Saturday, 2 February 2008

Town motorists braced for railway turntable return

A LONG-awaited locomotive turntable will be delivered to the West Somerset Railway, in Minehead, next weekend.
It is due to reach the Minehead station on Sunday, February 10, and highways authorities have warned of traffic delays on the A39 while it is transported.
The turntable forms part of a controversial £6 million Somerset County Council industrial development alongside the railway station.
It should reach the town by 10.30 am after an early-morning journey which has been timed to minimise disruption on the roads. Installation is due to start the following day.
As preparatory work for the installation continues, historical evidence of the former Minehead locomotive shed and the people who worked there has been emerging from the diggings.
WSR general manager Paul Conibeare said: “We will not be rivalling ‘Time Team’ for the range or excitement of the discoveries, but the diggers have been turning up a range of artefacts from the shed site, which was closed and demolished in the 1960s.
“As expected, engineering bricks and items of track work have featured, but the biggest engineering relic is the original central mounting pin on which the former turntable was mounted.
“A new pin will carry the replacement turntable but we will preserve the original for future visitors to see.
“On a smaller scale we have found plenty of evidence of the former locomotive staff and other lost bits of Exmoor, including a beer bottle from the long-closed Arnold and Hancocks, in Wiveliscombe, a milk bottle from D Dansie, of Minehead, and another bottle about which we would like to know more.
“It is a half-pint one and stamped into the glass is ‘Bray Valley Clapworthy’ and we would be curious to know what it held and who produced the contents.
“Once the work is complete, we plan to have a display case on the station to house these small items from the past of Minehead and Exmoor.”
  • Our photographs show (top) a bottle being uncovered on the turntable site, and (below) the former turntable central mounting pin. Photos submitted.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Exmoor access forum wants new members

SEVEN people with an interest in countryside activities are wanted as new recruits to the Exmoor Local Access Forum.
The forum advises a range of bodies in relation to the improvement of public access to land within Exmoor National Park, for open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area and ‘for any lawful purpose’.
During the past year, the forum has been actively reaching out to Exmoor’s local communities to identify and understand their access requirements.
Members have met at a number of locations around the national park to enable wider debate and discussion on a variety of issues ranging from the status of public rights of way to access to rivers for canoeing.
Forum chairman Jeremy Holton said: “This time around we are particularly looking for anybody who has an interest in cycling, conservation, outdoor sports, and activities, or is a landowner.
“If you think you fit the bill and would like to help Exmoor, we would be pleased to hear from you.”
Anybody interested in joining the Exmoor Local Access Forum or finding out more information should contact the secretary, Martin Palmer, by email at or telephone 01398 322218.
An application form can be downloaded via or is available from Mr Palmer.

Hospital cuts waiting lists to 18 weeks

WAITING times for appointments at Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton, have significantly reduced - a year ahead of target.
The latest figures show that at the end of December, more than 90 per cent of all patients waited less than 18 weeks from when they were referred by their GP to when their treatment started.
This time included all the necessary steps in a patient’s journey before treatment could be started, such as diagnostic or other tests.
It was an improvement from November, 2006, when fewer than half of all patients were treated within 18 weeks.The hospital’s director of operations, Jon Scott, said: “This is a fantastic achievement.
“We have met the target of reducing waiting a year ahead of schedule.
“Our staff have done extremely well to look at everything they do to reduce unnecessary steps and ensure that different departments and teams work closely together.
“We have introduced more ‘one stop shops’ for patients so they do not have to make a second visit for a test, and we have redesigned services to better meet patients’ need.”
One recent patient in Musgrove’s orthopaedic department, Sheila Rogers, said: “I was brought in incredibly quickly, and in fact the whole thing was no more than about 12 weeks from start to finish.
“As my operation was so minor - a cyst on my toe - I expected to wait for ages, but in fact they offered me an appointment before I was expecting it.
“I was also really impressed that when I went in for my pre-op they gave me a full health MOT.
“People do worry about waiting for hospital treatment and it is great that waiting times at Musgrove Park are now so low.”
Project leader Ian Bramley said: “Achieving 18 weeks is great for the hospital and our patients, but this is only one step towards a system at Musgrove with no delays and no waits.”

