Saturday, 8 March 2008

F1 chance for karting champ Beresford

WEST Somerset kart racer Beresford Mandley (pictured, centre) is to compete in a race of champions at Wembley Stadium for the title of BP’s Ultimate Karter.
Beresford received confirmation this week that he had set a fastest lap time at a qualifying event held at Team-Sport, in Cardiff, which was a new track record of 27.145 seconds.
Thousands of drivers have been taking part at 20 participating tracks around the UK and those with the fastest lap times qualify for the Wembley final later this year.
Beresford and several members of the Somerset Karting Club, which he co-founded, had travelled to various venues in the hope in setting the fastest lap times, but he was the only one to do so.
Beresford, who is 2006-07 National Karting Association Champion, is currently looking for local businesses and motor sport enthusiasts to be a part of a two-year sponsorship deal to help him compete in the Formula 100 series and in more British championships.
Due to lack of sponsors last year, he was unable to raise the £2,500 funding which was needed to compete in that series.
Beresford funds most of his karting activities himself, but previous sponsors Andrew and Sarah Dixon, of Andrews on the Weir, at Porlock Weir, came to his rescue with a sponsorship boost which enabled him to qualify for major competitions such as the BP Ultimate Karter, where he can prove his racing abilities.
He is also waiting for confirmation of a qualifying lap time set in January, which is a competition to find the next F1 star.
Event management company So World Ltd, the Daily Star newspaper, and broadcasters Channel 5 have come together to organise this 12-round championship, starting with karts up to Formula One.
The final two drivers will battle it out in an F1 car to see who will win a contract with a recognised racing team.
The Somerset Karting Club has been operating for more than a year with more than 40 members aged 16 to 80 who can enter the Somerset Karting Club Super series.
Prizes will be awarded for overall series champion, best newcomer, most improved member, best female driver of the year, and the brand new weight classes.
Membership is free and members can learn new driving techniques, race craft, and find their own driving abilities in a safe environment.
Depending on interest from younger members, there could be a juniors’ championship set up for ages eight to16 years.
More information can be found at

Friday, 7 March 2008

Minehead 'a safe place to live'

FIVE weeks to the day after Minehead gardener Tim Chilcott was killed by a savage town centre street assault which shocked the community, security guard Mike McDermaid was attacked in the town’s busiest supermarket and suffered a fractured skull and eye socket.
A young teenager came up behind Mr McDermaid and struck him over the head with a full bottle of spirits which had been stolen from the store, knocking him to the ground.
The police officer leading the earlier inquiry into Mr Chilcott’s killing, Det Chief Insp Martyn Triggol, announced publicly afterwards that such attacks were rare and Minehead generally ‘remains a very safe place’.
Now, however, Mr McDermaid, who previously served 24 years as a Special Constable in Minehead, is lucky to be alive after a late-night assault which happened as he carried out his duties in Tesco, off Seaward Way.
Mr McDermaid, who lives in Watchet, was attempting to help a colleague restrain a second teenager in the foyer of the supermarket when the assault happened.
Both youths were said to be attending 24/7 @ Periton Mead specialist school, just outside Minehead, and one was known to most traders in the town who belong to the anti-crime Shopwatch scheme.
They had already been officially barred from entering the Tesco store because of previous incidents.
Mr McDermaid told The Post: “Knowing that they were barred, they were actually entering as ‘burglars’.
“I immediately alerted the police and the store management and locked the doors.
“It all then kicked off in the foyer. They shoulder-charged the doors to try to get the doors open, then they were kicking the windows trying to get out. They had a girl accomplice outside who was kicking the windows trying to get in.
“I was going towards the one that my mate was holding onto when the other one came up behind me and cracked me over the head.
“It put me in hospital for two days and fractured my skull from the forehead just above the hairline down to the right eyebrow, which gave me a black eye.
“I do not know why he did it. I was no threat to him because I was going away from him.”
Mr McDermaid has been off work since the assault, which happened at about 10.15 pm on February 25, and he is not likely to be able to return for another three weeks.
Despite nearly a quarter-of-a-century working on police duties in the town, it was the first physical assault he had suffered.
He said: “I deal with anything that comes through the doors from day to day, but not anything like this before.
“It is a regular occurrence to be threatened, and I was once told by somebody they were going to come back and I was going to be stabbed, but I have not had anything like this before.
“As a Special Constable I have been involved in fights, of course, restraining people, especially outside the nightclubs, but this is the first time it has turned to violence towards me.”
Mr McDermaid said the incident had not put him off his security duties and he was keen to return to work.
Police confirmed that two juveniles had been arrested, one on suspicion of theft and assault, and the second on suspicion of criminal damage.
Both were charged to appear before a youth court the following day. The law prevents newspapers from identifying the teenagers because of their young age.
  • Our photographs show Mr McDermaid's injuries two days after the attack. Photos submitted.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

