Category: Dorset

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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, […]

Who rebuilt Blandford Forum? The Ingenious B’stards!

Valery Collins

Blandford Forum is a pretty market town on the River Stour in the depths of the Dorset countryside. Visitors will be enchanted by its unique Georgian market-place and fascinated by the story of how the town recovered from a disastrous fire in 1731, which destroyed 90 per cent of the old town. An unusual chain […]

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 […]

Act now to stop the Parley waste incinerator

Sadie Parker

According to the latest edition of the Spectator, the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November this year is seen by Number 10 as a chance to relaunch ‘Brexit Britain’ as a green superpower. Hmm. To be a green superpower, you actually have to be green – and two-jets Johnson is taking us backwards in […]

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 […]

This Good Earth – recording of WCB event now available

Editor-in-chief

For those who missed the West Country Bylines event on 11 Feb 2021, the director Robert Golden has produced an audio record of the proceedings. As it was a recording of a zoom event, the sound can be erratic so please make allowances. The event was a special Q&A session following the release of Robert […]

A better urban wildlife legacy

Nick Dobbs

At the heart of Bournemouth and Poole lies an extraordinary 37 hectare fragment of the once Great Heath that stretched uninterrupted from the Purbecks to the New Forest. Eighty per cent of heathland has been lost since 1800 and today the UK is the custodian of 20 per cent of this remaining habitat worldwide. Talbot […]

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, […]

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 […]

Walking for health

Barbara Leonard

Just over a year ago I was one of small group of volunteer walk leaders sharing thoughts about a new virus being talked about on the news in the UK. Some of us had just returned from visits abroad where warnings about Covid 19 and measures to limit its spread were already happening, in sharp […]

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 […]

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 […]

“My small business is in ruins and I see no way out.”

Anthea Simmons

My £1m UK small business is in ruins and I see no way out. Tried everything, feel utterly powerless. Trade with EU virtually impossible. This was so predictable and predicted. Bastards! This is the tweet that could be sent by thousands of small businesses up and down the land. It is the tweet that should […]

The Third Gentleman of Swanage

Valery Collins

During the nineteenth century the fortunes of Swanage were dictated by a trio known as the Three Gentlemen of Swanage. Two of them, John Mowlem and George Burt developed the Purbeck stone trade, contributing to the fabric of the town as their business prospered and grew. It was the third, philanthropist William Morton Pitt, who […]

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 […]

‘Woke wars’: let’s hear it for the National Trust’s long history of radicalism

Tom Scott

When the National Trust was founded, it wasn’t just ‘woke’ – it was revolutionary. Yesterday, the National Trust published an interactive online map that shows how climate change threatens the countryside, coastline and historic houses in its care – including many sites in the South West. Extreme heat and humidity, coastal erosion, landslides, floods and […]

A freeport for Poole: Free trade or free ride?

Conor O'Luby

Will Poole soon become a ‘freeport’? Yes, if Drew Mellor, Conservative leader of Bournemouth Christchurch Poole (BCP) Council, gets his way. As the Brexit transition period approached in December 2020, Drew Mellor announced plans for a joint bid to government from Bournemouth Airport and the Port of Poole. The  bid also includes the Dorset’s local […]

Mars, the red planet

David Love

The night sky is an insufficiently appreciated wonder. On a dark and moonless night on Dartmoor, far from city lights, you can see a few thousand stars with the unaided eye. Yet this is just a tiny fraction of the 100,000,000,000 stars in our galaxy. We now know that a very high proportion of these […]