Home of the Exmoor Beast lures big cat conference delegates

A THREE-day conference on the phenomenon of big cat sightings in the wild is to be held next month in West Somerset – home to the famous ‘Beast of Exmoor’.
‘Experts’ and others interested in the subject will be attending from all over the country to discuss the increasing number of big cat eyewitness accounts.
The event, hosted by Washford animal centre Tropiquaria, is the second annual conference of the Big Cats in Britain group and takes place on Friday to Sunday, March 7 to 9.
Tropiquaria owner Chris Moiser will hold a public debate and a press conference on the Friday which will be an opportunity for local people to discuss their experiences, ask questions, and decide whether they should attend the full conference.
The weekend will include a ‘big cat hotspot tour’ arranged by Exmoor Big Cat Research Group members Anthony Bevan and Christopher Johnston, who have studied reports in the area for many years.
They will give delegates a greater insight into what has been seen in the area over the years.
The ‘Exmoor Beast’ was first reported in the 1970s, following a spate of sheep killings, and in the years since then there have been ‘sightings’ of big cats all over the country.
Big Cats in Britain receives an average of three sightings a day and claims ‘people are more likely to see a big cat rather than a pig’.
There were 37 reports of big cats last year and the group wants to hear from anybody who believes they may have seen a big cat in West Somerset.
People are being invited to submit photographic and physical evidence to the conference.
BCIB organiser Mark Fraser (pictured, with a revack cat skin) said: “There is so much interest in big cat sightings now, and this will be a chance for people to hear from experts, as well as the many people who have actually seen them with their own eyes.
“We are especially interested in hard evidence such as photographs, casts, etc. Complete anonymity will be given to witnesses.
“Everybody is welcome to attend the conference and it should be a weekend to remember.”
An award will also be made to the person BCIB feels has worked the hardest in the interests of British big cat research, whether or not they are a member of the group.
For more information on the conference, visit or call Mark Fraser on 07940 016972.

Car driver trapped in ditch after Exmoor crash

A WOMAN was freed from an overturned car on an Exmoor road last night, Thursday, January 31, and taken to Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton.
She became trapped shortly after 7 pm when the car she was driving near Luxborough left the road and hit a tree before coming to rest on its side in a ditch.
No other vehicle was involved in the accident.
Fire and rescue crews from Williton and Minehead attended the scene, together with a rescue tender from Taunton.
They stabilised the vehicle to help with the release of the woman motorist after more than half-an-hour, and she was then taken to hospital by ambulance.
The extent of her injuries was not known.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Working together can save West Somerset environment - and the £ in your pocket

WEST Somerset residents can make a difference to their environment by working together – that is the message emerging from a climate change strategy being drafted by the district’s local strategic partnership.
Loretta Whetlor, chairman of the West Somerset Strategic Partnership, which commissioned the strategy, said the draft document also showed climate change was hitting residents’ pockets as hard as it was affecting the environment.
Mrs Whetlor said: “Because climate change is such a big issue, some people think they do not have the power to influence it.
“Our strategy shows that by working together, we can make a very real difference to the environment locally and our pockets.”
The strategy’s hard-hitting facts about West Somerset reveal:
  • Installing insulation into 5,500 electrically heated homes would save the local economy at least £3.5 million and reduce CO2 emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year
  • Currently, grid-imported electricity costs the district’s domestic sector an estimated £11 million a year
  • Moving five per cent of households to wood fuel would prevent £300,000 leaving the district’s economy
  • If 10 per cent of diesel transport switched to biodiesel, expenditure would be reduced by £1.4 million

