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.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Fire brigade launches phone service to advise on safety

A DEDICATED telephone line to deal with non-urgent community fire safety inquiries in West Somerset has been launched by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
It follows the move of the Taunton area headquarters from Hestercombe House, Cheddon Fitzpaine, to premises in the centre of Taunton.
Fire brigade area commander Dave Robinson said: “Moving area headquarters just after combining with Devon left us with a slight delay in providing a dedicated fire safety line.
“I am happy to say this has now been resolved, and we look forward to providing local community safety advice to the people of West Somerset”.The telephone number is 01823 365365 and incorporates an out-of-hours answer phone service

Church artists produce Christmas cards to help cancer charity

A SET of colourful Christmas cards has been produced to support a charity push by a West Somerset church - thanks to the artistic talents of parishioners, one aged just nine years.
Matthew Legg was the youngest member of Minehead’s Sacred Heart Church whose drawing of a shepherd was chosen to feature on one of the church’s cards.
Matthew, who is an altar server at the Catholic church, said: “I drew the shepherd because Jesus is a shepherd to everybody. And I drew the sheep because a shepherd needs a sheep!”
Manger paintings by Judy Hollier and Jackie Moore feature on the other two cards in the series.
Judy said: “I enjoy painting for fun. I am really pleased that my manger scene has been made into a Christmas card. I hope people will enjoy sending it to friends and family.”
Sacred Heart parish priest, Father Michael Thomas said: “The cards were chosen from a large number of entries submitted by parishioners as part of a little competition.
“Local artists Alex Courage and Glyn Stringer joined me in selecting the designs. It was a tough choice, but it was lovely to see so many fantastic paintings and pictures.
“We were bowled over by the wide range of talent we have in Minehead.”
The parish community was asked to vote on the good cause they would support with the proceeds of the card sales, and they decided on Macmillan Cancer Support.
Father Michael said: “Several parishioners have fought cancer this year and I think this was on our minds when we thought about how we could help people.
“If we sell all our cards, we could raise about £1,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
“We are praying each week for the valuable work of the Macmillan nurses. Leading up to Christmas, we will be giving support to patients in our local hospices.”
The cards are on sale at the Sacred Heart Church, in Townsend Road, at £4 for a set of 10. Minehead Tourist Information Centre, in Friday Street, is also stocking the cards.
Father Michael said: “If people from further afield would like to buy some cards they can give me a call on 01634 702201 or drop me an email at”
The cards have been printed by Friday Print, in Mart Road, Minehead.
  • Our photographs show (top) Father Michael Thomas with artists (left to right) Judy Hollier, Matthew Legg, Jackie Moore; (below) Matthew Legg’s drawing of a shepherd. Photos submitted.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Police to hold beat surgeries in council offices

POLICE in Minehead are setting up informal beat surgeries in West Somerset Council’s Customer Centre, in Summerland Road.
People will be able to drop in for an informal chat about issues which affect them and give their views on how to build better communities.
Inspector Carol Pearce, who is in charge of policing in West Somerset, said: “Overall, West Somerset is one of the safest places in which to live, but we are not complacent.
“Our beat surgeries are designed to actively involve our community to ensure that we are building safe, strong neighbourhoods, and to combat any incidents of crime and disorder.
“We want to know what local people’s priorities are, so we have opened the surgeries to listen to their concerns.
“Officers may be able to provide advice to people on the spot, which will be reassuring for many, but it is also an ideal way to bring broader issues to our attention so that we can tackle them.”
The first of the beat surgeries are scheduled for:

  • December 4 at 10 am and 12 noon

  • December 18 at 10am and 12 noon

  • January 8 at 10 am and 12 noon

District council community safety officer Pete Hughes, who has facilitated the events, said: “This is a good example of how partnership working can help bring accessible services to our public.
“We are determined that acts of crime and disorder remain at their current low levels, and we are keen to involve local people so that we can deal with issues that affect them.”

