Saturday, 29 December 2007

Ron receives MBE for services to air force veterans

A WEST Somerset man has received the MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours for his services to the Royal Air Forces Association.
Ron Storey, who lives with his wife Joan in Spring Gardens, Minehead, was the only local resident to receive an honour this year.
Mr Storey (pictured), aged 86, was nominated for his work in fund-raising with RAFA throughout Somerset.
He has supported RAFA for 58 years since joining it in 1949, a year after it was formed.
During the Second World War, he was a wireless operator on bomber aircraft and on one raid he was shot down over France.
However, Flt Sgt Storey managed to evade the Germans with the help of French farmers and the Maquis - French resistance fighters - and returned to England unharmed.
Elsewhere, there was also an MBE for Timothey Dallimore, who is the project co-ordinator of the Somerset Vernacular Building Research Group, which is currently undertaking a three-year study of about 100 houses in Stogursey.
Mr Dallimore received his honour for services to heritage in Somerset.
Somerset’s top fireman, Paul Young - Chief Fire Oficer of the combined Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service - was made a CBE in the honours list for his services to local government.
A Queen’s Fire Service Medal was also given to Robert Fyfe, the brigade’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, for distinguished service.
Mr Young said: “I am pleased and proud to receive this honour. Having spent 34 enjoyable years serving in the fire and rescue service, it is gratifying to be so honoured.
“However, I believe that this honour reflects the good work achieved by the service in general and not just by me personally.”
Mr Fyfe said: “I also am proud to receive this honour and I have no doubt that it is largely due to the support of my colleagues in the service and to them I am eternally grateful.”
Robert Beckley, the Deputy Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police, was awarded a Queen’s Police Medal for his distinguished service.
DCC Beckley is responsible for the day-to-day performance of the constabulary and delivery of strategic change in the force.
His award from the Queen particularly recognises his work with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) race and diversity committee and terrorism and allied matters committee.
He set up and led the National Community Tension Team in its work in respect of community cohesion, public disorder, and the community strand of the national prevention of terrorism strategy.
DCC Beckley also has wide command experience, having been the police commander for the Potters Bar train crash in 2002, leading the national police service response to community tensions and concerns after the 7/7 London bombings, and helping to co-ordinate the response to the Buncefield oil depot fire.
DCC Beckley said: “It is with pride and a sense of achievement that I receive this honour, but it also reflects the professionalism and commitment of many people who have supported my work.”
Chief Constable Colin Port said: “I am absolutely delighted with this honour bestowed upon Rob.
“It is thoroughly deserved as he has made an outstanding contribution to policing for 21 years, demonstrated in particular in his leadership after the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005.”

Monday, 24 December 2007

Grant scheme aids homeowners on low incomes

HOMEOWNERS in West Somerset who need essential home improvements but who are on low incomes and/or benefits are being urged to apply for low-cost loans from a district council-backed scheme.
The scheme’s interest rate is fixed at three per cent, and monthly repayments are low and will not rise for the entire lifetime of the loan.
West Somerset Council’s health and well-being portfolio holder, Councillor Kate Kravis, said: “Homeowners of all ages can borrow up to £15,000 for essential home improvements, and all applications are treated in confidence.
“The cost of borrowing is far less than you will find from high street lenders and I cannot recommend the scheme highly enough.
“Projects we can consider include repairs to leaky roofs, replacing boilers and radiators, installing central heating, replacing rotten windows or doors, and updating bathrooms or kitchens over 20 years old.
“In fact, we will consider any improvements that help local homes meet the decent homes standard.”
Trustworthy, experienced advisers ensure that homeowners receive the right financial package for their circumstances.
Council environmental health manager Ian Timms said: “The adviser will support applicants throughout the whole application process and the council will inspect the work to make sure it has been completed to a good standard.
“We work with the Wessex Reinvestment Trust, who co-ordinate the scheme and remove as much of the worry as possible from applicants.
“We have invested funds to offer people this great opportunity to improve their homes, and we sincerely hope they will make use of it.”
For more information, contact Julie Payne at West Somerset Council on 01643 703704 or log on to the Wessex Home Improvement Loans website at www.wessexrt.co.uk.

New Year 'WISH' from council for warmer homes in 2008

WEST Somerset Council is ‘WISHing’ residents a warm, happy, and healthy New Year by supporting a free scheme to help local people over the age of 60 stay warm and well, and financially independent.
The council is backing Warmer Improved Somerset Homes (WISH), which helps people with the process of applying for grants to improve their homes and ensures any work is undertaken by trusted local traders.
Samples of the work are also inspected by the WISH team to make sure it has been completed to a good standard.
The council’s health and well-being portfolio holder, Councillor Kate Kravis, said: “Homeowners and privately renting tenants over 60 years of age may be able to get help with insulation, heating systems, household repairs, and adaptations to their homes to make their lives easier.
“This is a great scheme and I hope people will use this free, confidential service to find out exactly what they are entitled to, and what help is available.
“All homeowners over the age of 70 are eligible for free cavity wall or loft insulation.
“Our friendly team of specialist advisers can also help with sound advice on benefits.”
People who are not entitled to free help may still find they are eligible for grants, or a substantial discount.
WISH is run jointly by the Bristol and Somerset Energy Efficiency Advice Centre and the Somerset Coast Home Improvement Agency (SCHIP), which is supported by West Somerset Council and Sedgemoor District Council and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
More information is available by calling the WISH team free on 0800 512 012.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Back to the Future for rural schools : Victorian-style classes feared

SCHOOLS built by the Victorians in some of West Somerset’s rural communities could soon be forced to again deliver teaching in Victorian-style classes.
The step back to a teaching style of 150 years ago could be forced on small schools by funding proposals being considered in the New Year.
It could mean schools such as Exford Church of England First School being reduced to a single class where all the children from the ages of four to nine years were taught together by the school’s only teacher.
Similarly, Dulverton Middle and Community School could find its nine classrooms cut to six, with subsequent redundancies among the teaching staff.
Governors of the two schools are fighting the proposed changes to the way in which funding is allocated to schools throughout Somerset.
The county council is due to decide on January 16 on a package of 11 proposals.
One of those who will be attending that meeting to address councillors is the chairman of the governors of the Federation of Exford and Dulverton Schools, Dr Brian Martin.
The federation, which was only formed in April of this year as a result of county council pressure to cut the costs of running small schools, also includes Dulverton All Saints Church of England First School.
Other schools which have federated under recent county council pressure include Cutcombe and Timberscombe First Schools, as well as Danesfield Middle, Williton St Peter’s First, and Old Cleeve First Schools.
A ‘soft governance federation’ was put in place for Minehead Middle, Porlock St Dubricius, Minehead St Michael’s, and Dunster First Schools.
Crowcombe and Stogumber Primary Schools also federated in a separate move.
Nevertheless, the county council has highlighted the fact that the cost of running its small schools is still in the top 100 of the most expensive schools per pupil in the country.
Dr Martin said the new funding proposals were finance-driven and did not take any account of need to bed in recent federations and make them work properly.
He said the council wanted to spread its education cost per pupil more evenly across all schools and one way of doing so would be to reduce the ‘small schools protection’ which currently guaranteed a minimum of two classes for schools with 60 or fewer pupils.
Dr Martin said the moves would leave schools such as Exford ‘vulnerable’ and could even lead to closure.
He said: “We think that this is a step back to Victorian times almost.
“It really does not pay any heed to the ‘Every Child Matters’ policy that has been pushed forward by the Government.
“And ‘individual learning’ just goes out of the window.
“It puts small rural schools in a very vulnerable position.”
Dr Martin said the knock-on effects could see small and middle schools unable to teach the national curriculum to the right standard, meaning pupils would move on to the West Somerset Community College still requiring to be brought up to the right level of education for their age.
There was a further risk that some West Somerset parents might move to another area in order to secure a better education for their children, or that parents would be put off moving to live in the district, thereby causing a fall in pupil numbers and making schools even more vulnerable.
Dr Martin said some pupils as young as four and five years were already making a journey of 40 minutes to reach schools on Exmoor.
If the schools closed, the only alternative would be an even longer journey to a town school.
He said: “It is not like an urban area where you may be able to close a school and still have reasonable travel times to an alternative. There is no alternative on Exmoor.
“We are making a plea that there is an exception in this area for small rural schools which serve their communities.”
Dr Martin appreciated some schools, such as Danesfield Middle, in Williton, might benefit overall from the proposed changes and it was likely that Somerset’s larger schools would support the new funding regime.
But he said: “We would hope they appreciate that they are part of a whole school system here, where we all feed through to the community college and secondary education, and would want strength in the whole system.”
Dr Martin said making teachers redundant in Dulverton Middle School would result in a loss of specialist skills and make it near-impossible to deliver the school’s highly regarded Exmoor Curriculum.
  • Our photograph shows Exford Church of England First School. Photo submitted.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Lottery grant means play facilities for rural children

