Section: Region

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Is local democracy dead?

Mike Temple

Ever felt powerless to prevent unwanted development? Ever thought you weren’t being heard by your local council? Ever given up in despair? Join the millions across the country who feel that local democracy is dead, that power lies in the hands of a rich elite and their friends and backers, and that “you stand no […]

Somerset’s ambitious plan: carbon net zero by 2030

Oliver Patrick

The UK is committed to being carbon net zero by 2050; however, Somerset’s councils have declared they will work towards the same target 20 years earlier. So what is the scale of the challenge in Somerset and what part can we play, as a community, in reaching this ambitious goal? In 2019 all five of […]

Council’s commercial gamble

Richard Wilkins

Is it right for local councils to turn to commercialisation to fill holes in their finances? Local councils are facing the biggest cuts to government funding since 2010, with the Local Government Association (LGA) revealing that, overall, councils will have suffered a 77 per cent decrease in government funding between 2015/16 and 2019/20. This represents […]

The ground beneath my feet

Will Hazell

For Will Hazell, lockdown has been a time to discover and connect with the rich tapestry of landscape and history within walking distance of his home. Tucked beside a footpath near Falmouth, Cornwall, there’s a small gravestone with the epitaph “PUNCH OF MENEHAY A PAL 1937”, erected, apparently, to celebrate the legacy of a much-beloved […]

Useless Eustice? No, he’s much worse than that

Tom Scott

This article references some vile, racist language which we have reproduced, rather than hide just how morally-repulsive some individuals are. Editor George Eustice has risen from obscurity to become the smooth-talking frontman for some of the worst aspects of Brexit. In February, Environment Minister George Eustice was loudly booed by an audience of farmers at […]

Somerset powers up!

Richard Wilkins

Somerset powers up as cutting-edge green energy storage scheme gets turned on. South Somerset District Council (SSDC) has proudly turned on the largest council-owned battery storage system in the UK. Located next to a National Grid substation near Taunton, the site – purchased in 2018 – has been transformed, in partnership with local and international […]

Dorset MPs: end of term reports Part II

Sadie Parker

Michael Tomlinson, Conservative MP for Mid-Dorset North Poole (Government Whip). By convention, whips don’t speak in parliamentary debates, and so there are no parliamentary interventions to report on for Michael Tomlinson. His name often appears on motions debated in the House and he frequently acts as a teller in votes. Whips also do not give […]

Test, track and trace in Cornwall: a tangled web

Jane Stevenson

Cornwall has the resources to do effective Covid-19 contact tracing. So why is it not being allowed to do so? Jane Stevenson talks to Councillor Colin Martin, who has been trying to find out. Our national Test, Track and Trace system has come into sharp focus as we come out of lockdown. Boris Johnson’s “world-beating” […]

End of term reports: Dorset MPs Part 1: a mixed bag…

Sadie Parker

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East (Chair, Defence Committee). Tobias was frequently in the news this session, whether it was being the only Tory MP brave enough to put in an appearance on Good Morning Britain to face a grilling by Piers Morgan, or calling for aid for his beleaguered constituency when 500,000 flocked […]

Order! Order! End of term reports for Devon’s MPs

Dumbledrone

As parliament goes into recess again, how have Devon’s 12 MPs performed since our bleak midwinter election? Dumbledrone buzzes around the county to take a look at which voices are reaching Westminster from Devon. Neil Parish of Tiverton and Honiton continues to make his heaviest contributions in the areas of agriculture and food, and took […]

Vets in lockdown

Dr Kate Stitt

Vets are used to dealing with wriggly and reluctant patients. But as the UK plunged into Covid-19 lockdown in late March, this was among the least of their challenges. Veterinary practices up and down the country have scrambled to find ways to continue to look after their patients. Almost overnight, my whole profession had to […]

Overpriced fish and chips

Catrina Davies

Cornwall’s future, as an increasingly commodified playground for people who choose to have their real lives elsewhere, looks bleak. In the post-coronavirus, climate-emergency world, we have to dream better, argues Catrina Davies. I grew up in Cornwall doing low-pay, low-status jobs and being obediently grateful for tourism. Mining was finished; fishing and farming in decline. […]

Blocked by the ‘burdensome estate’

Mick Fletcher

The Strawberry Line is an ambitious project to provide a safe off-road path for cyclists and others, linking the communities along the southern boundary of the Mendip Hills.   It seeks, as far as possible, to follow the track of the old railway line of that name, famous for the boxes of fruit it hauled to […]

Build! Build! Build!

Margaret Ellis

What will our future look like? The government is faced with three major events which will affect our lives for decades to come – the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit, and climate change. A return to what we regarded as normal is neither possible nor (for many) desirable. So it was that the government began to set […]

Museums and galleries in extraordinary times

Virginia Button

As Cornwall’s museums and galleries prepare to reopen, what should be their focus in a post-Covid world? After long months of closure, from 4 July museums and galleries in England have had permission to reopen their doors to visitors. It’s a gradual process, as organisations access their specific health and operational risks, and prepare us […]

Forestry rethink needed after barbecue inferno.

Miles King

The ground was bone dry and everything was flowering early. I was up at Poundbury (near Dorchester), checking on an area of wildflower meadow that I’d arranged to have sown. After the incessant downpours of the Autumn and Winter, the rain stopped. Then we had just 60mm of rain across two months. It was yet […]

The bucket list

Anita G

Anita moved from the Netherlands to Cornwall with her family in 2014. They were blissfully happy here. Then the referendum came and her husband was diagnosed with cancer… Young Matt: “I get so angry sometimes. People are so unthinking. They say ’We just don’t want any more newcomers, that’s all. People that are here can […]

Welcome to West Country Bylines

Anthea Simmons

Welcome to the first edition of West Country Bylines, a new online paper for people in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. Run by volunteers and showcasing local writers, West Country Bylines will be scrutinising and calling out those in power, challenging the narrative spun by the mainstream media, and giving a voice to those with […]

Build back better

Belinda Bawden

Do you remember last summer? It was hot all around the world. So hot that alarms were sounding everywhere about the need to act now on climate change. Prince Charles joined scientists in warning of the urgency, suggesting that we had an 18-month window to change our current trajectory. Of course, it’s not just about […]