Saturday, 26 January 2008

Delay in naming PO closures

AN announcement of which West Somerset communities stand to lose their sub-Post Offices under swingeing Government cuts in Royal Mail services has been delayed until late next month.
Public consultation is due to start in February on the proposed closure programme - but as yet nobody outside Post Office Ltd and the Government knows which services are at risk.
The Government has ordered the Post Office to cut its network of offices over the next 18 months by 2,500 nationwide.
However, it still wants to ensure that almost nobody in a rural area such as Exmoor is more than three miles from their nearest Post Office ‘outlet’.
So, it is proposing to replace some rural offices with part-time or mobile postal services to help meet the new standard.
Now, The Post has learned that a six-week consultation on proposed closures locally will not start until ‘towards the end of February’.
And the identities of the threatened Post Offices will not be made public until the actual day the consultation starts.
A Post Office spokesman told The Post: “What happens is that on the first day, in the morning, we will send out a press release which will give a list of the offices proposed for closure and a list of those proposed to close and have an outreach facility put in their place.”
The spokesman said no firm date could be given because the details of the proposals were still being prepared.
He said the process of engaging local councils, MPs, and the Postwatch consumer body in the programme had begun in December.
Campaigners fighting the cuts programme were not optimistic of any success, after hearing that only 10 of the first 230 offices earmarked for closure in other areas had been saved through the consultation process.
But West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger told The Post: “Whatever the announcement is, I will be fighting every single one in conjunction with the postmasters.
“It is not acceptable for an area such as ours, which has enormous rural tracts, to be deprived of services.
“The Government is well aware of my feelings already. I have made it plain to them in letters and meetings. I will continue to fight the issue.”

Friday, 25 January 2008

A39 lorry driver dies in crash with tree

POLICE are appealing for witnesses to help trace a silver coloured 'people carrier' following a fatal road traffic accident which has closed the A39 near Kilve.
Shortly after 9.35am today, Friday, January 25, a green colour box lorry was involved in a collision with a tree between Kilve and Williton.
The male driver of the lorry suffered life threatening injuries and was given basic life support treatment by a police officer before paramedics arrived and took over.
The Devon Air Ambulance then flew the man to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, in Exeter, applying advanced life support techniques to the victim throughout the flight.
However, the man was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital at about 11.15 am.
South Western Ambulance Trust spokeswoman Melodie Juste told The Post: "When our paramedics arrived at the scene they believed the patient was in cardiac arrest and they worked extremely hard and did everything they could to save him, all the way to hospital."
Witnesses reported that soon after the crash, they saw a silver ‘people carrier’ vehicle driving away.
Police do not know if the car was involved in any way in the collision or whether the occupants may have witnessed the incident and they need to trace the car as soon as possible.
Anybody with any information is asked to contact police on 0845 4567000.
The A39 was expected to remain closed until late in the evening.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Rural schools bracing themselves for funding cuts

FUNDING proposals which could see rural schools in West Somerset forced into Victorian-style teaching classes have been approved by Somerset County Council.
Measures to axe the protection currently enjoyed by small schools and some middle schools were adopted as part of a catalogue of changes to the way education is funded in the county.
The Liberal Democrat-run council argued it wanted to make funding ‘fairer’ for all schools across the county.
But the effect of the decisions by the council’s executive board will be to threaten the very future of some of the smallest schools - especially as the authority is already separately reviewing whether to allow schools with fewer than 50 pupils to stay open on their own.
Despite strong representations from schools on Exmoor, including Exford First School, Dulverton Middle School, and All Saints First School, Dulverton, county councillors decided to reduce the minimum two-class funding protection for small schools to one class.
They also reduced the protection for middle schools from nine classes to six.
Now, small schools could be left with just a single class and one teacher for all their pupils, whose ages would range from four to nine years - just as when they were built by the Victorians 150 years ago.
Dr Brian Martin, who is chairman of the Federation of Exford and Dulverton Schools, was one of those to attend the county council meeting to speak in defence of rural education.
His cases was supported by letters from Exmoor National Park Authority, the Exmoor Society, Dulverton Town Council, MPs Ian Liddell-Grainger and Jeremy Browne, the West Somerset Community College, Minehead, and Exmoor’s county council representative Councillor John Edwards.
Dr Martin told The Post: “We did all we could. They listened very sympathetically to the case for small schools in rural areas and there was a lot of positive comment and understanding of how we needed to be treated carefully and not threatened by these changes.
“So, what we have got is a clause which says the board recognises the exceptional circumstances for rural small schools where pupils would otherwise have a long way to travel.”
Although the council said it would give ‘full transitional protection’ to small schools for the next three years, it was not interpreted by the schools as any postponement of the cuts.
Dr Martin said the results of the funding adjustments would not be felt immediately, as the council officers now had to develop the detail of the new funding formula.
The final figures were not expected to be announced until the middle of March, shortly before the new funding regime took effect at the start of April.
Dr Martin said: “So, we will have very little time between seeing the figures and having to cope with the new formula.
“We are continuing to lobby to try to ensure we are high in their consciousness right through to the numbers being crunched.
“We are trying very hard on behalf of the schools. They are successful schools and they have all done well in their Ofsted reviews and we want to grow and maintain them.”
  • Our photograph shows Exford First School, which is one of the small rural schools now under threat. Photo submitted.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Chance to have a say in how to manage global warming threat to coastal areas