Government asks WSR chairman to help preserve the nation's rail heritage

WEST Somerset Railway chairman Chris Austin (pictured) has been appointed to the Railway Heritage Committee, which preserves nationally important and historically significant railway records and artefacts.
The three-year appointment was one of six made by the Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and announced by Transport Minister Tom Harris.
Mr Austin said: “The railway has had a profound and beneficial effect on society over almost two centuries, and continues to do so in helping to meet today’s transport needs in a sustainable way.
“So, I am delighted to be appointed to serve on the Railway Heritage Committee, where I can use my railway experience to support the proper conservation of this rich heritage.”
Mr Harris said: “The Railway Heritage Committee continues to ensure that our important railway legacy is not lost to the nation.
“The members’ range of experience and knowledge will enable them to be strong champions of our rail heritage and help drive forward the work and profile of the committee.”
Mr Austin is director of public policy at the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), supporting the railway through closer links between train operators and key stakeholders and strengthening ATOC’s understanding and articulation of rail and transport policy issues at national and regional levels.
He was previously an executive director at the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), where he helped develop the Government’s community rail strategy until 2005.
Mr Austin has more than 40 years of experience of the railways, working at British Rail in a number of key management roles, notably as director of policy and Parliamentary affairs for the British Railways Board.
He was awarded the OBE in January, 2006, for his services to the rail industry, a month after the West Somerset Railway – Britain’s longest preserved line – was awarded Independent Railway of the Year.
The Department for Transport sponsors the Rail Heritage Committee to identify those railway records and railway artefacts of future value to the nation and of general public interest, and for research and scholarship, to ensure they ultimately reside in good condition in appropriate locations.

Project to encourage more cycling in West Somerset

A CYCLE project officer has been appointed to encourage West Somerset residents to do more cycling.
The officer, Rachel Kelly, has been funded by the West Somerset Strategic Partnership (WSSP) with the aim of helping to develop new cycle routes between Minehead and Williton.
Rachel said: “Pedal power will not only give people a healthy transport alternative, it will also help to cut the district’s carbon emissions caused by cars.
“I will be investigating sources of funding, and liaising between local authorities and interested individuals and groups.
“I am already talking to landowners about rights of access, and will be consulting local businesses who may wish to capitalise on the growth of cycle routes to maximise the economic benefits.
“The partnership is hoping it will increase cycle tourism and provide local people with a healthy travel alternative.”
Rachel will be based in West Somerset Council’s Minehead offices and will work closely with Forum 21, the local sustainability organisation which proposed the Cycle West Somerset project.
WSSP chairman Loretta Whetlor said: “We are delighted to have been able to fund this post.
“It will impact positively on many areas that affect us all, from the health and well-being of individuals through to the economic boost to businesses that an increase in cycle tourism will bring.”
Rachel will be giving a presentation at a public meeting being hosted by Forum 21 in Watchet Methodist Hall, at 7.30 pm on November 26, which focuses on local transport issues.
Entry is free and open to everybody.
Anybody who is not able to attend the event but has an interest in the development of cycle routes, can contact Rachel on 07825 016 846 or email
  • Our photograph shows (left to right) WSSP manager Simon Hankinson, WSSP chairmain Loretta Whetlor, and Cycle West Somerset project officer Rachel Kelly. Photo submitted.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Teenagers complete firefighting training course with honours

A GROUP of West Somerset pupils will pass out as honorary firefighters next month 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 throughout the current school term.
The course was run at Martock Fire Station, near Yeovil, and also attended by pupils from Buckler’s Mead School, Yeovil, who will also pass out.
A passing out parade will be held at the fire station on December 3, when the teenagers will be inspected by Assistant Chief Fire Officer Neil Gibbins.
The passing out – equivalent to a graduation day – allows the youths to demonstrate some of the skills they have learned and be presented with certificates in front of family and friends and local dignitaries, who on this occasion will include the Mayor of Yeovil.
Firebreak is aimed at youngsters who ‘do not quite find everything they need in the classroom’.
The 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 Firebreak trainees have learned to use pumps, hoses, and ladders, and - most importantly - they have worked together to help each other through the challenging course.
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 photo shows a group of youngsters training with hoses on an earlier Firebreak scheme. Photo submitted.

