Category: Somerset

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“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Somerset businesses hit by Brexit: box set

Richard Wilkins

Data published 22 March by UK Food & Drink Federation showed exports of food & drink to the EU from the UK dropped by more than 75 per cent in January. There was a 40 per cent decline in exports overall, and business leaders are saying that this is almost entirely due to Brexit. A […]

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 […]

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 […]

School funding crisis in Somerset will mean closures and redundancies

Editor-in-chief

Somerset County Council shows no signs of changing course on school closures and staff redundancies in Somerset  Plans for wholesale changes to schools in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area came to Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee this week (Wednesday 3 March), prior to the Council’s Cabinet making a final decision on […]

Wild Beer and Brexit

Richard Wilkins

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Indeed, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) which are defined as businesses with fewer than 250 employees, accounted for 60 per cent of all private sector jobs in the UK, a total of 16.6m. Make no mistake about it, SMEs are crucial to the UK’s economy and their […]

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 […]

The truth behind Government’s healthcare ‘reforms’

Rosie Haworth Booth

Have you heard about the new health and social care ‘reforms’? The reforms which are restructuring the administration of care across the country, and which claim to overturn the worst aspects of those set up by Andrew Lansley in 2012? Are you glad to hear that these new structures, known as Integrated Care Systems, or […]

Bypassing scrutiny and accountability – is THAT taking back control? We have to update…AGAIN.

Anthea Simmons

This government’s evident resistance to undergoing any process of scrutiny is now taking the country into very dangerous territory. This country allegedly operates a parliamentary democracy, with our elected representatives scrutinising, debating and voting on new laws and changes to existing legislation, holding the executive to account, including checking and approving spending and taxation. UPDATE: […]

Brexit and Cheddar

Richard Wilkins

What are the impacts of Brexit on the local businesses in the West Country? What changes have they had to make in this last month? Are their businesses better or worse off? In earlier articles, we have talked to companies involved in transport and natural beauty products. Now, we find out about one of the […]

From star to satellite – science in a post-Brexit world

David Love

In matters scientific, European nations do far better working together Our civilisation has advanced dramatically in the last few hundred years and we have only to look to the leaps made in science and technology to understand why. Yet how many people realise that a key element of science lies in cooperation between different nations?  […]

Is our democracy toast? Part 2 of the double-barrelled piece

Sadie Parker
Rees-Mogg standing in front of a burning forest with democracy fishing agriculture, food e-commerce and financial service all burning down

Fishers feel betrayed. Boats are in dry-dock, fish markets are bereft of trade, and five-generation businesses are facing bankruptcy. No Brexiter politicians are posing with them now. No Brexiter politicians are even listening to them now. Similarly, agri-food businesses, no matter how well prepared they were, are seeing the fruits of their labours spoiled, at […]

Nature on fire in Cornwall

Tom Scott

A fire, started deliberately, has destroyed more than 20 hectares of Rosenannon Downs Nature Reserve in Cornwall On Tuesday night, a fire broke out at Rosenannon Downs Nature Reserve, near Wadebridge in Cornwall. Despite efforts by firefighters from neighbouring towns, it was fanned by strong winds and went on to burn over several hours. The […]