RESIDENTS of West Somerset are being invited make their views known on the future of shoreline management.
The district council is looking at devising a plan to manage the risks and help protect more homes and businesses in future.
A consultation on behalf of the North Devon and Somerset Coastal Authorities Group (NDASCAG) is currently being run by the Environment Agency in an area stretching from Hartland Point, in Devon, to Weston-super-Mare, in North Somerset.
It is part of a review of a 10-year-old strategy for managing flooding and erosion along the coast due to be completed in 2010.
The management plan will provide large-scale assessments of flooding and coastal erosion and their associated risks, with options for dealing with the risks posed to people and the environment.
Former chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, Humphrey Temperley, who is now the NDASCAG and also Wessex Regional Flood Defence Committee chairman, said: “The coastline is going to come under increasing pressure over the coming years from sea level rise and increased storms due to climate change.
“We need to plan now for changes in the future. It is important that local people take part in the consultation. This is their chance to have their say.
“Climate change and sea level rise pose significant challenges. The Government spends large amounts of money every year trying to minimise the risk of coastal flooding and erosion.
“Because of the diverse coastline, the same approach cannot be used in all locations and we have to develop approaches that are appropriate to the area at risk.”
The NDASCAG is currently compiling a list of people and organisations which might be interested in being involved with the consultation process.
The aim is to compile a list of these stakeholders and then send out further details to them of the next stage.
For more information and to register as a stakeholder online, people can visit the website
  • Our photograph shows a typical summer scene on Minehead beach. Photo submitted.

Boots offers body mass index machine to help people find their healthy weight

A HEALTHY-Weight Check machine has been installed in the Boots store, in Minehead, as part of a nationwide ‘Know your Figure’ campaign.
The campaign aims to educate people as to how to work out the healthy weight range for their individual height and frame, rather than simply focusing on celebrity ideals, dropping dress sizes, and counting pounds and inches.
The state-of-the-art machine accurately measure Body Mass Index (BMI), body fat percentage, and weight - the new ‘vital statistics’.
Body fat is measured by a method known as ‘bioelectric impedance’, where a low level electrical signal is sent through the body by applying the palms of the hands to sensors in the handles on either side of the machine.
The signal travels more quickly through lean tissue, which contains a high percentage of water, than it does through fat tissue which has a low percentage of water.
The reading obtained is then applied to a scientific formula along with the user’s weight, height, and age, and the body fat percentage is calculated.
Weight is the indication which most people - 53 per cent of them - use to judge whether they are a healthy size, but a third still relied on whether their clothes were too tight.
The Boots campaign is being supported by singer and television presenter Louise Redknapp, who said: “My television experiment showed how dangerous trying to get to size zero can be.
“I have always felt this pressure to be thinner, and it is really important that people realise one size does not fit all and that it is being a healthy weight that counts.”
A spokesman for Boots said: “It was interesting to see that among the figures that British women most admire, the more voluptuous shapes of Kelly Brook and Marilyn Monroe sat higher than Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham.
“What we want to be clear about is that eight-and-a-half, nine or 10 stones might be healthy for one person, but over or under weight for somebody else.
“The key thing is to know your own vital statistics and that is why we are making Healthy Weight-Check machines available across the country.”
Healthy weight management is the focus of Boots’ ‘Change One Thing’ campaign this year, as 70 per cent of people who sign up for the campaign each year are trying to shift excess pounds after Christmas.
Personalised ‘Change One Thing’ action plans and experts are available in Boots stores to help customers achieve a healthy weight, stop smoking, have healthier-looking skin, and live a healthier lifestyle.
People can pick up a free action plan in the Minehead Boots store or log on to for more information and to find an online buddy to help them stick to their plan.
  • Our photograph shows Louise Redknapp. Photo submitted.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Magistrates order Minehead manslaughter charge teenagers to be kept in custody