Window smashing vandals go on Minehead rampage

VANDALS caused damage estimated at tens of thousands of pounds in Minehead when they went on a window-smashing spree during the night of Friday, November 16-Saturday, November 17.
A total of about 80 windows were broken, including almost 50 in the West Somerset Community College alone.
Other premises to be targets of the vandals included the nearby Aquasplash leisure centre, Minehead Cricket Club, in Bircham Road, the sea front Queens Hall, three public telephone kiosks in Jubilee Gardens, Hedley Price Funeral Directors, in Mart Road, the McDonalds restaurant, in Vulcan Road, and Tom Williams Lawn Mower Centre, in Ponsford Road.
Two iron bars were found near one of the premises
CCTV film of the areas is being studied by police who have also appealed for any witnesses to come forward.
Anybody who may have information should contact PC Jeff Trimmings at Minehead Police Station by telephoning 0845 4567000 or they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, where they do not have to give their name but they could receive a reward.
A fortnight earlier, damage was also caused to three other premises in the town when windows were smashed at Traveline Holidays, in the Summerland car park, and nearby Subway, in The Avenue, and the adjacent Lifestyle Warehouse.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Folk club venue switch for acoustic duo guests

THE Acorn Folk Club, Minehead, is changing its venue as a one-off for its 25th guest night on December 1 and will now use The Ball Room, in the Hobby Horse Inn, instead of the usual Old Ship Aground location.
The guests will be one of the country’s most accomplished acoustic duos, Sarah Deere-Jones on harp and voice, and Phil Williams with guitar, cittern, and small pipes, playing an uplifting blend of Celtic, English traditional, and medieval instrumentals and songs.
Floor spots, musicians, singers, and listeners are all given a warm welcome by the club, which meets monthly.
Tickets for ther guest night are £4 in advance or £5 on the door.
More information is available from Eileen Ann Moore by telephone on 01643 709394 or by email at or by visiting the website

  • Our photograph shows Sarah Deere-Jones and Phil Williams. Photo by

Start on building Children's Centre for Norton Fitzwarren

WORK has begun on a new Children’s Centre for Norton Fitzwarren and the surrounding area which will provide local support and advice for parents and carers of children under-five years of age.
The centre, due to open next spring, will create a single point of access to services for families.
They will be able to obtain information on matters such as child development, parenting, and advice on how to stay safe and healthy.
The new Children’s Centre will also offer support to parents who are considering training and employment, as well as high-quality childcare and pre-school education from 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday.
Somerset County Council has contributed more than £700,000 to create the new centre and has worked closely with a steering group made up of local representatives to ensure the facility will meet local needs and aspirations.
The project has been supported by the Somerset branch of the charity Wooden Spoon, which has given £40,000, including £3,500 raised by sixth form students from Kings of Wessex School in Cheddar.
Steering group chairman Councillor Christopher Wolverson, who is the ward county councillor, said: “I am delighted the hard work and perseverance of Norton Fitzwarren Parish Council, the officers of the county council, and our partners has reached this important milestone in the project.
“I am looking forward to the Children's Centre making a real difference to our community when it opens in mid-2008.”
The development represents the latest step toward the council’s aim of establishing 33 new Children’s Centres in Somerset by March, 2008, which will support parents and families and help ensure children in Somerset are healthy and safe in their early years. Twenty centres have aleady opened and a further13 are in development.
The Mayor of Taunton Deane, Councillor Ken Hayward, who lives in Norton Fitzwarren, said: “It is fantastic that building work has started on this facility, which will be of great benefit to families in our community.
“All three local authorities have worked long and hard in partnership to make this happen, and it is a true credit to all those involved on the team.
“The project has also enabled the parish council to provide a long-awaited children’s playground, which will open next summer alongside the centre.”
The national children’s charity Barnardo’s will manage the Norton Fitzwarren Children’s Centre on behalf of the county council.
Barnardo’s South West children’s services manager Sue Dennis said: “We are delighted to be managing the new Children’s Centre.
“We are really looking forward to working in partnership with the county council and also with the children and families from Norton Fitzwarren and the surrounding communities.”
Childcare and education at the centre will be provided by Sarah Battersby and Deana Hunt.
Sarah said: “We will work together with parents and other professionals to create an exciting learning environment within a nurturing and homely setting, where children can grow and reach their full potential.
“We are excited to be working alongside Barnardos, the county council, and others to offer support for children and young families in and around Norton Fitzwarren.”
Henry W. Pollard and Sons Ltd and Woodcraft Homes Ltd, both local building firms, have been appointed to deliver the construction of the Children’s Centre.
Wooden Spoon is rugby’s charity supporting mentally, physically, and socially disadvantaged children and young people.
It has committed to more than £13 million in spending for projects for children and young people. For more information about the charity, visit