'Tories in turmoil' claim by ex-chairman

ALLEGATIONS of turmoil within the ranks of Minehead Conservatives have surfaced in the wake of last year’s co-option to the town council of Mandy Chilcott.
Former town councillor Tony Berry (pictured, right), an ex-chairman of the Minehead branch, said the organisation was in disarray, with the past four chairmen all resigning because of lack of support.
As well as himself, the other chairmen to have departed were Phil Cross, Terry Venner, and Phil Greatorex.
Mr Berry told The Post: “They are all hard working people but they have all left because of the in-fighting and due to certain individuals.”
Speaking for himself, Mr Berry said matters came to a head after he was put forward as the Conservatives’ preferred candidate to fill a town council vacancy in Alcombe East ward.
Mr Berry, who was previously chairman of the council’s finance committee, said the names of two other unofficial candidates were subsequently put forward, whom he believed were encouraged by the Bridgwater constituency association.
They were Norman Hercock, who was already a district councillor, and Mandy Chilcott.
Town councillors then voted to co-opt Mrs Chilcott, with at least two Conservatives councillors supporting her.
Mr Berry told The Post: “I was let down by my colleagues after the branch had decided I would be the candidate.
“I was upset and disappointed. I do not like to talk about it because it is a smack against the Conservatives, but I feel it is the only way to make people realise what is going on.”
Mr Berry said he had not received any reply from the association when he queried what had gone on, and he believed two other people had also written to the association without a response.
“I have been waiting three months for Bridgwater to reply to correspondence about it,” he said.
“The Minehead branch has been in limbo. Nothing has been going on, no fund-raising or anything.
“I spent ages getting it going again when I was chairman, and now I have been kicked in the teeth by my colleagues.
“As soon as another vacancy comes along, I shall stand. I shall probably stand as an Independent, but I shall always have leanings towards the Conservatives.
“If I could move to a different branch of the Conservatives, like Watchet, I would probably do that.”
The Bridgwater constituency agent, John Cole, was asked by The Post if he wanted to respond to Mr Berry’s comments but had not done so by the time the newspaper went to press.
The Minehead branch was reconstituted at a meeting last week, when former Minehead Deputy Mayor, Stephen Dear, was appointed chairman, and former mayor and district council chairman Ann Foxhuntley became vice-chairman.
The Post understands that the branch has also reinstated renegade Conservative John Malin as a member.
Dr Malin caused fury within the party at the last Somerset County Council elections in 2005 when he quit the party and stood as an Independent in Minehead against sitting Conservative councillor Colin Hill.
Consequently the vote was split, causing Mr Hill to lose his seat, which then gave the Liberal Democrats a one seat majority over the Conservatives at County Hall.
His reinstatement now is seen as an attempt to lobby for the official Conservative nomination for next year’s county council elections.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Former Mayor stands down to concentrate on business

THE former Mayor of Minehead and Alcombe, Councillor Nick Messarra (pictured, left), has resigned from both the district and town councils.
Councillor Messarra officially stepped down on Friday, after several weeks agonising over the decision.
He had represented the Alcombe East ward as a Conservative councillor on both West Somerset Council and Minehead Town Council since 1999.
Councillor Messarra told The Post: “I have been thinking about this for quite a long time and I am really sad to be standing down as I love helping the town and the people who live and work here.
“But I have to concentrate more on my business, which is taking me all over the country at times, and I am finding it harder and harder to find the time for council duties.
“I also have a young family who are growing up and need me to spend more time with them, which adds to the time pressures on me.
“Being a councillor can be a full-time job just in itself and I am full of admiration for anybody who manages to do it well.
“I have always tried to do everything to the best of my abilities and so I think it is better that I stand down now and let somebody else take over.
“It has really been an honour to serve the public and I have enjoyed being able to achieve lots of things for them, whether it has been the small projects like getting a bus shelter or a seat, or the grander scale of pulling in millions of pounds of investment money from Europe.
“At the end of the day I have helped to make a difference to the quality of life for many, many people, and I am proud of that.”
Councillor Messarra said a highpoint was when he served a term of office as Mayor of Minehead and Alcombe.
He also held the economic development and business liaison portfolio on the district council for four years, and was previously a commissioner for finance.
Before serving on the council, he was chairman of Minehead Chamber of Commerce and Trade for eight years, and he was also a founder-member of Minehead Lions Club.
As a councillor, he was branded the ‘people’s champion’ because of his tendency to cut through red tape in order to make sure community projects were carried out without undue delay.
A by-election is now likely to be held for the district and town council vacancies, which could take place during April.