Category: Devon

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“Get Britain on its bike”- part 1: cycle-paths

Mike Zollo
Boris Johnson on a pushbike

what might encourage people to take up cycling, and what support and infrastructure exist to foster cycling … and what might put potential cyclists off! ‘Cyclist’ is a very broad term, ranging from those using two wheels to commute to work or to travel from a to b, through leisure cyclists and touring cyclists to serious club and competition cyclists.

Minister makes fishy suggestion on water quality

Tom Scott

Recent remarks by fisheries minister Victoria Prentis suggest the government is pressuring the Food Standards Agency to change its water quality assessment for the Fal estuary and other waters used by shellfish producers.  Cornwall Green Party has described this suggestion as “frankly outrageous”. On Wednesday 12 May, the DEFRA minister responsible for fisheries, Victoria Prentis, […]

“Why I was arrested blockading Rupert Murdoch’s printing press”

Caspar Hughes

On 5 September last year I was part of the Extinction Rebellion group that blockaded Rupert Murdoch’s printing press. We knew we were going up against a powerful group of men who own the Sun, The Times, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, all of which are printed at Rupert Murdoch’s printing press in Hertfordshire. […]

Letter to the editor: Dartington – threatened with devastating change

Editor-in-chief

“Conservative party plans at their worst were realised in Dartington yesterday. The disastrous Joint Local Plan and its unsustainable plan which dumped far too many new housing sites in Dartington, left its very grubby marks at SHDC Planning Committee yesterday. Very regrettably, all my fellow Councillors except for Cllr Kate Kemp, voted in favour of […]

Phone masts, freedoms and high finance: a tangled tale

Mick Fletcher

There is often more than one side to a story. Our aim at West Country Bylines is to give a balanced account of issues while avoiding distortion through what is known as ‘false equivalence’. It is a disservice to readers, for example, to give equal weight to the views of medical experts and unqualified anti-vaxxers […]

Meet a mass murderer: the Asian hornet

Anna Andrews

I wrote in West Country Bylines that bees are in trouble in the UK (they are in trouble in most parts of the world: apart from honeybees, most species are dropping in numbers); but one of the most urgent threats is not yet widely known about.  It comes from Asian hornets, which kill – amongst […]

Dartington Hall Trust and the dodgy dossier

Georgina Allen

In their first response to complaints submitted, the Information Commission Office (ICO) has ruled that Dartington Hall Trust violated data protection laws in their creation of a list of campaigners. Nearly a year ago now, the BBC and then the Times reported on a ‘Black List’ that Dartington Hall Trust (DHT) had created of people […]

If you want to keep your community hospital, you must stay vigilant

Anthea Simmons

Back in August of last year, we published an article by Mike Sheaff on NHS Property Services (NHSPS) and its aggressive policy on rents charged and eviction of tenants (GPs etc!) from NHSPS-owned properties. We have also carried a number of press releases from the campaigning body Save our Hospital Services (SOHS), including their fight […]

“DEFRA says get over it”: Brexit threatens to wreck Devon mussel business and DEFRA don’t much care

Julian Andrews

“DEFRA says get over it”, according to Nicki Holmyard, talking to West Country Bylines, and describing the response from the department for environment, food and rural affairs since live shellfish exports to the EU collapsed in January 2021. Nicki is Communications Director of the Brixham-based aquaculture firm Offshore Shellfish Ltd, which – in common with […]

Peaceful protest in action

Rachel Marshall

After a year of signing online petitions the government will simply ignore, this Saturday feeling a mixture of anxiety and compulsion, I went back to the streets to protest – while I still can – against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at one of the 25 protests that took place across the UK. […]

The unstoppable march of the masts

Mick Fletcher

Most of us want it both ways.  We are keen, often desperate, to get improved mobile coverage. At the same time, we don’t want our precious landscapes scarred by ugly and alien structures. Reconciling the two will always be tricky. However, a little-known piece of legislation called the Electronic Communications Code (EC code) tips the […]