Young soloists delight audience at second concert

A SECOND soloists concert was presented in Alcombe Methodist Church by Jeannette Owen, who selected the performers for their talent and conscientiousness.
During the evening, there was an announcement of successful auditions by Abigail Munson (flute) and Wilfred Owen (clarinet), who had been accepted by the Somerset County Youth Concert Band.
Their audition pieces were performed as part of the programme.
Also included in the concert were ‘Turkey in the Straw’ (trad) by Edita Knight - piano, ‘Tanz des Burgermeisters’ by Holly Pye - clarinet, ‘Georgia on my Mind’ (Carmichael) by Dan Thompson - clarinet, ‘Allegro’ (Mozart) by Sophie Lintern - flute, and ‘The Billiard Sonata’ (Giardini) by Abi Owen - viola.
Pianists Lydia Cunningham-Thole, Tayla-Jayne Healy, and Yolita di Filippo played well, as did Wilf Owen on bassoon with ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’, which everybody foot-tapping.
Abi Owen's solemn opening on saxophone with ‘Marche des Funebre’ (Mozart) held the listeners’ attention, as did her brother Bertie’s trumpet solo ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ (Elgar).
  • Our photograph shows the young musicians, including Ellie Stone, in Minehead’s Alternative Quartet, who played ‘Rondo’ (Boccherini) arranged for two flutes, viola, and bassoon, with teacher and accompanist Jeannette Owen. Photo submitted.

More public consultation on new supermarket for Minehead

A NEW public consultation exercise is to be carried out to again test residents’ views on the future use of Minehead’s Vulcan Road car park (pictured).
The move comes as Independent councillors on West Somerset Council look for justification for backing out of an agreement for a supermarket and other units to be built on the site.
The Independents were elected on the back of a Direct-orchestrated campaign to stop shoppers in West Somerset being given greater choice of supermarket shopping.
Now, despite previous consultation showing people wanted Vulcan Road to include a supermarket - preferably ASDA - councillors have demanded development partner Chelverton Developments Ltd should further research the public’s views on six possible options for the site.
The consultation will be carried out by independent specialists, Consensus, which is owned by former Minehead student Mark Crosby.
Mr Crosby said: “Our task is to provide local stakeholders groups and the wider community with an opportunity to examine each proposal and then record their views.
“The feedback from the consultation will then be collated in a statement of community involvement and submitted to the council for their scrutiny and deliberation.
“It will be for them to determine which option, if any, best meets the future needs of the community.”
The exhibition will be open to the public at the former Ceci fashion shop in The Parade, Minehead, from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, December 1, and from 10 am to 1 pm the following day, Sunday, December 2, and again from 10 am to 5 pm on Friday, December 7, to coincide with the farmers’ market in the town centre.
Four of the options involve Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, or ASDA, each of which also includes an hotel.
A fifth option is for a smaller scheme of mixed retail and employment units.
All of the options contain some affordable housing.
There is also a ‘none of the above’ option.
All options will be displayed with a plan showing how the development would be laid out, together with an indication of the amount of money that each proposal would generate for the council.
Mr Crosby said: “I believe people want to be provided with accurate and straight-forward information about each option in order that they are able to make a properly informed decision.”
Consensus is also meeting with representatives of Direct, Minehead Chamber of Commerce – which is run by ex-Direct chairman Graham Sizer, Minehead Town Council, West Somerset Railway, and the West Somerset Community College.

Witness appeal after A39 'road rage' assault on driver

POLICE have issued an appeal for witnesses after a car driver was assaulted in an apparent case of ‘road rage’ on the A39.
The incident happened shortly after mid-day on Sunday, November 18, when the victim was in his car following another vehicle along the A39 toward Nether Stowey.
A Toyota Land Cruiser then pulled out of a side road, causing the vehicle in front of the victim's car to brake sharply.
The victim also had to brake.
The Toyota later stopped in Castle Street, in Nether Stowey, and the car in front of the victim drove on, while the victim pulled up and an altercation followed between the two drivers.
The argument resulted in the victim being punched several times and he was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, where he received treatment for a facial injury.
A man has been arrested on suspicion of assault and is being questioned by police.
Police believe there may have been a number of people in the Castle Street area at the time, as it is a busy residential street.
People may have witnessed the incident and could have useful information to help the police inquiry.
Anybody with information is asked to contact Bridgwater CID on 0845 456700, or they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where they do not have to give their name and they could receive a reward.
The secure Crimestoppers contact form can also be used at