A £200,000 National Lottery windfall means play areas and mobile rural play facilities can be developed for children in West Somerset.
The district council has secured the cash for its play strategy from the Big Lottery’s Children’s Play Programme.
A similar £208,682 grant went to Taunton Deane Borough Council, while Sedgemoor District Council was awarded £230,000.
West Somerset portfolio holder for children and young people, Councillor Eddie May, said: “We are delighted at the successful bid because of the huge benefits play facilities bring to children’s enjoyment, well-being, and health.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work from officers and partners, and we are really pleased at the positive outcome.
“This money has not been secured for the council, but for our children’s futures.
“With our play strategy, we will be able to encourage and support communities and individuals to improve their quality of life by identifying and providing better opportunities, particularly for children.”
Three projects in the council’s play strategy will benefit from the grant, including the appointment of ‘play rangers’ which will be delivered in partnership with Taunton Deane and Sedgemoor.
The councils will employ a team of play rangers to oversee the development of play facilities.
A second project is the development of Cross Farm Park, in Alcombe, to offer better play facilities for children, which will be delivered in partnership with Minehead Town Council.
Most of the district’s rural areas will also benefit from the boost which will be provided for mobile play facilities.
Leisure, culture, and recreation portfolio holder Councillor Neil Parbrook said: “This is a welcome boost for children’s facilities in the area.
“Play is a vital part of children’s development and this will help provide them with a stimulating environment to grow up in.”
The Lottery grant provides funding for the projects for the next three years.
District council’s community specialist for children, young people, and culture, Janice Malarkey, said: “I am delighted with the result of the Lottery application. We are looking forward to working with the play partnership to successfully deliver these projects, which will greatly benefit children and young people in West Somerset.
“We would like to thank the play partnership, Play England, and Barnardos for their hard work and support during the production of the play strategy, which can be found on the West Somerset Council website.”
Taunton Deane leisure executive Councillor Richard Lees said: “I am delighted that we have obtained this amount of money and in partnership can now plan to provide a play structure for young people.
“Play is so important in creating imaginative minds, and being physically active in a controlled environment, allowing children to be themselves and enjoy their childhood.”
Wiveliscombe, Milverton, and Norton Fitzwarren will all be among the villages to benefit from the project.
For more information on the play partnership in West Somerset, log onto www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk or contact Janice Malarkey on 01984 635238 or email Janice on jmalarkey@westsomerset.gov.uk.

  • Pictured at Cross Farm Park, Alcombe, are (left to right) West Somerset Strategic Partnership chairman Loretta Whetlor, Minehead Town Council clerk Sue Sanders, CLOWNS chairman Jan Ross, district council community specialist for children Janice Malarkey, and leisure portfolio holder Councillor Neil Parbrook. Photo submitted.

  • Mind in Taunton and West Somerset has received a £1,070 grant from the National Lottery’s Awards For All scheme.
    The money will be put toward an IT work area in the Peace of Mind day project, allowing service users access to online resources and word-processing and printing facilities.
    One-to-one training will also be available for those who are less computer literate.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Pupils leave classroom behind to learn firefighting skills

A GROUP of West Somerset pupils have passed out as honorary firefighters after completing a Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service training scheme.
The youngsters, who attend 24/7@PeritonMead School, in Minehead, have been attending the brigade’s Firebreak scheme on one day a week during the past school term.
The course was run at Martock Fire Station, near Yeovil, and also attended by pupils from Buckler’s Mead School, Yeovil, who also passed out.
The trainees were inspected by Assistant Chief Fire Officer Neil Gibbins, and were presented with certificates in front of local dignitaries including the Mayor of Yeovil, Councillor Tony Lock, and family and friends.
The passing out - equivalent to a graduation day - allowed the youths to demonstrate some of the skills they had learned, such as how to use pumps, hoses, and ladders.
The Firebreak trainees also learned how to work together to help each other through the challenging course.
Firebreak is aimed at youngsters who ‘do not quite find everything they need in the classroom’.
Students are issued with uniforms and fire kit and, as with real firefighters, only the highest standards are acceptable.
Although set in a fire service environment, the course provides a varied range of activities designed to promote and improve confidence, teamwork, citizenship, and self-esteem.
The course is suited to young people who have been identified as having an aptitude for practical ‘hands-on’ educational activities and work.
Students have to be carefully selected because the training is physically and mentally demanding.
They follow a code of conduct based on the high standards of self-discipline expected within the fire service.
  • Our photograph shows some of the Firebreak trainees showing off their newly-acquired skills at their passing out. Photo submitted.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Buchanan Cup victory at third time of asking for golf pair

THE final and the consolation of this year’s Buchanan Cup open competition at Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club was the culmination of knock-out rounds held over a period of eight weeks.
Brian Waites, a member of the 1983 European Ryder Cup team, and partner Gordon Whalley, a past Captain of the club, won through to the final to meet Vivary Park Golf Club professional Dave Hawker and his partner Mark Pavey, landlord of the Vivary Arms, in Taunton.
It was the third year in a row that the Minehead pairing had contested the final in this prestigious competition, and the fourth final for Whalley, with victory previously eluding him.
However, after two year’s of settling for the Greens Tankard runner-up spot, they scored a well-deserved victory to finally lift the Buchanan Cup.
It was a tough day for golf, strong easterly winds made it very cold but at least dry.
Waites and Whalley went one up at the first with a birdie from the former Ryder Cup star and then found themselves two up after the third when Whalley won the hole using his shot allowance.
The Vivary pair fought back immediately with Pavey securing a par on the tough par three fourth.
Indeed, it was like that for much of the front nine, with only two holes being halved and all players contributing to the match.
At the turn, it was the Minehead pair who still held a two-hole lead.
The back nine began with the Vivary pair taking the 10th hole with a par.
One up remained the score until the 13th, when the hole was won by Waites with a birdie three.
Two up to the Minehead pair lasted just one hole as Pavey took the 14th with a birdie two of his own.
The match was levelled again on the 16th when Hawker chipped in brilliantly from off the green to secure a birdie for the Vivary pair.
All square with two holes to play, it took nerves of steel and more magic from Waites, who played a magnificent approach shot to the 17th which stopped close to the hole.
The putt was conceded for another birdie three to leave the Minehead pair requiring only a half on the par three 18th to secure the cup for the first time.
The Minehead pair teed-off first with Whalley’s ball ending up to the left of the green and Waites on the front of it.
The Vivary pair played next with one falling way short of the green and the other well off to the right, fortunately missing the unplayable sand dune.
The first of the Vivary pair made his approach shot to the green leaving the ball well away from the hole.
Whalley was next to play onto the green and his shot ended well short leaving a not-so-certain par put.
The second Vivary player played a chip and run again leaving an uncertain par put.
It was left again to Waites, who, with his steady and assured style, rolled the ball perfectly to the edge of the hole.
With no chance of a win, the Vivary pair graciously conceded and the victory went to Waits and Whalley.
The match was played in an excellent spirit and on the day the Minehead pair had the better of the luck.
They were never down in the match and perhaps third time lucky was the order of the day for them.
Their better ball score was a four under 67.
During his acceptance speech, an emotional Gordon Whalley thanked his opponents for a great match and paid tribute to the superb condition of the course, a sentiment echoed by all the competitors on the day.
The third and fourth play-off was won by K. Cridge and M. Newman, from Vivary Park, who beat N. Grabham and D. Hill.
Twenty-two pairs competed in the Consolation and the result was: 1st: K Babb & W Brown (42 points) on the back nine from 2nd: J Fisher & A Hardick (42 points), 3rd: D Neale & R Neale (40 points). Report by Gerry Mason.

  • Our photographs show TOP - Buchanan Cup winners Gordon Walley (left) and Brian Waites (right) receiving the trophy from club Captain Denis Compton; BELOW - club Captain Denis Compton (centre) with losing finalists and winners of the Greens Tankard, Dave Hawker and Mark Pavey. Photos submitted.

