Category: Local Politics

Free meals…for MPs. Living it up at others’ expense.

Sly Old Fox

Editor: We like to bring you Twitter threads which you may have missed or will otherwise never see because you aren’t on the platform. This is a gem. Shocking.If you have not already done so, please sign Marcus Rashford’s petition. The 322 @Conservative MPs who voted against extending Free School Meals during holidays have themselves […]

Tin-eared, tone-deaf – Selaine Saxby gets it very, very wrong

Anthea Simmons

No-one should have to tolerate abuse in the workplace and bullying is wholly unacceptable. An MP is a public servant with a duty of care to his or her constituents. Having taken on a public role, MPs must expect to attract opprobrium if they act in ways which their constituents do not like. They should […]

The dark side of the prom: Cold War Steve beached

Sadie Parker
Cold War Steve's artwork on Bournemouth beach depicting the positive side of the UK and its valuese

When asked whether he would be producing any new episodes of his famous satirical show, ‘The Thick Of It’, Armando Iannucci replied that British politics was now so silly, it was beyond parody. One artist who has, nonetheless, successfully satirised not just British politics, but populist politics around the world over the past four years […]

Levelling up to new heights of corruption

Tom Scott

Few towns in the South West will receive funding from the government’s Towns Fund – and now we know why. In September 2019, local government secretary Robert Jenrick published a list of 101 places that would receive help to develop bids for funding from the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund. There was suspicion at the […]

Land of bronchoscope and lorry

Sadie Parker

Imagine the surprise in Devon, Dorset and Somerset when people awoke to discover that Robert Jenrick — he of regeneration-funds-for-votes and cash-for-planning-favour infamy — has initiated a massive land-grab of their counties. Wielding a Henry VIII clause, the millennial Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (HC&LG) has drawn up Statutory Instrument 2020 […]

Anyone for tea and class war?

Sadie Parker

Examgate finally laid bare the hollowness of the Tory “levelling up” mantra, which helped them win over voters in the so-called “Red Wall” seats in the 2019 election. Was this utter catastro-shambles merely an unfortunate accident, or was it a deliberate act —the Government’s boldest move yet in a covert class war? Looking back over […]

Strapped-for-cash councils unable to enforce chemical safety rules.

Emma Rose

Councils are unable to enforce rules on chemical safety as new research shows one in four products tested – including children’s toys – contain dangerous levels of hazardous chemicals New research published on 17 August by Unchecked UK shows that local authorities are struggling to keep up with booming sales of counterfeit goods containing illegal […]

Planning for the future: an open letter from Kernow Matters to Us

Anthea Simmons

Editor’s comment: this open letter is published to amplify local voices. It has not been edited. To: Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing Communities & Local Government Rt Hon George Eustice MP  Steve Double MP Cornwall’s Representative to the Council of Europe Scott Mann MP Sherryl Murray MP Derek Thomas MP […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]