TWO young men have been kept in custody after appearing in court on charges of the manslaughter of 36-year-old Tim Chilcott, of Minehead.
Nineteen-year-old Shaun Wylds, of Lower Meadow Road, Alcombe, Minehead, and a 16-year-old, of Porlock, whom the law prevents from being identified, appeared before Taunton Deane magistrates sitting in Taunton this afternoon, Tuesday, January 22.
They were accused of killing Mr Chilcott, who suffered serious head injuries in an early-hours attack in Minehead town centre on Sunday and who died in hospital 36 hours later after being on a life-support machine.
Applications by their solicitors for the pair to be freed on bail were refused by the magistrates and they were instead remanded in custody.
Wylds and his co-defendant will now appear in Exeter Crown Court next Tuesday, January 29.
A third man arrested in connection with the killing of Mr Chilcott was released on police bail pending further inquiries before today's court hearing. He is 18-years-old.

Family speak of sorrow and shock at son's killing

THE family of Minehead man Tim Chilcott have expressed their shock and disbelief at his killing in a street fight in the town at the weekend.
Mr Chilcott (pictured), a single man aged 36, suffered severe head injuries when he was attacked in the town centre in the early hours of Sunday, January 20.
He died 36 hours later in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, where he had been on a life support machine.
Three teenagers were arrested by police on suspicion of his murder, but one, aged 18, was given bail pending further inquiries, while the other two, aged 19 and 16 years, were charged instead with his manslaughter.
Mr Chilcott's elderly parents, Fred and Sylvia Chilcott, have now spoken to The Post about their feelings after being told what had happened.
They said the whole family - Tim also had a brother, Kevin, and a sister, Heather - were 'very upset' and could not believe it.
Mrs Chilcott said they were 'just sad and shocked' by the tragedy and unable to fully express their emotions publicly.
She posed the question: "Why?"
Mrs Chilcott said: "Why did this have to happen."
She said the family were at a loss to understand how their Tim could have been killed in such a brutal manner.
One friend who had known Tim Chilcott, a self-employed gardener, for more than 20 years described him as 'a bit of a loner' and not somebody to be involved in any trouble.
The friend said: "He did his work and went and had a pint, that was Tim Chilcott. He was not part of any trouble-making group or anything like that.
"He was just out and had been for a few drinks and was walking home when this happens.
"It is unbelievable that something like this can happen to a nice guy like Tim on our streets."
Police have appealed for witnesses who may have been in and around the Blenheim Road or town centre area shortly after midnight on Sunday.
They especially want to talk to anybody who may have left the Wellington Hotel near the time of the incident or may have spoken to the occupants of a dark coloured, three-door car around Wellington Square shortly afterwards.
Anybody who can help is asked to contact Taunton CID on 0845-4567000 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.
Det Chief Insp Martyn Triggol, who is leading the inquiry has reassured residents that the Mr Chilcott's killing was an isolated incident and that Minehead generally was a safe place in which to live.

Nu-Folk evening with 3 Daft Monkeys

HAVING spent last summer wowing festival crowds across the country, and the previous winter touring the UK and Europe with The Levellers, the 3 Daft Monkeys perform at a ‘Nu-Folk’ night in the Elworthy, Monksilver, and Nettlecombe Community Hall next month.
The band performs self-written material with celtic, Balkan, gipsy, Spanish, and Cornish influences with frenetic fiddling, rhythmical 12-string guitar, dancing bass, and foot drum.
Supporting 3 Daft Monkeys will be Bag of Rats ,who formed three years ago from musicians from across Somerset and Dorset and play a mixture of traditional English, blues, Irish, jazz, and country, together with a smidgeon of ska.
The ‘Nu-Folk’ night has been organised by Under One Sun, whose co-ordinator Jamie Robertson said: “The 3 Daft Monkeys traverse dance, dub, punk, reggae and traditional folk with ease, creating a stunning blend of upbeat, danceable music which despite all its influences remains undeniably British.
“Bag of Rats will be giving a rousing warm-up. Their unique blend of high octane, funked-up folk is guaranteed to blow away the winter blues.”
The 3 Daft Monkeys’ latest release ‘Go Tell The Bees’ is titled after an old Cornish saying meaning that if you have news to share with the world then you go and whisper it to the bees, who will then spread the word far and wide.
The gig takes place on Saturday, February 9, from 8 pm, and tickets cost £10 while stocks last from, Taunton Tourist Information Centre on 01823 336344, Toucan Wholefoods, Minehead, on 01643 706101, or by cheque to Under One Sun, 12 Hill St, Stogumber TA4 3TD.
Further information is available from 01984 656727 and on the website
  • Our photograph shows the 3 Daft Monkeys. Photo submitted.