Christmas shoebox gifts bring joy to needy children

GIFT-filled shoeboxes given by people in West Somerset are among a total of 230,000 from across the county which are being sent for Christmas to needy children in Eastern European and African countries.
Operation Christmas Child is this year helping children in countries such as Belarus, Bosnia, Romania, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Liberia, Mozambique, and Swaziland.
The appeal is one of the main annual projects run by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid charity.
Volunteers collected the shoeboxes at drop-off points across the South West before they were checked and packed for transportation at warehouses prior to shipment to their final destinations.
Founded in 1990, Operation Christmas Child is now one of the UK’s largest annual charity programmes.
Regional manager Roger Fenton said the charity wanted to say an official ‘thank you’ to everybody in West Somerset who had helped make this year’s appeal such a success.
Mr Fenton said: “We have been extremely pleased with how the campaign has gone this year and we have been overwhelmed by the number of people from West Somerset who have participated.
"It is a massive operation, but it all comes down to one simple act of kindness - filling a shoebox with gifts for a child who has little at Christmas.
“We have collected over 1.25 million boxes nationally this year, which means there are many needy children who will see that there is somebody who is thinking of them this Christmas.
“The impact that a shoebox containing some simple gifts has upon a child with nothing - and their family - cannot be over emphasised.
“Many experience challenges most of us would find hard to imagine, and the toys and other gifts brighten difficult lives, particularly at this time of year.
“The thought that goes into each shoebox is special, because it is one person choosing gifts for a child who is living a very different life from that which we enjoy in this country.
“These are gifts from somebody in Britain direct to a child who greatly appreciates what he or she receives.”

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Faulty tumble drier sparks early morning blaze

AN electrical fault in a tumble drier is believed to have caused an early morning fire which broke out in a house in Langley Marsh, near Wiveliscombe.
The blaze happened in a utility area of the property at about 5 am on Monday, December 17.
Two fire engines were called to the incident from the Wiveliscombe and Wellington stations and firefighters used breathing apparatus to enter the house and find the source of the blaze.
The fire was then extinguished using one hose reel jet.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Firefighters cut woman free from ditch crash car

A WOMAN passenger had to be freed by firefighters when she became trapped in a car which left the B3188 road in Tolland, near Wiveliscombe, and plunged into a six feet deep ditch and became lodged in an upright position.
Fire crews from Wiveliscombe and Taunton were called to the scene by an ambulance crew shortly before 3.30 pm on Sunday afternoon, December 16.
They initially began to to cut out the car’s windscreen with hydraulic equipment, but the woman was eventually freed through the driver's door of the vehicle.
The woman was taken to hospital by paramedics, while the car driver, who was unhurt, remained at the scene with police officers.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Golf club celebrates achievements at annual awards presentation evening

THE achievements of Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club members were celebrated at the annual trophy presentation evening.
The day began traditionally with the playing of the Massey Poyntz Cup, although this year, while the course remained open, the competition was cancelled due to the appalling weather and was rescheduled for tomorrow (Sunday, December 23).
The presentation evening saw 86 trophies given out to members, with highlights including the Avalon League division seven winners cup going to the victorious club side.
Champion of the Ladies game was Charlotte Ross, who not only won the Ladies Club Championship Hosegood Trophy but also the Clanville Bowl and Wimbush Cup.
In the Club section, John Fisher won the Club Championship with the best gross score over 36 holes.
He also won the Ridler Trophy for the best nett score in the same competition, the Dawson Thomas, and President's Trophy with partner Tony Hardick.
The most successful golfers during the season were Nancy Marshall, who collected four individual and two pairs trophies, Nigel Grabham. who collected one individual and four pairs trophies, and Keith Babb, who collected five individual trophies.
Six new trophies were played for this season.
In the Senior's section, the Dixie's Bogey, a trophy presented by member Ken Sims and named after his dog which regularly accompanied him on his round of golf, was won by Peter Heddercott, who, coincidently, also had his dog with him from time to time.
Club steward Graham Walsh donated the Stewards Challenge Trophy and this was won by Allan Burton and Clive Gurr.
In the Club section, four new trophies were presented for the first time.
The President's Trophy, given by club president Ben Gliddon, was won by John Fisher and Tony Hardick.
Another 'new' trophy was the Artisan Cup, originally presented to the club in 1959 on the disbandment of the Artisans - a group of about 40 who were not full members and who used to arrive at the club by playing their way across the beach, subject to the tide being out.
The trophy was found and reintroduced by club Captain Denis Compton as a 36-hole competition played in one day, and it was won by Andy Atkins.
The Freddie Burton Bowmaker Salver was given to the club by Mrs Burton to be played for in the memory of her husband Freddie, who died this year. Freddie was one of the club's characters and is sadly missed. The winners were Steve Gay, Adrian Ryan, and David Ryan.
The final new trophy to be awarded was the Fagg Cup, donated by the HH Fagg Golf Society. 'The Faggs' are a group of golfers from the Windsor and Ascott area who have visited Minehead each June for the past 30 years.
The new cup is therefore played for during the first week of June. This year, it was won by Steve Plenty.
The winners of Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club trophies competed for throughout the year were:
Seniors Section: Porlock Cup - R Rufus, Burgess Trophy - R Swallow, Barrett Cup - R Swallow, Marshall Cup - G Walsh, Metcalfe Cup - T Pope & R Ireland, New Century Cup - J Fulwell & P Heddercott, Charles Eaves Tankard - R Rufus, Dexter Neville Salver - R brown, Captain's Shield - G Jones, J Perkins & J Fulwell, The Roy Bishop - G Walsh, Trafalgar Tankard -G Jones & N Parsons, Steward's Challenge Trophy - A Burton & C Gurr, Dixie's Bogey - P Heddercott.
Junior Section: Norman Green Trophy - A Dover, Frances Adams Trophy - M Stent, The Brian Lewis - C Knight, George Hampshire Trophy - D Ryan, The Henry Dibble - T Heard, Ridler Trophy - S Stent, Somerwest World - C Knight, Junior Championship - W Knight.
Ladies Section: Hosegood Trophy (Club Championship) - C Ross, Junior Bowl - A Oglesby, Wimbush Cup - C Ross, Wimbush Bowl - N Marshall, Cromer Cup - S Hill, Berger Cup - J Stanlake, Poyntz Cup - N Marshall, Phillips Cup - P Hole & I Swinburn, Floyd Cup - R Chidgey, Dunster Bowl - S Bartlett, Leukaemic Trophy - M Gliddon, Coronation Cup - N Marshall, Powell Cup - S Bartlett, Ladies Luttrell Cup - N Marshall, Clanville Bowl - C Ross, Michaelmas Bowl - S Hill, Winter Matchplay Trophy - J Stanlake, Lorna Sparkes Trophy - G Bowyer, Centenary Trophy - L Davis, Bronze Cup - R Chidgey, Vets' Trophy - M Foot, Clover Cup - S Rigg, Captain's Salver - A Oglesby.
Club Section: Club Championship - J Fisher, Ridler Trophy - J Fisher, Captain's Winter Four Ball Better Ball - T Hardick & J Murphy, The Ray Boddy - K Babb, Day Dewdney Foursomes - N Grabham & C Knight, Martell Cup - G Latham, Spring Cup - P Collins, Brown Cup - R Holland, Grant Cup - T Bowden, Scorpion Cup - B McCaffrey & D Stevens, Elizabethan Cup - M Rutley & S Salter, St Audries Cup - S Clarke & D Oatridge, Centenary Trophy - A Whiting, Centenary Tankard - M Vickery, Billy Wynn Foursomes - P Truscott & A Whiting, Weston Cup - N Marshall & N Grabham, Alcombe Cup - J Murphy, Simplicity Box - C Sidley-Adams, Roy Sparkes Trophy - N Grabham & D Oatridge, Bushen Cup - G Yeates, Tipper Trophy - N Marshall & N Grabham, Bon Cup - C Sidley-Adams, D Hillier & M Vickery, Hayman Rabbit - D Day, Tarr Cup - K Babb, Clarke Cup - N Grabham, Harry Gould Trophy - B Jones, Tony Pendray Trophy - J A'Court & D Ryan, Todd Cup - P Davies, Millennium Trophy - Tom McGann, The Dawson Thomas - J Fisher, Weacombe Bowl - M Vickery, Luttrell Cup (Both Sections) K Babb, Scratch Knockout - K Babb, Eclectic Cup - K Murrell, Gold Star - K Babb, Best Nett - G Yeates, Atrizans Cup - A Atkins, Fagg Cup - S Plenty, President's Trophy - J Fisher & T Hardick, Freddie Burton Bowmaker - S Gay, A Ryan & D Ryan.

