Category: Somerset

Culture wars, censorship and the ghost of William Blake

Virginia Button

Earlier this month, the first round of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund was announced by Arts Council England, with a welcome £257m allocated to 1,385 theatres, museums, orchestras, dance companies, music venues and other arts organisations impacted by Covid-19. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, […]

Lambs to the slaughter

Miles King

As we wait for what feels like the final slow-motion spin of the car as it hurtles inexorably towards the cliff edge, wondering if our heroes are going to escape from this seemingly impossible situation … again … no, stop there. Enough with the Hollywood imagery, the tired old metaphors. They just aren’t funny anymore. […]

Will we really be protecting 30 per cent of the land?

Mick Fletcher

My ears pricked up when I heard that the Prime Minister had committed to “protect 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030”. The pledge, made at a UN summit on biodiversity, sounds both ambitious and a welcome response to the environmental challenges facing the planet. With Johnson, however, the disappointment is usually in […]

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 […]

Know your place!

Eric Gates

No, not a Conservative MP addressing his family retainers, but a very useful internet resource. If you live in the west country, or are planning to visit, Know Your Place is a brilliant website that provides details of all sorts of local historical information. If you are interested in history, or like walking, or simply […]

What next for Somerset’s apple growers?

Oliver Patrick

Cornwall is renowned for the mighty Cornish pasty (awarded protected geographical indication status (PGI) in 2011). Devon is known, internationally, for cream tea. Dorset is famous for Blue Vinney cheese (awarded PGI status in 1998), whilst Somerset is probably best known for its apples and award-winning ciders. However, Somerset’s apple orchards face a bleak future: […]

Kindness is in our power: let’s use it.

Jo Molyneux

Editor’s preface: We are very proud to publish this powerful article from Jo Molyneux. It is not an easy read containing, as it does, some distressing and harrowing detail of man’s inhumanity to man. However, we feel that the subject is too important to pull any punches; but please be aware. It is the first […]

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 […]

NHS properties: what we all need to know

Mike Sheaff

In April 2016, Poltair Hospital near Penzance was sold to a property developer for £500,624. The site’s limitations were widely acknowledged, but there was a strongly expressed local view that the capital receipt should contribute to alternative local provision. The owner, NHS Property Services (NHSPS), would give no such commitment. In December 2016, NHSPS took […]

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 […]

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 […]

Resistance and hope

Anthea Simmons

First of all, a big thank you to all those who are reading our articles. The response has been fantastic. We’ve only been going for eight days, but already we are amplifying the reach of writers who deserve to be read, voices which need to be heard and issues which must be exposed. It’s great. […]

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 […]

Government plans to weaken nature protections

Miles King

I’m not much a Zoom enthusiast but the invitation to listen to Defra secretary of state George Eustice give a “major” speech on the environment, via Green Alliance, seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. So, having finally got zoom to work on my computer, I sat and listened to him talk for 15 […]

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 […]

Can an apprenticeship guarantee really tackle youth unemployment?

Mick Fletcher

Everybody loves apprenticeships it seems, especially for other people’s children.  This is why, when faced with a problem in education and training, politicians can’t help promising more of them.  But are they really the answer to the looming crisis of youth unemployment? Some appear to think so. Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Education Select […]