The draft strategy showed climate change was happening - and happening now.
West Somerset should expect milder, wetter winters, while sea levels were predicted to rise.
By reducing CO2 emissions, West Somerset’s reliance on fossil fuel energy would also be reduced.
The draft climate change strategy, entitled ‘Developing a Low Carbon Economy’, explains the issues and suggests ways in which people can reduce CO2 emissions.
West Somerset Council’s economic development and tourism portfolio holder, Councillor Michael Downes, said: “Rising energy prices and climate change affect everybody.
“More than £60 million is spent on energy in West Somerset every year, and all this money leaves the local economy.
“We need to encourage cleaner, greener businesses, and help develop and promote eco-friendly tourism options
“Every person living in West Somerset can do their bit to help.
“By making relatively easy lifestyle changes, we can all reduce our carbon footprint.”
‘Developing a Low Carbon Economy’ has been sent to a wide range of consultees, from parish councils to big businesses.
Forum 21, which drafted the document, is keen to hear the views of local residents so that everybody’s view is considered and incorporated into the final strategy.
Lorna Scott, of Forum 21, said: “A lot of time and research has gone into the strategy and we feel it will be quite an eye-opener when local people realise just how much money and energy is wasted at the expense of our environment - much of it unnecessarily.
“Climate change is often associated with gloomy news, but our strategy shows how we intend to turn this challenge into a positive story for the people of West Somerset, our environment, and our economy.”
The strategy can be found on West Somerset Council’s website at
There is a questionnaire which can be completed online, or downloaded and returned to Sarah Wilsher, West Somerset Council, Killick Way, Williton, TA4 4QA, or emailed to
The deadline for comments is Wednesday, April 30.
There will also be a series of presentations for businesses and the public on the draft strategy which include:

  • For the business sector - Thursday, February 14, from 6.15 pm at the Queens Hall, Minehead, hosted by Minehead and District Chamber of Commerce
  • For everybody - Tuesday, February 26, from 7 pm at the Forum 21 meeting in the Methodist Church, Watchet
  • For everybody – Thursday, March 6, at a public meeting from 7 pm to 9 pm at Exmoor House, Dulverton.

Envision, a partnership of not-for-profit independent environmental business support organisations in the South West, is also running free training in February on how businesses can implement environmental measures, use sustainable design and construction, manage waste, and discover more about renewable energy.
For more information on the February training options visit or call 01823 366830.

  • Our photograph taken on Minehead sea front shows (left to right) s Loretta Whetlor, Councillor Michael Downes, Lorna Scott, and strategic partnership manager Simon Hankinson. Photo submitted.

Night time Exmoor farm raiders net £12,000 of machinery

QUAD bikes and farm equipment valued at £12,000 have been stolen in a night time raid on an isolated Exmoor farm.
The thieves forced their way into a barn at the unnamed farm in Simonsbath between 8 pm on Friday, January 18, and 8 am on Saturday, January 19.
They stole two Yamaha quad bikes (similar to the one pictured, right) and a Wessex Jensen towed wood chipper and other farming equipment.
Details have just been published by the police - nearly two weeks after the crime was committed.
Exmoor neighbourhood beat manager PC Alan Edwards is appealing for anybody who might have any information about the offence to contact him by calling 0845 4567000 or using the free Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111, where they do not have to leave their name but they could receive a reward.

Exmoor distraction burglary pensioner loses cash and jewellery

AN elderly Exmoor woman has had more than £500 of cash and jewellery stolen from her home after a bogus workman lured her outside her front door.
The distraction burglary happened in Bridgetown at about 3.15 pm on Tuesday, January 22, but details have only just been released by the police.
The woman answered a knock at the door by a man who said he had ‘come to sort out the drains’.
She followed him outside, and there was what police described as ‘a cursory examination’ of a drain before the man then left.
When the woman returned to her house, she discovered somebody had stolen cash and jewellery to the value of £550.
Police are appealing for anybody who might have any information about the offence.
To contact PC Jeff Trimmings by calling 0845 4567000 or using the free Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111, where they do not have to leave their name but they could receive a reward.
The Bridgetown incident follows a recent warning by police for home owners to be on the look-out for bogus workmen who may say they are looking to spruce up their home or garden, but could leave them counting the cost.
Police spokesman Dan Mountain said: “Historically, this time of year often sees more reports of bogus workmen and rogue traders as people look to have home improvements and garden landscaping work done before the spring.”
He said in one recent incident in the Bridgwater area, a 92-year-old woman was charged several thousands of pounds for work on her garden, driveway, and roof.
However, the work was never carried out and she was left out of pocket.
Police are expecting many home owners to receive a knock at the door offering such services as weed clearing, hedge trimming, and tree surgery.
The official advice is to always use a reputable, local tradesman when possible, and to talk to friends, family, and neighbours and look for a firm to be recommended by the, while always obtaining three competitive quotes.
Mr Mountain said: “Reputable tradesmen will have no problem in supplying a quote and full contact or billing details - not just a mobile phone number.”
Police also advise home owners to always check photographic ID, to never let anybody into their home whom they are not entirely comfortable with, and not to feel embarrassed if they feel they need to make a telephone call to ensure the caller is who they say they are.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Family of drowned harbour teenager threaten to sue council