  • OUR photographs show: TOP - Trophy winners at Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club line up at the annual presentation evening (left to right): Back row - G Yeates, A Whiting, M Vickery, B Jones, D Hillier and P Collins. Middle - P Salter, R Holland, A Atkins, P Davies, J Fisher, A Hardick, B McCaffrey, D Stevens and K Murrell. Front - G Latham, D Ryan, J A'Court, J Holland (Ladies Captain), D Compton (Club Captain) N Marshall, N Grabham, S Clarke and K Murrell.
    MIDDLE - Ladies section winners (left to right) with Club Captain D Compton: Back row - P Hole, I Swinburn, A Oglesby, M Foot, S Hill. Front - J Stanlake, C Ross, J Holland (Lady Captain), N Marshall, M Gliddon.
    BOTTOM - Junior section winners (left to right) with Club Captain D Compton (front, centre): Back row - W Knight, D Ryan, T Heard, A Dover. Front - M Stent and S Stent. All photos by John York.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Students help police express crime reduction message

SIXTH form students of the West Somerset Community College, Minehead, have been working with police to help find ways to put across crime reduction messages to the local community.
It was part of the teenagers’ public services course as they looked at ways of solving problems such as reducing theft from sports changing rooms.
Their ideas included crime prevention pop-ups on school computers, new crime reduction posters, and better lockers.
The course also involved working with West Somerset Council and the West Somerset Crime Prevention Panel.
Minehead Police crime prevention officer PC Charlie Fitzpatrick, who organised the initiative, said: “The council, ourselves, and the crime prevention panel were very impressed with the level of work carried out by the students.
“They were given a real problem to research and solve and their ideas were innovative and positive.
“The school has seen a small number of thefts from changing rooms, but we are hopeful the number will be reduced following the students’ ideas and the crime reduction advice we have been able to give them.
“I am hoping this will be a regular part of the public services course and that in future we can give them some other local issues to look at.”
Council community safety officer Pete Hughes said: “These projects are an excellent example of young people taking ownership of an issue that affects them and other users of the sports facilities.
“Their breadth of thought to identify ways of stopping these thefts is to be commended.”
One student, Emma Taylor, said: “The project was a fun and interesting. It is amazing to think that we as a group have come up with something to reduce the crime.”
Another of the students, Emily Ketchen, said: “The project enabled us to work closely with the local police on a subject that directly affects us as a college and we hope our ideas can be taken forward and put into action, benefiting the community as a whole.”
  • Our photograph shows Minehead Police Inspector Carol Pearce (front, centre) and PC Charlie Fitzpatrick, with council community safety officer Pete Hughes (front, second from left), college principal Nick Swann (front, right) and some of the staff and students involved in the course. Photo submitted.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

An extra five years for Hinkley B while wait goes on for Hinkley C

HINKLEY Point B nuclear power station is to be given an extra five years’ of life with part of a £90 million investment by owners British Energy.
The news comes hard on the heels of the company’s announcement that the site had been earmarked for a new build Hinkley C station.
The twin advanced gas-cooled reactors in the B station were due to be decommissioned in 2011, but now they will continue generating electricity at least until 2016.
Hinkley B is currently running at reduced capacity due to boiler repairs following a closure earlier this year.
British Energy said it had completed the necessary technical and economic evaluation for the station, one of West Somerset’s largest employers, to continue operating beyond 2011.
Station director Nigel Cann said: “This is great news for all of us at Hinkley Point B and for everybody in the local Somerset community.
“The decision means we can continue to provide highly skilled jobs and bring major investment to the area.
“It also shows that British Energy recognises the professionalism and commitment of our staff in safely supplying low carbon electricity for more than 30 years.”
The station employs around 535 full-time staff, as well as 150 full-time staff from contract partners, and puts an estimated £30 million a year into the local economy.
Hinkley B has produced some 215 terrawatt hours (TWh) of generation since first supplying the National Grid in 1976.
During its working life so far, the station has saved around 140 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
To achieve the same annual carbon-avoided benefit would require the entire population of Bristol to reduce their carbon emissions to zero.
Hinkley trades union representative Tom Armstrong said staff were delighted with the news.
Mr Armstrong said: “This life extension is a major bonus for the station.
“It is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work by everybody involved, both on and off site, to secure a further five years of safe, reliable generation - an achievement of which we are all very proud.”
British Energy chief executive Bill Coley said the extension of Hinkley B’s operating lifespan would help combat global warming by supporting the UK’s climate change goals for the reduction of CO2 emissions.
The Government is expected to announce next month if it will give the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear reactors to be built in Britain.
  • Our photograph shows Hinkley Point B (right) with the neighbouring Hinkley Point A station which is currently being decommissioned. Photo submitted.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Man trapped on Exmoor in overturned vehicle for two hours

FIREFIGHTERS from Dulverton helped to rescue a man who was trapped for two hours when his Land Rover overturned late at night on Exmoor.
The accident happened in Wellshead Lane, Exford, at around 10 pm on Saturday, December 8, but the fire crews were not called until a few minutes after midnight on Sunday.
A rescue tender from Taunton Fire Station was also sent to the scene.
The fire crews used heavy lifting air bags and hydraulic rams to free the mans legs and release him from the vehicle.
They also helped paramedics place the patient on a spinal board before he was flown by air ambulance to hospital for treatment.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Town forgets to celebrate Sir Arthur's 90th birthday

SIR Arthur C. Clarke (pictured), the most famous person to have been raised in Minehead, is due to celebrate his 90th birthday on Sunday, December 16.
But in his home town, the anniversary will pass almost unnoticed as there are no plans for any public occasion.
However, after The Post alerted the Mayor of Minehead, Councillor David Hawkes, the town council could send a civic greetings card to Sir Arthur and possibly link up with him via a webcam chat.
Councillor Hawkes said he would liaise with Air Arthur’s brother, Fred Clarke, who lives in Bishops Lydeard, to see what could be arranged.
He told The Post: “I know of Sir Arthur and the plaque on his house, but I did not know it was his birthday.
“Nobody has suggested doing anything, so I suppose it shows there is not a lot of interest at the moment.
“But I am always open to ideas and it would be nice if we could do something, and it would be good for the town as a whole.”
West Somerset Council spokeswoman Stacey Beaumont told The Post when asked if the district council planned to do anything to mark Sir Arthur’s birthday: “We have no plans.”
Fred Clarke told The Post that the only celebrations of which he was aware were being organised by Sir Arthur’s staff in Columbo, Sri Lanka, where he lives.
Mr Clarke said: “I spoke to him a few days ago. He is keeping pretty well.
“He is now in a wheelchair completely but seems to be quite happy and cheerful.
“I spoke to his staff and they are laying on celebrations over there.
“It would have been nice for something to be done in Minehead as well. He has great affection for Minehead.”
Sir Arthur, probably best known for his groundbreaking novel 2001 A Space Odyssey, later made into a Hollywood film by director Stanley Kubrick, was born in Blenheim Road, Minehead, and went to school at what is now the Richard Huish College, in Taunton.
He has lived in Sri Lanka since 1956 and has only occasionally returned to Minehead, once, in 1992, to have the Freedom of the Town bestowed on him ‘in recognition of his distinguished services to science and the arts’.
Sir Arthur was knighted in 1998, but the honour was not bestowed on him until 2000 due to a row over a national newspaper allegation against him which was later shown to be unfounded.
He is credited with inventing the idea of satellite telecommunications, writing a private paper on it in 1945, and two decades later he saw his vision turned into reality with the advent of satellites in geostationary orbits.
The International Astronomical Union has named the geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometres above the equator The Clarke Orbit in tribute to Sir Arthur.
The learning resource centre in Richard Huish College has been named in honour of Sir Arthur, who also has an asteroid and a species of dinosaur discovered in Australia named after him.
NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter, which is looking for evidence of past or present water and volcanic activity to help answer the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars, is also named in honour of Sir Arthur’s work.
Fred Clarke is currently setting up a group to encourage budding young inventors.
It will be called the Pip Youngman Group after the late Taunton inventor, who worked with young people aged from 13 to 24 years.
Mr Clarke said: “It is for youngsters who have ideas which we will encourage them to develop.
“We will check out an idea to see if anybody has done it before, and do drawings and models to try to see if we can get somebody to take it up.”
Mr Clarke said he was inspired by what had happened to Sir Arthur, whose communications satellite invention was not taken up by anybody in England and so was eventually given to an American.
“Now, we spend millions every year on satellite communications which we pay to the Americans,” he said.
“I do not want to see that happen to any more of our young inventors.”

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Exmoor 'big bridge' players help raise cancer care funds


MORE than £1,000 has been raised for Somerset Cancer Care from a ‘Big Bridge’ event recently held on Exmoor.
The charity is a division of St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice and provides information, support, and free stress-reducing complementary therapies to anybody affected by cancer - patients and their families and carers.
The charity’s Exmoor committee organised a bridge and lunch event in Winsford where the draw alone raised £239, and the total sent to the charity was £1038.20.
Sixteen tables of bridge players filled the village hall and everybody enjoyed a hearty lunch as well.
Among the organisers were volunteers Joan Bidie, Jane Lewis, Jenny Williams, and Cathy Nicholls, and non-volunteers Joan Cooper, Sue Ashburner, Brenda Coates, Anne Phillips, Rosie Strickland, and Alice Windsor Clive.
Money was also raised for St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice through the sale of its Christmas cards.
Committee member Cathy Nicholls said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who organised the ‘Big Bridge’ event.
“It was a fantastic day and the hard work of everybody involved really shone through.”
  • Our photograph shows Dave Williams (left) and Peter Nicholls preparing refreshments for the ‘Big Bridge’ fund-raising afternoon. Photo submitted.