Helping the police with their enquiries

Mike Zollo

Police interpreting: racism and xenophobia ‒ hardly a new phenomenon The southwest of our country has always attracted many Europeans, and not just tourists: many work in our schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, for example… and one mustn’t forget the language students who attend language schools in so many of our towns and cities. They […]

Virtual unreality and the over-centralised state

Mick Fletcher

It is not the worst decision taken by the current administration, but one that neatly encapsulates the insularity and arrogance of our over-centralised government: the powers that enable local authorities to function safely during the pandemic by holding meetings on-line will lapse on 7 May, and will not be renewed. The reason, to be blunt, […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land – part 3: what can be done?

Tony Whitehead

In the first two parts of this series I looked at the parlous state of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation. I gave reasons for how it came to be in such a poor state, and covered the influence of post war agricultural policy. In this final part, I will look at what can be […]

Clocks go forward one hour whilst UK goes back 50 years…

Anthea Simmons

Don’t forget to put your clocks forward one hour late Saturday night or early Sunday morning and enjoy a brief foray into the future whilst Brexit takes us back to the past…only this time we won’t be the sick man but the corrupt man of Europe. We must look to nature for blue skies and […]

Will the south-west’s MPs join Charles Walker’s milk protest?

Sadie Parker

It was a depressing, foregone conclusion that MPs would vote to renew the excessive powers granted to government under the Coronavirus Act 2020. Another dull afternoon in the Commons was in prospect, when suddenly the debate took a turn for the bizarre. An MP got up on his hind legs to give one of the […]

Listen to our debate on the future of the NHS and healthcare

Anthea Simmons

On 24 March, WCB ran the second of a series of Zoom Q&A events on hot political and socio-economic topics. In the wake of the publication of the Government’s white paper on the future of health and social care, the sale of GP practices to a US healthcare provider, privatisation of test and trace, the […]

The South West joins mass action on climate emergency

Rosie Haworth Booth

Further to the piece on 3 March by Tom Scott on Katharine Lewis and the Helston Climate Action Group, Rosie Haworth-Booth from North Devon alerts us to a cross country drive this weekend on bringing a crucial private member’s bill to greater public attention. People living in the UK don’t need to look far to […]

Welcoming prickly visitors

Helen Fairhurst

As nature starts to beckon in the spring, my thoughts turn to welcoming some prickly visitors. Each year I’m hopeful that I might see the return of hedgehogs on my little patch as they awake from hibernation. Sadly, the hedgehog population is in serious decline in the UK. The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report […]

Protest to save our right to protest

Sadie Parker

On the day Priti Patel’s pretty awful 296-page Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts (PCSC) Bill was due back in Parliament, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse, a long-time Johnson collaborator and former Deputy Mayor under him, was sent out to do the morning talkies. The PCSC Bill covers many topics, but the scope of Kit’s interview with […]

No-show Mangnall fails to engage with democracy

Laurie Taylor

Our MP’s empty chair was part of the focus of an online, public meeting on the evening of Thursday 11 March, held by Totnes Make Votes Matter (MVM), to discuss voting reform for parliamentary elections to Westminster. “Make Votes Matter”, a national cross-party campaign group, organised a mass lobby of MPs all over the country, to propose a change of the voting system […]

Puppy lust: the rise in heartbreaking pet theft

Sadie Parker

Imagine having a pair of dogs for company. They’re your everything, now that your spouse has passed on. Between walks they like a frolic in the garden. One day you let them out as you put the wash on and potter in your utility room. When you finish a short while later, you call out […]

The right to peaceful protest must not be undermined

Anthea Simmons

Did you take part in any of the anti-Brexit, pro-final say/People’s Vote marches in 2017/2018 or 2019? If you did, you will know what astonishingly well-mannered, convivial affairs they were (whether that was a good thing or not is another matter). Hundreds of thousands of people travelled up to London on coaches that left the […]