THE family of a teenager who drowned after jumping into Minehead Harbour are considering suing West Somerset Council for not providing a lifeguard who might have saved him.
Sixteen-year-old Sam Boyd, of Minehead, died on August 2 last year after leaping 10 feet into the sea from the harbour steps as the area around the harbour was packed with holidaymakers and local residents enjoying a summer’s evening.
He and a young friend ignored warning signs about the danger, and Sam also disregarded advice his mother had previously given him not to swim in the harbour.
The family moved to Minehead from Tottenham, in North London, only four months before the tragedy.
An inquest yesterday, Tuesday, January 29, heard evidence of how Sam ’doggy paddled’ to a post 50 feet out to sea and then found himself in difficulties in the heavy tide as he returned.
Sam was heard three times to shout ‘help me’ before he disappeared under the water.
He was found during the early hours of the following day after an intensive search and rescue operation which involved Minehead’s lifeboat crew, local boat owners, police, and a deep-sea diving team.
Sam’s mother, Louise Boyd, told the West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose how Sam could swim well at school but did not have a lot of experience of swimming in the sea.
She had told Sam not to swim or jump into the harbour because he said he had previously struggled there.
Mr Rose recorded a verdict of accidental death and spoke of the dangers of swimming in the sea.
Mr Rose said: “Minehead has the second-fastest tide in the world and as the lifeboatmen have told us, not even a strong swimmer could beat the currents.
“It would have been almost impossible. I would strongly advise people not to do this and I will be writing to authorities to demand clearer signs.”
Afterwards, the family spoke of their anger at the council for not making sure the harbour had a lifeguard on duty and said they were looking at taking legal action.
Sam’s stepfather, Martin Darrell, said: “It goes to prove that Minehead needs better safety provisions in the harbour. A lifeguard might have made a difference.”
  • Our photograph shows how the web version of the The Post reported the tragedy on the morning after it happened.

Judge frees manslaughter charge youth on bail

ONE of two youths accused of killing Minehead man Tim Chilcott has been released from custody by a judge.
The 16-year-old was granted bail when he appeared on a manslaughter charge in Exeter Crown Court yesterday, Tuesday, January 29.
Judge Graham Cottle ordered the youth to live with a relative in Edmonton, London, while on bail and to report to his local police station every Friday.
The judge also imposed an 8 pm to 6 am curfew on the teenager and banned him from entering Somerset other than to attend appointments with his legal team.
The youth was further ordered not to contact any witnesses in the case, nor any other defendants.
The teenager appeared in court with 19-year-old Sean Wylds, of Alcombe, Minehead, who was also charged with manslaughter following Mr Chilcott's death in hospital on January 21, 36 hours after he had been found unconscious in a Minehead town centre street.
Wylds was remanded in custody.
Judge Cottle adjourned the hearing for seven weeks while prosecution papers were prepared, with a view to taking a plea and holding a case management hearing five weeks later.

  • Meanwhile, an inquest into Mr Chilcott's death was opened yesterday, when evidence was given that he died from a fractured skull.
    Two policemen who found Mr Chilcott lying at the junction of Blenheim Road and The Avenue at first thought he was all right but then realised he had blood on his mouth and chin and that the pupils of his eyes were dilated.

