Category: Somerset

Page of 5

Fyshy business – letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Dear EiC Many thanks for Anthea Simmons’ pair of enlightening pieces on Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh. Having cast my line into the Register of Members Interests, I caught a couple of interesting minnows which supplement her arguments. The first article suggested Mr Fysh felt he had acquired some expertise in epidemiology and virology. Well he’s […]

Marcus Fysh talking codswallop. Part 2

Anthea Simmons

MP for Yeovil Marcus Fysh is on fire at the moment. He’s become an expert epidemiologist and virologist in the space of a few days and now he is acting like a business development exec for private healthcare insurance companies. At first it seemed as though he and Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris were […]

Marcus Fysh talking (potentially dangerous) codswallop. Part 1

Anthea Simmons

MP for Yeovil Marcus Fysh has miraculously become a medic – and an epidemiologist and virologist to boot. Perhaps he’s piloting a new government strategy aimed at filling the shortages in experienced staff across a whole range of sectors whereby an individual has only to express a nodding acquaintance with a subject or a function […]

Lack of learning from Somerset’s failure

Mick Fletcher

Somerset residents face the prospect of a serious cut in the adult education provision available in the county next year, and substantial staffing reductions in their major adult education provider. Somerset Skills and Learning (SSL) is having to turn hundreds of students away and make teaching staff redundant this summer after failing to win a […]

Dealing with disappointing data – a guide for aspiring autocrats

Mick Fletcher
Carnical models of Putin and Kim Jong-Un

Even the most authoritarian of regimes feel the need to pretend that they enjoy popular support. Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-Un, for example, routinely claim to have won huge majorities in elections that were quite clearly rigged. In a similar way, UK politicians whose actions show scant respect for democracy, work hard to give the […]

Garden villages – are they as green as they seem?

Mick Fletcher

In August 2018 the government set out proposals for the creation of ‘garden communities’, intended to tackle the chronic shortage of housing in the UK and raise the standard of building development.  The name consciously harks back to the ‘Garden City’ vision of Ebenezer Howard but also reflects one of the stock cliches of property […]

West Country Bylines is one year old: much to celebrate; much more to do

Editor-in-chief
birthday candles

West Country Bylines (WCB) launched a year ago with the help and support of Louise Houghton at Yorkshire Bylines, Mike Galsworthy and Tom Brufatto at March for Change and the blessing of Peter Jukes and Simon Colegrave at Byline Times. Run by a team of volunteer, citizen journalists, editors, proof readers and a picture editor […]

Devon has a message for Johnson and Javid: get your hands off our NHS!

Anthea Simmons

The government’s health and social care bill passed its second reading with barely a murmur from the mainstream media, much less any proper public scrutiny. Amongst a number of proposals which open up the NHS to private health providers is the carving up of the NHS into 42 ‘integrated care systems’ (ICSs). One of these […]

James Heappey MP – an officer but not quite a gentleman

Mick Fletcher
MP James Heappey

I have disagreed with my local MP James Heappey on many issues over the years but never before had occasion to doubt his courage. After all he has seen active service in Afghanistan and Iraq and being on the front line in those areas undoubtedly took guts.  Courage is about more than fighting, however, and […]

Pop-up glamping in Somerset

Valery Collins

Everything seems to pop up nowadays – restaurants, shops, bars, campsites. But a glamping campsite? I was not sure about that. However, I was willing to give it a try and set off for Pop-Up Somerset in the depths of rural Somerset. Pop-Up Campsites Visions of compost toilets and bucket showers played in my mind […]

Somerset binmen and Brexit: a story of waste

Mick Fletcher

Somerset residents have been warned by Somerset Waste Partnership that continued staff shortages will mean delays and interruptions to rubbish collection services across the county. The contractor, Suez, is struggling to cope with a lack of staff to drive their bin lorries and has called on people to be patient while they attempt to recruit […]

Lack of action on active travel in Somerset

Mick Fletcher

Somerset County Council (SCC) have contacted us over our article on cycle paths in Somerset. They asked us to add three points giving the perspective of the County Highways Department on some of the key issues raised. We are pleased to set out their comments here in the interests of balance and to quote in […]

Somerset Levels and Moors – rhetoric vs reality in the nature emergency

Tony Whitehead
Somerset Levels

If you live on the Somerset Levels and Moors, ask simply “will what I am hearing improve water quality here?”. Because unless national policy makes a real difference where you are, it is largely useless. We are in a nature and climate emergency. We need the government to show leadership and ambition that delivers action because they fully understand what this means.

Highway holdup for Somerset cyclists

Mick Fletcher
group of cyclists on Brean Way cycle-path

Slow progress on cycle-paths One of the reasons that progress in developing a network of cycle-paths in England is glacially slow is that opposition turns up where you might reasonably have expected support. ‘Blocked by the Burdensome Estate’ set out how an agency sponsored by the Department for Transport is still undermining moves to create […]

Somerset wants local government to be local

Mick Fletcher
Leaders of the four regional concils behind Stronger Somerset

Double defeat for Jenrick It’s a double defeat for ‘Honest Bob’ Jenrick.  Firstly, the free vote of Somerset residents that he tried so hard to stop has taken place. Secondly local electors resoundingly rejected the option he so obviously preferred – the ambition of failing Somerset County Council (SCC) to take over the four districts.  […]

A ban on the use of peat…or is it?

Mick Fletcher

News that the government is contemplating a partial ban on the use of peat in horticulture is welcome but needs to be put in context. A government that is serious about tackling climate change would have to take some really tough decisions. To reduce emissions from air travel for example it would have to face […]

Ian Liddell-Grainger sums up the Somerset ‘spoof’ situation and urges everyone to vote in the referendum the establishment tried to stop

Editor-in-chief

West Country Bylines contacted Mr Liddell-Grainger for a comment for our article earlier today (24 May) and he responded with this, giving us permission to use it however we liked. We’re showing you the original document and the text, in case it’s not clear on your device. “The “spoof website” that eclipsed the start of […]

Fysh in a flap over democracy

Anthea Simmons

What is it with the current Conservative government and democracy? Voter suppression via ID cards, switching from a progressive proportional representation voting system to the regressive first past the post system (FPTP) for mayoral elections. (And that’s because, as we have seen, under FPTP a party can get a stonking majority on a minority of […]

Brexit…out of fashion in Somerset

Richard Wilkins

It would be fair to say that businesses in Somerset are now really starting to feel the effects of Brexit and our new trade deals with the EU and the rest of the world. From all the businesses I have spoken to so far the effects have ranged from bureaucratic nightmares with unnecessary paperwork and […]

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 […]

Somerset Green New Deal Economy Forum 22 May

Editor-in-chief

Somerset Green New Deal Economy Forum: Social Justice and a New Economy. Taunton and West Somerset Build Back Better Campaigns (Green New Deal) are committed to a post COVID-19 recovery that embeds social justice and health and wellbeing in all its manifestations – including philosophy, politics and practical actions. The forum will be held on […]

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 […]

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 […]