Grants available to put empty homes back into housing market

RESIDENTS in West Somerset are being asked to keep an eye open for any homes which appear not to be lived in.
West Somerset Council has dedicated December to encouraging people to report homes which have been empty for six months or more.
The council can help owners bring such properties back into use so they can be leased to local people.
The council’s housing portfolio holder, Councillor Peter Humber, said: “West Somerset has a real shortage of affordable homes to rent and we have grants available to help bring houses onto the market.
“We have recently brought one home back into use and a further eight have schedules of work planned, but we have the capacity to bring more back into use with local people’s help.
“Sometimes, homes are inherited and have new owners who are not in the area, or they have fallen into disrepair because owners either do not have the interest or money to bring them up to a decent standard.
“Owners of redundant commercial buildings can also be helped where there is potential to convert buildings into dwellings for local people.”
The council is offering grants of up to £10,000 to bring empty homes up to the Government’s decent homes standard.
It can also help owners lease properties to people nominated from housing waiting lists or to sell them to local housing associations so they can be let.
Grants of up to £5,000 are available to owner-occupiers who cannot currently live in homes because they do not meet the decent homes standard.
Council environmental health manager Ian Timms said: “If the public knows of empty houses in their area, they can contact the council in confidence and we will track down the owners and do our best to get the house back into use.
“Even derelict properties can be returned to use, so we would encourage anybody who knows of an empty property to contact us.”
Grants are not available for second homes which may stand empty for many months.
Anybody who wants to report an empty home in West Somerset should call 01643 703704, or email customerservices@westsomerset.gov.uk.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Two women rescued from Exmoor farm machinery

AN air ambulance rushed an Exmoor woman to hospital early on Sunday, December 2, after firefighters freed her from beneath a farm vehicle.
The unnamed woman became trapped under a four-wheel drive Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle (example pictured) on a farm near Dulverton at about 8.30 am.
Another woman who tried to release her also became trapped and had to be rescued by the fire and rescue crew from Dulverton.
It took more than half-an-hour for the firemen to stabilise the vehicle and release both women, the first of whom was then put on board the waiting helicopter to be flown to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, in Exeter.
Paramedics on board a road ambulance also attended the scene.
  • Fire and rescue crews also attended three Exmoor properties which were experiencing flooding overnight on Saturday-Sunday in the Exford and Bridgetown area, near Dulverton.
    Crews from Dulverton and Porlock were called out and they used light portable pumps to remove water and also helped to clear up with mops and buckets.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Carers receive certificates after completing free St John programme

CERTIFICATES have been presented to people who completed the latest carer support training programme at the Minehead divisional headquarters of St John Ambulance, which finished on Thursday, November 29.
The carer support programme is run in association with Somerset County Council and is offered free across the county at various St John Ambulance venues.
It provides an opportunity for carers to gain more skills and knowledge to help in a caring role and also to meet other people and share experiences and advice.
St John carer development manager Jude Glide said: “It is so good to see the number of carers who are taking advantage of this free training growing from course to course and hearing of the many benefits they are getting from the sessions.
“One of the issues that keeps coming up is that of ‘isolation’, and one of the key elements of the courses is bringing carers together to share similar problems and issues.
“Many groups have been set up as a result of the programme and are meeting on a monthly basis.
“These good people are not alone, and St John is proud to be helping them.”
For information on dates and venues call Jude Glide on 01823 345920 or visit the website: http://www.somerset.sja.org.uk/.
  • Our photograph shows Jude Glide (second from left) with some of those who attended the course and received their certificates. Photo submitted.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Judge overturns first Exmoor hunting conviction

THE first huntsman to be prosecuted under the Hunting Act, Tony Wright, of the Exmoor Foxhounds, has had his conviction overturned on appeal.
Mr Wright, aged 53, had been found guilty in August of last year by magistrates sitting in Barnstaple of breaching section one of the Act while leading the foxhounds at Drybridge, in Devon.
The prosecution was brought by the League Against Cruel Sports, which said a hunt on April 29, 2005, allowed the hounds a ‘prolonged period of pursuit’ of a fox on two occasions.
Under the Act, all that is lawful is the exercising of hounds, chasing a scent trail, and flushing out foxes to be shot.
Mr Wright, of Exmoor Kennels, Simonsbath, was fined £500 by the magistrates and ordered to pay £250 costs.
But now, at an appeal heard in Exeter Crown Court on Friday, November 30, the conviction has been quashed.
Judge Graham Cottle allowed the appeal and said he was satisfied Mr Wright reasonably believed he had put in place safeguards which he thought would ensure compliance with the Act.
The Exmoor is one of only two fox hunts to have been prosecuted successfully.
More people have been convicted of hunting rats under the Act than have been found guilty of illegal fox hunting.
Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart said: “This verdict is an absolute vindication of Tony Wright and the Exmoor Foxhounds and another nail in the coffin of the Hunting Act.
“While we celebrate this judgment, however, we must not forget why an innocent man faced with a vindictive private prosecution has had to spend over two years and two court cases to clear his name.
“The Hunting Act is not only a pointless and prejudiced piece of legislation, it is also a very bad law.
“If the courts cannot be sure what is hunting and what is not, how on earth can anybody else.
“Only by scrapping the Act can we ensure that other innocent people will not be persecuted and today’s result adds to the clear case for its repeal.”
The case has cost the League more than £100,000 to pursue, after Avon and Somerset Police refused to prosecute based on the available evidence.
Mr Wright was ‘delighted’ with the appeal result and said afterwards the Hunting Act was a ‘very difficult law to interpret’ and ‘probably not very well written for people like myself to understand’.
For the League, Mike Hobday, head of its prosecution unit, said: “We shall be taking urgent legal advice about the prospects of appealing on some of the findings of law.”
Mr Hobday described the appeal result as ‘deeply surprising’ and said he was ‘shocked and disappointed’ at the legal interpretation of the Hunting Act.
  • Our photograph shows an image from a video of an Exmoor Foxhounds hunt used by the League in its prosecution. Photo submitted.

Readers asked to help police trace man in connection with Porlock burglary

POLICE are asking for help from readers of The Post in a bid to catch a burglar who struck in Porlock.
The burglary happened at a public house in the village almost six months ago, on June 30.
In connection with the inquiry, police are trying to trace a white man whom they think may be able to help with their investigation into the burglary.
The crime happened between 5.30 pm and 10 pm, and bank cards were stolen and subsequently used at various locations in the UK, whereby several hundreds of pounds were withdrawn.
The man police want to trace is pictured here, wearing glasses and a white shirt.
Anybody with any information regarding this case should contact Crimestoppers immediately by telephoning 0800 555 111. They do not have to leave a name, but they could receive a reward.
Alternatively, they can use the secure Crimestoppers contact form available at https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/crimestoppers/ContactForm.aspx.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Winsford woman takes to stage to celebrate three-star award for adult care services