Second serious A39 three-car crash in fortnight

EMERGENCY services were this morning dealing with a second serious road accident on the A39 outside Minehead in little more than a fortnight.
The three-car crash happened just after 7 am today, Tuesday, January 22, on the Dunster straight near the sawmills works.
The drivers of the three vehicles, which were a Mini Cooper, a Vauxhall Calibra, and a Peugeot 307, were thought to have suffered serious injuries and were trapped in their vehicles.
An ambulance crew was on the scene within three minutes of the alert, followed by a fire and rescue crew from Minehead Fire Station, and they were joined by a second crew from Williton and a rescue tender from Taunton.
The firefighters used cutting gear to remove the roofs and doors of the vehicles to free the trapped casulaties, two women and a man, who were then rushed to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.
Long queues of traffic built up as the A39 was closed for several hours and motorists were diverted at Carhampton onto the Brendon Hills and back through Dunster.
Even children walking along the A39 to school in Minehead were turned back by police because the crash left so much debris lying around.
The clean-up operation was expected to continue well into the late morning with the road remaining closed.
The earlier accident, on January 7, also involved three cars a little further along the Dunster straight and resulted in an elderly woman being cut from her car and flown by air ambulance to hospital with a suspected broken pelvis.

Teenagers face manslaughter charges after Minehead attack man dies

TWO of three teenagers arrested on suspicion of murder after the death of a Minehead man in a street fight at the weekend were appearing in court today, Tuesday, January 22.
Nineteen-year-old Sean Wylds, of Minehead, and a 16-year-old youth who cannot be named because the law protects the identity of those under 18 years, were facing reduced charges of manslaughter as they appeared before magistrates in Taunton.
They had been held in custody at Minehead Police Station since Monday, when 36-year-old Tim Chilcott (pictured) died from injuries he received in the incident.
A third youth, aged 18 years, was also held in custody but was later released on police bail pending furter inquiries.
Mr Chilcott suffered serious head injuries in an attack which was thought to have started outside Minehead's Wellington Hotel and then continued through The Parade and into Blenheim Road, where he collapsed unconscious at about 1 am on Sunday.
He was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, where he was put on a life support machine, but he died at mid-day on Monday.
Mr Chilcott, who was a self-employed gardener, lived in the Periton area of Minehead. His parents live in Hillview Close, Minehead.
A Home Office pathologist was due later today to carry out a post mortem on Mr Chilcott at Southmead Hospital, in Bristol, to determine how he died.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Murdered man was Minehead gardener

THE man murdered in a Minehead street brawl at the weekend was has been revealed as 36-year-old Tim Chilcott (pictured).
Mr Chilcott, who was a self-employed gardener, lived in the Periton area of the town.
His parents, Fred and Sylvia Chiclott, live in Hillview Close, Minehead.
Mr Chilcott, who was single, also had a brother, Kevin, and a sister, Heather.
He is thought to have been stabbed during a fight in the early hours of Sunday, January 20, which started in Wellington Square and continued into The Parade and into Blenheim Road, where he collapsed with serious head injuries.
Mr Chilcott was kept on a life support machine in Musgrove Park Hospital, where he died at about mid-day today (Monday).
Detectives investigating his murder have now arrested three teenagers on suspicion of Mr Chilcott’s murder.
The trio, aged 19, 18, and 16 years, were taken into custody at Minehead Police Station.
An appeal for witnesses who may have been in and around the Blenheim Road or town centre area shortly after midnight on Sunday has been made by the police.
They especially want to talk to anybody who may have left the Wellington Hotel near the time of the incident or may have spoken to the occupants of a dark coloured, three-door car around Wellington Square shortly afterwards.
Anybody who can help is asked to contact Taunton CID on 0845-4567000 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.
Det Chief Insp Martyn Triggol, who is leading the inquiry has reassured residents that the murder was an isolated incident and that Minehead generally was a safe place in which to live.