Exmoor village's Pubwatch scheme aims to tackle troublemakers

LICENSEES in Porlock are working closely with local police to help make the village a safer place.
Seven public houses in and around the village have signed up to a Pubwatch scheme which will help police to deal with those involved in anti-social behaviour and drink-related crime.
Anybody involved in violence, criminal damage, or causing alarm and harassment to other pub-goers, will face a six-month ban from all of the venues.
And any assaults on licensees or staff will see them banned for life from all the premises.
The move comes nearly a month after an outbreak of violence and assaults in the otherwise sleepy village which have all been linked by residents to one particular ‘problem’ family.
Police are continuing with an investigation into the New Year troubles, which included an early evening incident where a gang of hammer-wielding youths smashed every High Street window of the Ship Inn while customers were eating and drinking inside.
Sgt Andy Whysall, who heads the Dulverton area’s ‘Safer, Stronger Neighbourhood Team’, said: “Porlock is a picturesque village on Exmoor, where the local residents enjoy a peaceful way of life - we want to keep it that way.
“If somebody is ejected from one pub for being a nuisance, they will be banned from there for the night, the other premises will be informed, and that person may find themselves banned from all the venues in the village for the rest of the evening.
“Persistent troublemakers face being banned from every local pub for at least six months, something we hope will make people reform their behaviour.
“This is another example of the local community working together in partnership with the police to build a safer, stronger neighbourhood.”
The scheme includes the Royal Oak, the Lorna Doone Hotel, Castle Hotel, Ship Inn, Anchor Hotel, and the Ship Inn, at Porlock Weir, and the Culbone Inn, at Oare.
Pubwatch and the ‘banned from one, banned from all’ scheme has already been introduced successfully in many towns and large villages across the Avon and Somerset Police area.
  • Our photograph shows the Lorna Doone Hotel, in Porlock, which is one of the premises taking part in the Pubwatch scheme. Photo submitted.

Appeal for witnesses to A39 three-car smash

POLICE have today, Wednesday, January 30, launched an appeal for witnesses to a serious road traffic accident which happened on the A39 neare Minehead last week.
PC Richard Overall is appealing for anybody who witnessed the accident to contact him at Minehead police station.
It happened shortly after 7 am on Tuesday, January 22, on the Dunster straight near the sawmills works.
A blue Peugeot 307 and blue Mini Cooper were travelling towards Minehead when they collided with a black Vauxhall Calibra travelling in the opposite direction.
The three-car crash resulted in the A39 being shut for several hours while the three drivers were cut free from the wreckage and the extensive amount of debris was cleared.
PC Overall said although it was a serious incident, none of the injuries suffered by the drivers - two women and a man - were life-changing.
It was the second serious road accident on the A39 outside Minehead in little more than a fortnight.

Foxes is first Somerset college to receive Beacon Status

A PRESTIGIOUS Beacon Status award has been made to Foxes Academy, in Minehead, in recognition of its work in training students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
Beacon Status is awarded by the Quality Improvement Agency and Learning and Skills Council to recognise excellent practice which deserves to be shared with others nationwide.
Foxes Academy is the first independent specialist college in Somerset to achieve the outstanding award, and becomes one of just over 100 colleges and organisations nationwide to be given the status.
It is a leading employer in Minehead and has achieved the award not only for excellent results and employability of their learners, but also by increasing their outstanding levels of training and ongoing pursuance of qualifications for all 77 members of staff.
The award ceremony was held on Monday at The Assembly Hall, Church House, Westminster, when seven members of the senior management team of Foxes Academy and three learners attended.
Photo submitted.

