove —for […]

“Brexit and Fascism: heed the warning signs while you still can, Mr Mangnall” – a constituent writes to his MP

Simon Chater

Anthony Mangnall M.P. House of Commons London SW1A 0AA                                                                  26 October 2020 Dear Mr Mangnall I’m writing this open letter to you in reply to yours of 27 July 2020, which reprimands me for calling Brexit out as a “resurgence of the disease of fascism”.   Be in no doubt: that’s exactly what Brexit is. […]

Why we should all care about the betrayal of British farmers

Sadie Parker

Farmers will be better off if we vote to leave the EU, they said. We’d decide our own rural strategy, abolish the hated basic payment system, pay farmers more, keep and maybe even enhance farmers’ subsidies just as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland do. And we’d get rid of those pesky regulations — all while improving […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land, part 1: how meaningful is protection?

Tony Whitehead

Environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers the extent to which Dartmoor’s nature is protected, and the shocking condition of its protected sites. On 28 September Boris Johnson committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030. A fine ambition, of course, and to be welcomed. In the government statement that accompanied the announcement […]