Help name new cancer centre and win a meal for two

RESIDENTS of West Somerset are being offered an opportunity to name a new cancer centre currently being built at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.
The £20 million centre is scheduled to open in May of next year and will include an 18-bed inpatient ward, 22-chair/bed haematology and chemotherapy day ward, two linear accelerators, a CT simulator, and outpatients facilities.
The new service will employ about 100 staff and it will turn Musgrove into a centre of excellence in Somerset for cancer services.
Patients will no longer have to travel to Bristol or Exeter for their planning and radiotherapy treatment.
Now, the hospital is asking for names for the centre to be suggested by the public and staff.
Musgrove cancer services manager Babette Fuller said: “This new centre is for the whole of Somerset and we want patients, ex-patients, family members, staff, and carers to be involved in deciding on its name.
“We want the chosen name to be short and to suggest hope, healing, compassion, teamwork, quality, and the values that we aspire to at Musgrove.
“We do not think the new centre should be named after any one individual.”
All ideas will be put to a panel of patients, staff, representatives of SURE, and others to make the final decision.
The person proposing the chosen name will win a meal for two in the restaurant of the Castle Hotel, in Taunton.
Any suggestions should be sent either by post to Jo Walker, Ward 9, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, TA1 5 DA or by email to joanna.walker
  • Our photograph shows the cancer centre under construction at Musgrove Park Hospital. Photo submitted.

Teenagers arrested on Minehead murder charges

THREE teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a man in Minehead during a street brawl in the early hours of yesterday, Sunday, January 20.
The trio, aged 19, 18, and 16 years were taken into custody in Minehead Police Station today (pictured).
The man, aged 36, died from his injuries in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, at about mid-day today.
He had been found unconscious at about 1 am on Sunday in Blenheim Road, Minehead, and was believed to have been stabbed during a fight which started in Wellington Square and continued into The Parade and into Blenheim Road, where he collapsed.
He suffered head injuries which resulted in him being put onto a life support machine in hospital.
Police are appealing for any witnesses who may have been in and around the Blenheim Road or The Avenue area of Minehead shortly after midnight on Sunday to come forward.
Det Chief Inspector Martyn Triggol said: “Although we have three people in custody, I am very keen to speak to anybody who may have been in the area or might have come out of the Wellington public house near the time of the incident.
“We are also keen to trace people who may have spoken to the occupants of a dark coloured, three-door car around Wellington Square shortly after the incident.”
Police are also reassuring residents that the murder was an isolated incident and the police need the community’s assistance to help the investigation.
Det Chief Insp Triggol said: “We realise that incidents like this shock what is a tight knit community in Minehead.
“Incidents like this are very rare, but I would appeal for anybody who has any information to help inquiries, however small, to come forward and speak to police.
“Minehead remains a very safe place, but the community can help us best by telling us what they might have witnessed and seen on Sunday morning.”
Anybody who can help is asked to contact Taunton CID on 0845 4567000 or Criemstoppers on 0800 555111.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Women hurt as tumble drier catches alight

TWO women were treated by paramedics for the effects of smoke inhalation after a fire at a house in Minehead during the evening of Sunday, January 20.
They had been in the property in Ash Grove when a tumble drier caught alight and started to fill the house with smoke shortly after 8 pm.
Two fire and rescue crews from Minehead Fire Station attended the incident, along with an ambulance crew.
The firefighters tackled the blaze using two sets of breathing apparatus and one hose reel jet, as well as a positive pressure ventilation fan.
It took more than half-an-hour to bring the incident under control and put out the fire, although damage to the property was restricted to the room containing the tumble drier.
An electrical fault on the tumble drier was thought to have been the cause of the fire.

Murder squad police launch inquiry after Minehead street fight

A SERIOUS crimes inquiry was started in Minehead today, Sunday, January 20, after a man suffered life-threatening injuries in a running street brawl.
The man, aged in his mid-30s, was found at about 1 am in Blenheim Road, near the rear access to the town's hospital, suffering from serious head injuries.
It was thought that he had been stabbed during a fight which started in Wellington Square and which continued as a running battle through The Parade and into Blenheim Road.
The victim was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, in a critical condition, where he remained on a life-support machine.
Police have issued an appeal for witnesses and have asked anybody with information to contact Minehead Police Station on 0845 4567000.
The Parade and Blenheim Road remained sealed off this afternoon while crime scene officers carried out a detailed examination of the area.
Officers were also carrying out house-to-house inquiries in the area and examining film on the town centre CCTV tapes.