AN Exmoor woman will be centre stage tonight (Thursday, November 29) as a star-studded celebratory showcase takes place to recognise the latest three-star rating of the county’s adult social care services.
Three stars is the top rating given by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and means the services have been judged to be ‘excellent’.
The celebratory event is being staged at the Brewhouse Theatre, in Taunton, with many people taking part from across Somerset, including Becky Hayes, who lives in Winsford.
All the participants will have taken part in artistic endeavours within the service, helping it to receive the highest possible rating for a fourth consecutive year.
Becky, aged 23, has been involved in the Moves Afoot dance project which takes place in Minehead’s Seahorse day centre for adults with learning disabilities.
The project is run by Arts Exchange, which is funded by Somerset County Council and the Arts Council, providing activities in dance, music, and storytelling for adults with learning disabilities.
For the past year, dance artist Oliver Ellis has been working with service users on Friday afternoons, supported by Seahorse staff.
Becky has been one of the keenest participants, and Seahorse Centre deputy team leader Helen Chave said: “Becky communicates in a very particular way and we know when she is happy.
“We knew that she enjoyed the dance session and has developed a really good relationship with Oliver.
“All the group have benefited and the project has given them the confidence to express themselves creatively using the ideas and skills brought to us by Oliver.”
The Brewhouse Theatre evening will feature a screening of the award-winning comedy horror film about food hygiene ‘Germ Academy’, created by and starring people with learning disabilities.
Cast members will be on hand to discuss their roles, as will those involved in the service’s latest film production, ‘Shape Up’.
Also on hand will be people who have become community ‘storytellers’ with the help of an innovative project run by The Unlimited Company, based within the community team for adults with learning difficulties in Mendip.
The CSCI rating will contribute to the Audit Commission’s next comprehensive performance assessment of the way the county council works and delivers services.
This year’s test was even harder than previous years, with extra emphasis placed on delivering demonstrable positive outcomes for the community.
Among areas rated as ‘excellent’ in the report were leadership, use of resources, maintaining personal dignity and respect, increased choice and control, improving quality of life, and improving health and emotional well-being.
The county’s community director, Miriam Maddison, said: “To receive a three-star rating is a welcome endorsement of all the work the council does in this area, but this event is all about celebrating the achievements of people we help.
“As a service, it is important that we are not content to just support and care for people.
“It is about making a positive contribution to peoples’ lives, helping them achieve great things and this event is celebrating just that.”
Council portfolio holder for adult and community services, Councillor Justin Robinson, said: “We have forged excellent working partnerships with volunteers, partner agencies, and carers across the county, allowing us to deliver excellent services at the local level to people across Somerset.”
  • Our photograph shows Becky Hayes training with dance instructor Oliver Ellis at the Seahorse Centre. Photo submitted.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Faulty fan blamed for early morning Butlins fire

A FAULT in an electrical extractor fan has been found to be the cause of a fire which broke out in the early hours of Monday, November 26, at the Butlins holiday centre, in Minehead.
Fire investigators determined the blaze, which damaged six chalets and a large area of roofing, was started accidentally.
The fire happened at about 5.40 am and there were initial reports that people may have been trapped in the chalets, which turned out to be incorrect.
Fire and rescue crews from Minehead, Porlock, Williton, Wiveliscombe, and Taunton all attended the scene.

Witness appeal after spate of car crashes leaves one driver critically ill

A SERIES of car crashes across two days on West Somerset roads left a total of six people trapped in wreckage.
The most serious incident occurred at about 6.20 pm on Tuesday, November 27, when a Citroen Saxo and a Mini One travelling in opposite directions collided on the A396 between Dunster and Timberscombe, close to Kittswell Farm.
Police closed the road until 12.30 am on Wednesday, November 28.
Both car drivers were trapped in the wreckage and had to be released by fire and rescue crews using hydraulic cutting gear, a process which took more than an hour.
The driver of the Citroen, a man, suffered serious head injuries and was taken to Derriford Hospital, in Plymouth, where his condition was described as ‘critical’.
The Citroen had been travelling from the Tiverton direction toward Dunster and Mini was being driven from Dunster toward Timberscombe when the accident happened.
Two fire crews from Minehead and a rescue tender from Taunton attended the incident.
Police later appealed for any witnesses to the collision, or anybody else with information about it, to contact the force’s collision investigation unit on 0845 4567000.
Or they could call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where they do not have to give a name but could receive a reward.
The secure Crimestoppers contact form could also be used, which can be found on the internet at https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/crimestoppers/ContactForm.aspx.
Another serious incident occurred later on Tuesday, when a vehicle careered off the A39 and into a field between Williton and West Quantoxhead.
A man and a woman were trapped in the wreckage and it took fire and rescue crews working with hydraulic cutting equipment nearly two-and-a-half hours to free the pair.
Both casualties then had to be individually carried on boards in a fire service Land Rover across a field to waiting ambulances before they could be taken to hospital.
Two fire engines from Williton and a rescue tender from Taunton attended the scene of the accident, which happened a few minutes before midnight.
No other vehicle was involved in the crash.
Previously, on Monday, November 26, two people were reported trapped in a crash between two vehicles on the A39 at Carhampton.
It happened at almost 6.30 pm but when rescue services arrived on the scene the two casualties had already been freed from the damaged vehicles.
One fire engine from the Minehead station and a rescue tender from Taunton attended the incident and the crews made both vehicles safe and assisted police with lighting and removing debris from the road.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Endangered lemur finds new Exmoor friend after cancer claims mate

CUDDLES, an endangered lemur in the care of West Somerset animal centre Tropiquaria, has found a new companion after losing her mate to liver cancer.
Staff at the Washford Cross tourism attraction spent weeks searching around the world for another lemur after Cuddles’ mate died.
Then, they found another black and white ruffed lemur almost on their doorstep – on the other side of Exmoor at Combe Martin Wildlife Park.
Now, Cuddles is being kept company by Fifi, who has moved from North Devon to live at Tropiquaria.
Senior keeper Claire Wright said: “While this species is very social, we were a little bit worried about introducing them to each other.
“In fact, within three days they were the best of friends and were eating from the same bowl.”
Black and white ruffed lemurs originate in Madagascar and the species is now listed as endangered, largely through habitat destruction.
Usually, the overall objective of keeping members of endangered species together would be to breed them and return their offspring to the wild, so it could be considered unusual for two females to be kept together.
However, Tropiquaria managing director Chris Moiser said: “Populations of endangered animals are usually managed on a national or international basis.
“This means that decisions are made on the numbers of animals that it is necessary to keep in captivity, if and when to pair them up, and, ultimately, to reintroduce them to the wild.
“Decisions are also made on which animals have the best genetic pedigrees, and therefore should be used to create the future stocks.
“This may involve animals being moved from one end of Europe to the other.
“At present our ‘girls’ are some way down that list, so they are unlikely to be involved in long-distance romances.
“We are, though, very pleased to have them here as they are very sweet and friendly animals.”
For the winter season, Tropiquaria is open from 11 am to 4 pm at weekends only, although it is available during the week for exclusive party bookings.
Further information about opening hours is on the website http://www.tropiquaria.co.uk/, or can be obtained by calling 01984 640688.
  • Our photograph shows Fifi and Cuddles getting to know each other in their pen at Tropiquaria. Photo submitted.

Hinkley C on the cards after nuclear firm names West Somerset on new build list

A NEW nuclear power station is now almost certain to be built at Hinkley Point – and there could even be two or more new stations as Britain moves to adopt energy sources which will not add to global warming.
British Energy, which owns the Hinkley Point B station, announced on Tuesday, November 27, the West Somerset site was listed as one of eight locations across England and Scotland which could house the country’s next generation of nuclear plants.
It follows a review of every site owned by the company to determine if they could withstand the effects of global warming.
There had been concern that coastal sites such as Hinkley Point could be under threat from rising sea levels and increasingly heavy rainfall.
Research by engineering consultants Halcrow showed flood defence and coast protection measures could be deployed on all sites to make replacement build a feasible option.
Halcrow said the work needed to secure Hinkley Point would involve an extension to the existing constructed cliff protection measures in order to prevent erosion, and the new power station structures should be set back from the cliff line.
It did not predict any flood risks for the elevated site.
Halcrow’s report said: “Relying solely on current engineering methods and knowledge, the sites can be made robust against climate change impacts for the expected lifetimes of the replacement stations.”
Access to the National Grid was likely to be an important constraining factor in selecting sites.
But British Energy said it had already entered into agreements with National Grid for each of the key sites it owns in the South of England, including Hinkley, for grid access in the period from 2016 onwards.
Chief executive Bill Coley said: “Our existing sites all have potential for replacement nuclear, and, indeed we have suitable land at all locations.
“But it is about much more than land. We are building the foundations for replacement nuclear by continuing and strengthening our excellent relationships and dialogue with local communities.
“Our skilled and experienced staff also live locally and provide a healthy flow of skills and talent into the business.
“Our good relationships with our regulators and experience in UK regulation are also key factors, and we continue to work closely with the full range of nuclear industry regulators to meet some of the most stringent standards in the global nuclear industry.”
The Government is expected to decide on the future of nuclear power early in 2008 and if, as expected, the decision is ‘positive’, British Energy will carry out a strategic assessment of siting during the year.
Studies to assess the different locations would vary, but would include examinations of flora and fauna, fisheries and other marine ecology, landscape, geology, noise, and air quality.
Mr Coley said the firm would continue to invest prudently to maintain its sites as strong candidates for replacement builds and ensure any development could proceed as quickly and efficiently as possible if the Government made a positive decision.
Paul Spence, British Energy’s head of strategy and business development, said the company would be in extensive dialogue with local stakeholders and statutory consultees as it developed its proposals and identified the scope of future studies.
Mr Spence said Hinkley Point B had an active local community group which met regularly and was briefed on all topics of interest, including a possible replacement nuclear plant.
British Energy said it remained ‘flexible’ about how its sites would be developed and on the choice of reactor design.
Experts believe any new generation of nuclear power stations are likely to be designs bought in from foreign countries which have continued with nuclear builds, such as Japan.
It is also thought that the capital costs involved would mean new builds would only be viable if at least two plants were constructed at the same time.
For Hinkley Point, that would mean building twin C and D stations.
  • Hinkley B has been running at reduced power after being off-line earlier this year to repair cracks found in its boilers.
  • The neighbouring Hinkley Point A nuclear power station was shut down in May, 2000, and is currently being decommissioned by Magnox Electric Ltd. Halcrow has designed an Intermediate Level Waste Store on the site which will be used to hold intermediate level waste arising from the operation and decommissioning of the station.

