Category: Somerset

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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 […]

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 […]