Council planners asked to approve New Horizons despite no money for it

DISTRICT councillors will be asked tomorrow, Thursday, January 31, to grant planning approval for West Somerset’s £50 million New Horizons project – even though the council has pulled its financial backing for the scheme.
New Horizons was intended to provide the district with a new hospital, sports centre and leisure facilities including a swimming pool, business support and training, and housing, including affordable homes for local people.
Now, an outline planning application will be put before tomorrow’s meeting of the council’s planning committee, with a recommendation for councillors to allow it subject to no substantive objections being received from organisations which have still to make comments.
The planning application has been submitted by the council itself in order that the principle of the development can be agreed.
But a deepening financial crisis which has hit the council since Independent councillors took control in last year’s elections has forced the authority to withdraw its £11 million share of the funding.
However, Somerset Primary Care Trust (PCT) is still looking at the possibility of going ahead with the £26 million hospital element of the scheme on its own, because almost all of the cost will be met by the Government.
Work is planned to start on the hospital during the summer of this year and it should be ready to accept patients in mid-2009.
Staff in the existing Minehead hospital recently shared their views on the design of the new community hospital.
The developers, Laing O’Rouke, met with clinical staff to discuss the design of the new facility, which is being planned on a site off Seaward Way, Minehead.
PCT project director Simon Corrick said: “We held a very successful project launch day which allowed the hospital developers, Laing O’Rouke, to meet with the staff who will be working in the new hospital.
“The meeting provided a good opportunity to allow our staff to discuss their thoughts on how the hospital should be designed and operated, and for Laing O’Rouke to introduce members of their team who will be working with us over the next two years.
“The event was very useful and enabled our staff to fully understand the process that will be followed.
“In particular, I think it provided reassurance that staff will be fully involved in the process.”
Laing O’Rouke was appointed by the PCT and will take full responsibility for all aspects of the design and construction of the new hospital.
The company has considerable experience in the development of public buildings and is presently completing a new hospital in Frome which will receive its first patients this summer.
Mr Corrick said: “This is the first part of the design process and we now face a very intensive three months which will result in a design which will be submitted for a full planning application later this year.
“In the meantime, we continue working with the other partner organisations which are collaborating on the development of the town’s New Horizons project.”
Members of the Somerset Patient and Public Involvement Forum - which is an NHS watchdog - this week expressed their concern at the district council’s withdrawal from the New Horizons project.
The forum recognised the council’s financial constraints but urged it to think again, in order to allow New Horizons to go ahead as planned.
Forum chairman Maureen Lloyd Williams said: “The shared site would foster links between all sections of the community. It will be a huge boost to the area.”

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Family statement published as manslaughter charge youths appear before judge

THE family of Timothy Chilcott, who was killed in a street attack in Minehead on the weekend before last, today (Tuesday, January 29) released a statement in memory of him.
The statement was on behalf of his parents Fred and Sylvia, his brother Kevin, and his sister Heather, brother-in-law Phill, sister-in-law Jayde, and nephew Rhyley.
It came as two teenagers accused of killing Tim Chilcott were due to appear before a judge in Exeter Crown Court today at the start of committal proceedings.
Sean Wylds, aged 19, from Minehead, and a 16-year-old youth, also from Minehead, whose identity is currently protect by the law because he is under 18, face charges of manslaughter.They have been in custody since an initial appearance before magistrates in Taunton last Tuesday, and it was expected they would again be remanded in custody by the judge.A third youth, aged 18 years, who was arrested along with Wylds and the 16-year-old, also from Minehead, is currently on police bail while further inquiries are carried out.
Mr Chilcott was found unconscious with severe head injuries in Blenheim Road, Minehead, at 1 am on Sunday, January 20.
He died in hospital 36 hours later after being on a life support machine.
The family statement said: “Tim was the best and most loving son and brother that we could have ever wished for.
“He was very caring, not just to us his family, but was always there for anybody who needed him.
“He will always be remembered for his pearls of wisdom, jokes and laughter with everybody, and had a good sense of humour.
“For us his family, we feel a great loss of a son and brother that we loved so very much.
“To know that Tim was so special to so many people is helping us cope with our loss.
“We would like to thank everybody for their support and their kindness.”
The family requested the media not to contact them directly and asked to be left ‘to grieve at this sad time’.
West Somerset coroner Michael Rose was also today due to open Mr Chilcott's inquest for identification purposes before adjourning to a date to be fixed.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Explorer Sir Ranulph pledges to do more recycling