  • Our photo shows Hinkley Point B. Photo by Robin Somes.

Emergency services to reconstruct car smash to teach students a graphic lesson

A GRAPHIC demonstration of the effects of poor driving is to be given to students in West Somerset as part of a road safety campaign by the emergency services.
It will involve a full reconstruction of a road traffic collision to be staged for sixth form students at the West Somerset Community College, Minehead.
The event will show exactly what happens to the occupants of a vehicle after it has been involved in a serious accident.
Ambulance, police, and firefighters will show what they do when rescuing casualties from a crashed car.
Jon Martin, of the Somerset Road Safety Partnership, who has been a fireman for 24 years, said: “Many of the students watching will be turning 17 and about to start learning to drive, so just maybe this will slow them down and make them think.
“The college has been very supportive and is keen to make it an annual event. Teachers are even designing lessons and question papers around the day.”
The demonstration takes place on Thursday, December 6, and will also include presentations by representatives from the road safety partnership, a driving simulator, and questions and answers.
The emergency services will also be highlighting their annual Christmas drink-drive message.
The national campaign will aim to convince all drivers, with a particular focus on young male drivers aged between 17 and 29 years, that a drink-drive conviction has the potential to ruin their life, by highlighting a mixture of the legal and personal consequences.
These include:
  • being caught and breathalysed by the police
  • a minimum12-month driving ban
  • a criminal record
  • a hefty fine
  • lifestyle changes (ie, potential loss of job, relationships, or car)

Monday, 26 November 2007

Museum to benefit from television's Time Team book auction

THE stars of Channel 4’s Time Team have pledged their support for the Museum of Somerset fund-raising appeal by donating for auction a signed copy of their book ‘Archaeology Is Rubbish’ (pictured, left).
Co-written by Tony Robinson and Professor Mick Aston, the book guides the reader through an imaginary archaeological excavation, and provides answers to frequently asked questions such as what to do if you come across human bones or find buried treasure in your back garden.
The book is to be sold on eBay by the Friends of Somerset County Museum, a charity established to help raise funds for the museum.
It will be available to bid on from December 1 until December 11, and the money from the winning bid will be added to the £80,000 already raised toward the £250,000 fund-raising target.
The book can be found by typing ‘Book Signed by Mick Aston, Tony Robinson and Time Team’ into eBay’s search facility.
It coincides with the news that people can now donate online to the Museum of Somerset appeal by visiting www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/culturecommunity/museums, where they can also find out all the latest news about the Museum of Somerset project.
Professor Aston (pictured, right) said: “I have always fully-supported the bid to create the Museum of Somerset.
“By donating this book, we hope to raise another little bit towards the appeal.
“Every single penny counts, and, as we said when we launched the appeal, if everybody in Somerset gave 50p, we would reach the fund-raising target.”
County council portfolio holder for adult and community services, Councillor Justin Robinson, said: “The council is committed to conserving the history of the county and providing opportunities for people to learn about their heritage.
“We believe that this will be best achieved through the creation of the Museum of Somerset, and over 10,000 people have publicly backed our plans.
“We are very grateful to Time Team for donating this fantastic book, which would make a unique Christmas gift for somebody to treasure.”
The Museum of Somerset fund-raising campaign was launched earlier this year and aims to raise £250,000 toward the total £6.5 million cost of the project.
All single donations in excess of £500 will be permanently acknowledged in the museum by way of a commemorative display.

A taste of Bollywood coming to Porlock

EXCITING and energetic Punjabi folk dancing is coming to Porlock in December.
Nachda Sansaar (pictured), a traditional Bhangra folk and Bollywood-style dance group, will put on the lively and colourful afternoon show in the village hall on December 8.
There will be an opportunity for villagers to join in the dancing during the second-half of the afternoon, which starts at 4 pm.
Children will be especially welcome, with the under-eights free with an adult ticket.
This very different experience is being brought to West Somerset by Take Art Live.
Tickets are available from Porlock Visitor Centre by calling 01643 863150.

Investigation after early hours blaze in Butlins chalets

AN investigation is underway into the cause of a fire which broke out in Butlins holiday centre, in Minehead, in the early hours of Monday, November 26.
Firefighters rushed to the centre after initial reports indicated that people might be trapped by the blaze.
The alarm was sounded shortly after 5.30 am when the fire was spotted in a block of chalets.
The roof of the building was alight when the fire crews reached the scene, but they were quickly able to determine that nobody was inside the 150 yards long by 100 yards wide block.
Eight of the chalets were damaged by heat and fire, with three of them heavily smoke logged.
Two fire crews attended from Minehead and others from Porlock and Williton, as well as a command support unit from Wiveliscombe and an incident support unit from Taunton.
They used four breathing apparatus and two hose reel jets to tackle the blaze, which is thought may have been started by an electrical fault.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Firefighters rescue boy trapped in bedroom

FIREMEN were called to a house in Minehead to rescue a young boy who was trapped in the bedroom of his home.
The incident in King Edward Road happened shortly after 10 am on Sunday, November 25, when the parents of a five-year-old boy realised he had accidentally become locked inside his bedroom.
A fire crew from the Minehead station responded and they were able to enter the bedroom of the house through a window and release the youngster unharmed.
Photo is illustrative only and not intended to portray the actual property involved.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

New route to attract more entries for Golden Horseshoe endurance ride

THERE will be a new look to the route of the annual Wessex Golden Horseshoe endurance ride on Exmoor next year.
Riders will be able to take in the Doone Valley, Cheriton Ridge, and the tough uphill haul at Robbers Bridge.
Organising committee chairman Barbara Wigley, who lives near Wheddon Cross, said: “Parts of this new route have not been used for the Golden Horseshoe for some years and we think it will attract new riders as well as our regulars.”
The venue has again been moved from the Auction Field, at Exford, to a larger and more open and easily accessible site 400 yards away at the top of Church Hill.
Mrs Wigley said the new site was well-drained and had excellent views of the start and finish of the course.
She said changes were needed to raise the event’s profile in as many ways possible, to attract sponsorship and public involvement on a wider scale.
Local businesses had been approached to take trade stands, including country crafts, confectionary, toiletries (equine and human), and endurance equipment.
The ride has also received a grant from Exmoor National Park Authority’s sustainable development fund.
There are four competitive classes – The Exmoor Golden Horseshoe, The Exmoor Stag, The Exmoor Experience, and The Exmoor Eighty.
In addition, a ‘Pleasure Ride’ will again be held on the Sunday morning to raise money for the Moorland Mousie Trust.
More than £1,000 was raised for the trust from this year’s ride.
A group of Exmoor ponies from the Exmoor Pony Centre, near Dulverton, will take part in the pleasure ride, and there will be a stand at the venue with information about the work carried out for the rare breed.
The 2008 Golden Horseshoe ride will take place from May 11 to 13.

