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:
  • 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

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
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, 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, 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.