WORLD famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who lives on Exmoor, near Exford, has become the latest celebrity to sign up to the Somerset Waste Partnership’s ‘Pledge to Recycle’.
Sir Ranulph (pictured) has pledged to help reduce the ‘mountain’ of waste created each year in the UK by making greater efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle his waste.
He chose to give his support to the campaign and to sign up to the pledge online.
Sir Ranulph said: “I know how important it is to look after our environment.
“Recycling is an easy and effective way for us all to do our bit and I for one have joined up and pledged to recycle.”
The ‘Pledge to Recycle’ campaign was launched last year by Somerset cricketers Marcus Trescothick and Neil Edwards, and aims to encourage people to reuse, reduce, and recycle their household waste.
‘Pledgers’ can choose to receive a regular ‘e-recycle’ newsletter providing hints and tips on reducing and recycling household waste.
The newsletter also features competitions offering a range of environmentally-friendly prizes.
Councillor Nigel Woollcombe-Adams, chairman of the Somerset Waste Partnership said: “Over 2,300 people have already signed up across Somerset, and we believe that it is a great way for residents to be kept informed on all the new recycling schemes that will be coming up throughout the year.”
To join in and sign up to the ‘Pledge to Recycle’ scheme, log on to

It's official - Tesco wants Aquasplash

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has confirmed it is interested in buying the now-closed Aquasplash leisure pool in Minehead as part of a larger deal involving the town’s Vulcan Road car park site.
Following a story leaked a fortnight ago from inside cash crisis West Somerset Council, Tesco corporate affairs manager Tony Fletcher gave The Post a ‘categorical denial’ that the company had purchased the sites.
But Mr Fletcher confirmed the company had submitted proposals as part of the current consultation exercise over the future use of the Vulcan Road site.
Mr Fletcher said: “The company is awaiting feedback from the council’s consultation exercise and believes that its proposals for a larger foodstore, along with a much-needed hotel, coach parking, and further residential units, are essential to meet the future needs of both local residents and visitors to the town.
“A larger foodstore - comparable to that in Tiverton - will offer shoppers a wider range and more choice, especially of local produce and specialist foods such as organic products.
“It will also draw shoppers to Minehead from outlying areas, thus preventing them having to drive further afield to other destinations, whereas a second foodstore of comparable size to the existing one will not be able to offer such a wide variety.
“A new, larger Tesco would also act as a magnet to new shoppers and, importantly, to other new retailers as a result of the redevelopment of the existing store site for retail use.”
Mr Fletcher said Tesco looked forward to being part of the Minehead community for many years to come, irrespective of whether or not it was chosen for the Vulcan Road site.
He said: “Tesco’s existing store in Seaward Way has served Minehead for more than seven years, employing nearly 180 local people, and has played an integral part in the local community.
“During this time, the store has proved extremely popular to both local residents and visitors to the town.
“As part of our on-going process, the company is always reviewing its product range and store performance.
“The store is already handling more customers than it was designed for and thus is operating under severe constraints.
“This is confirmed in the initial feedback from a survey currently being undertaken among our customers which also suggests customers would like to see more locally-sourced and organic produce, a range of clothing, and a cafĂ©.
“The full results of the Tesco survey will be published shortly.”
Council PR and media officer Stacey Beaumont said: “The council, like the public, has learned of this apparent interest through the media and has not had any contact regarding this matter from Tesco.
“In any case, we would like to point out that Aquasplash is not on the market and, with regards to Vulcan Road, no decision has been made or will be made until councillors have received and considered the consultation results.”

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Rising petrol prices - yes, you can protest

MOTORISTS in West Somerset are being urged to join a nationwide fuel protest designed to drive down the price of a litre of petrol.
An email has been circulating which argues that all drivers need to do is boycott the largest petrol company stations - Esso and BP - for the rest of the year.
The author urges people instead to buy their petrol from Tesco, Sainsburys, Shell, Jet, and other companies.
The thinking behind it is that a one-day boycott as happened last spring has little effect, and only a few people could manage without fuel at all for any length of time, therefore the petrol companies just have to wait it out.
However, by boycotting the largest two companies, these would eventually have to lower their prices - and the others would then follow suit.
The emailer asks for everybody who receives the message to forward it to at least 10 other people, so the idea will quickly spread among millions of people, and ‘together we can make a difference’.
His aim is to hold out until people see prices drop back below 70p per litre.