Police wear white ribbons to highlight domestic violence awareness week

VICTIMS of domestic violence are being urged to have the courage to come forward and report the abuse during a week-long campaign to highlight the improved support on offer as part of the regional Domestic Violence Awareness Week.
Across Somerset, more domestic violence offenders are being brought to justice thanks to the launch of specialist courts which increase the conviction rate, multi-agency risk assessment conferences to protect high-risk victims, and independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs) to offer ongoing one-on-one support.
Last year, there were more than 14,500 recorded domestic violence incidents in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary area, of which 19 per cent of victims were male and 81 per cent were female.
Police Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Roberts, who is in charge of the force's response to domestic violence, said: “Our officers attend more than 180 domestic violence incidents a week.
“We do everything in our power to encourage these victims to accept the support we and our partners can offer and work with us to ensure the person subjecting them to violence or emotional abuse is brought to justice.
“Anybody can experience domestic violence, and it can happen in all kinds of relationships regardless of social group, class, age, race, or sexuality.
“The violence can take many forms from physical assault and sexual abuse to psychological abuse such as threats and criticism, or financial abuse.
“We know that there are many more women and men suffering at the hands of abusive partners or relatives who, for whatever reason, do not feel they can come forward.
“Our plea to them is to have the courage to take that first step, either by contacting the police direct, or seeking the advice and support of one of our partner agencies, and trust us to help them turn their lives around.”
To mark the week, police officers throughout the force will be wearing a white ribbon (pictured) to promote awareness of domestic violence and encourage people never to commit, condone, or remain silent about the crime.
ACC Roberts said: “While still supporting the victims of domestic violence 100 per cent, we are now much more focused on investigating the offence and getting the offenders charged and held to account for their actions.
“Positive action, taken early on, can save endless suffering and abuse and I believe in some cases can prevent what may otherwise lead to domestic murders.”
Avon and Somerset Police now has three specialist domestic violence courts located in Bridgwater, Yeovil, and South Gloucestershire.
The first, launched in Bridgwater in 2005, has already seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of offenders convicted, while the number of cases collapsing has reduced by half.
The specialist courts focus on bringing trials to a successful conclusion through providing a less traumatic experience for victims.
The magistrates and staff are trained especially to deal with domestic violence cases and the courts have separate entrances for victims and offenders and are policed by uniformed officers to increase victims’ feelings of safety.
IDVAs are now in the Somerset West police district, which takes in West Somerset, Taunton Deane, and Sedgemoor, as well as other parts of the force area.
They are totally independent, specialist professionals who work closely with victims to keep them and their families safe.
They offer professional advice on all aspects of victims’ lives, from safety planning and housing or benefits arrangements, to child protection issues and guidance on the criminal justice system.
The work of IDVAs nationally has been shown to decrease victimisation, increase notification of children at risk, and increase the number of victims willing to support a prosecution.
ACC Roberts said: “There is such a wide range of expert support out there to help victims with every aspect of their lives.
“We need victims to be aware of this so they have the confidence and courage to come forward so we can work together to end the suffering they and their families endure.”
Next May will also see the launch of Somerset’s first sexual assault referral centre, which will be located in Bristol.
The centre is designed to improve the willingness of victims to report incidents of sexual assault and rape, and the number of offenders caught and convicted, by combining skills and competence through the support of experts ranging from medical staff and police officers to counsellors.
Events and activities are taking place across Somerset during Domestic Abuse Awareness Week, organised by district domestic abuse forums.
In West Somerset, parish councils are being sent posters and leaflets to put on display to promote the week. For more information call 01984 635115.
In Sedgemoor, information displays will be mounted around the district, including Bridgwater Library and Bridgwater Arts Centre, by the Sedgemoor Survivors Group, The Daffodils, and the Safer Sedgemoor Partnership.
On Tuesday, November 27, supporters will release balloons acknowledging the victims of domestic abuse.
The public can show their support by joining them in Angel Place, Bridgwater, and at Bridgwater College. For more information call 01278 435216.
In Taunton Deane, an information stand will be at the ASDA supermarket all week and staffed between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm on the Tuesday, offering advice and literature. For more information call 01823 352247.
A 24-hour, free-of-charge national domestic violence helpline is available on 0808 2000 247. The national Men’s Advice Line is 0808 801 0327.

First outreach service for mental health support starts in Dulverton

AN outreach service to help people access healthy lifestyles and choices of mental health support is being started in Dulverton.
The first session takes place in Dulverton Town Hall from 12 noon to 2 pm on Thursday, November 29, and will continue weekly thereafter.
It is part of the West Somerset Inclusion Project, run by Mind in Taunton and West Somerset, which is encouraging people to participate in and connect with their local communities.
Mind TWS, which is based in Minehead, is dedicated to providing specialised services for older people living in West Somerset who may be experiencing mental ill health or emotional distress through loneliness, bereavement, or isolation.
The Minehead office is a drop-in centre anybody who needs support and advice, and Dulverton is the first outreach service to be established.
Mind staff will attend the outreach service to offer information and advice on all issues of mental and emotional health, and to listen to what people in the area say they want.
Inclusion project manager Deborah Melmoth said: “In Somerset, one-in-three people suffers psychological distress at any one time, compared to one-in-seven nationally, but there is a great variation in the provision of health and social care services to people living in rural areas, such as Dulverton.
“Overall, they are less likely to receive services comparable to that which is offered in towns.
“Our work is therefore important because we campaign for the rights of people who experience mental or emotional distress to be treated with respect, to be given access to services and opportunities in the community, and to have control over the care and treatment they receive, wherever they live.”
Future services could also include drop-in support groups, and a small team to work with people on a one-to-one basis to help them rebuild confidence, self-esteem, and motivation.
Workshops to raise awareness of mental health issues are also under consideration for the wider community.
Mind TWS has won Big Lottery funding to run the inclusion project in West Somerset for five years.
A telephone advice service is also available on 01643 708765.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Sending Christmas greetings to colleagues and helping hospice at same time

A NOVEL way has been launched by St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice for people to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to others without having to write lots of cards.
The ‘Easy Christmas Card’ poster allows people to send season’s greetings on the poster and then make a donation to the charity for the time and money saved.
The hospice hopes the idea will take off with businesses, schools, colleges, and social clubs across Somerset.
The posters have been sponsored by Recruitment South West, which is Somerset’s leading independent recruitment agency.
St Margaret’s corporate fund-raiser Teresa Wort said: “Christmas is a busy time of year so the ‘Easy Christmas Card’ is an ideal way to send season’s greetings while saving time and the planet, and supporting the biggest local charity in Somerset.”
Recruitment South West managing director Caroline Drew said: “It is an ideal way for work colleagues to display their greetings and also have the pleasure of knowing that their donations will be going to an organisation that really touches the local community.”
The cost of running St Margaret’s Hospice and its services is currently £6 million a year, only 20 per cent of whuch is funded by the NHS, with the remainder generated through fund-raising.
Anybody who would like one of the A2 size ‘Easy Christmas Card’ posters should call the hospice’s fund-raising office on 0845 345 9671.
  • Our photograph shows (left to right) Lucy Wiltshire, Charlotte Donohoe and Rachel Williams, from Recruitment South West, with Teresa Wort, of St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice, at a Somerset Chamber of Commerce business networking dinner. Photo submitted.

Pay and display crime reduction advice in council car parks

IMPORTANT crime reduction and road safety advice will be just the ticket for Christmas shoppers in West Somerset.
Police have linked up with West Somerset Council and the Somerset West Crime Prevention Panel to put crime reduction and road safety messages on car parking tickets across the district.
People will be reminded not to leave their vehicles vulnerable to opportunist thieves after using any of the council’s parking ticket machines.
Minehead crime reduction officer, PC Charlie Fitzpatrick, said: “The tickets will remind people to keep valuables out of view and keep their homes secure.
“There will also be messages encouraging people to report suspicious activity and stick to speed limits so that highways are safer for all road users.
“Although crime in West Somerset remains low, we are committed to making our communities safer by using messages like this.
“The tickets will have four messages and will be around for the next year.
“Anything we can do to reduce crime and promote the positive actions of residents can only assist in keeping West Somerset one of the safest places to live.”
Council community safety officer Peter Hughes said: “We are happy to support initiatives such as these because it is easy to forget the simple measures that can protect your vehicle when you are caught up in the excitement of seasonal shopping.
“The fact that the messages will be displayed beyond Christmas is great because they will be positive reminders to people to remain vigilant.”
Council parking services manager Mike Lewis said: “The council has been happy to help provide people with a reminder to look after their belongings and to keep their vehicles as safe as possible.
“We are comparatively lucky because we do not experience a lot of problems, but prevention is better than cure.
“We hope this will help people remember some very sound advice from our local police.”
Crime prevention panel chairman John Lees said: “We are delighted to support this initiative. We hope that the timely reminder will help deter potential crime which can only be good news for our community.”

Family asleep during blaze as smoke detectors lack batteries

FOUR people were lucky to escape with their lives after becoming trapped in a flat above an Indian restaurant in Minehead when a blaze broke out in the early hours of Friday, November 23.
Although the premises in The Avenue were fitted with smoke detectors, they did not work because they did not have any batteries in them
Firemen who arrived on the scene shortly before 5 am were initially unable to wake the occupants of the flat.
However, they were eventually roused and firefighters using breathing apparatus led the four people to safety without any serious injuries.
An electrical fault was blamed for setting fire to a canopy at the front of the restaurant building, almost one-third of which was damaged by the heat. The canopy was almost completely destroyed.
Both fire engines from the Minehead station were mobilised, and because of the danger to the lives of the four people, a further fire engine was called from Porlock and a command support unit from Wiveliscombe.
The fire was contained to the restaurant frontage and was extinguished using two hose reel jets.