Thursday, 10 April 2008

Drunk driver crashes into woman's parked car - police breathalyse HER!

CONSULTANT business trainer Margaret Worth had a shock when she heard a drunk-driver crash into and wreck her car while it was parked outside her home.
And as police responded to her 999 call and arrived to arrest the Eastern European driver, she was even more surprised when they promptly breathalysed - her.
Mrs Worth, of Glenmore Road, Minehead, had been sitting on the sofa in her living room when the crash happened outside.
But she still found herself being formally breath tested by officers to check if she had been drinking.
The result was ‘zero’ – and Mrs Worth has kept the breathalyser as a souvenir of the bizarre law enforcement approach.
However, she has not complained, as she reasoned that the test put her in the clear just in case the foreign driver tried to claim in court that she had driven into him instead.
The incident happened at about 4 pm on a Friday afternoon.
Mrs Worth told The Post: “I was sat on my sofa and heard this car going along, and then I heard a crunch and thought somebody must be hurt.
“I got to the door just in time to see him ricochet into my car, lifting it up and pushing it along by three feet.
“I could see he was drunk, and he roared off as I dialled 999 and did a circuit and came back.
“He was sat there when the police arrived and they removed an empty bottle of whisky from his car.
“I actually got cautioned and breathalysed and I had to produce my documents. Apparently, it is the law.
“The police were extremely professional. I was quite happy to give a breath test because I do not drink, and naturally it came up zero.
“On the face of it, it does sound ridiculous. I still think it is funny to be suspected of being drunk in charge of a sofa.
“But when you start to analyse it, then I suppose it does make some sense.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary spokesman Wayne Baker confirmed to The Post yesterday that it was not routine to breathalyse witnesses to such an incident.
However, Mr Baker said the officers who attended Mrs Worth’s incident had incorrectly received information that she may have been driving her car at the time.
Mr Baker said police who dealt with the incident had arrested a man on suspicion of drinking and driving.

Fraud squad police investigate photographer

FRAUD squad police have investigated a Minehead photographer who is also a former bankrupt.
Two detectives visited the town last year to speak to local businessmen about the activities of Mark Stothard (pictured), who has been trading under the company name Mark The Photographer Ltd.
The inquiries at that time were in relation to items being sold on the internet auction site eBAY apparently on behalf of a firm called, which was a genuine company not involved in any scam.
Mr Stothard, aged 40, who at one time took photographs for The Crier newspaper and subsequently for The Post, was found to have been discharged from bankruptcy only the months earlier.
He had been made bankrupt in Eastbourne County Court in May, 2005, when he was known to be also using another name, Anthony Leaver, which coincidentally was the name of a Scottish man who had lost his wallet the previous year. Anthony was also his middle name.
His occupation at the time was given as unknown and his address was listed as Gates Cottage, Beasley Farm, Timberscombe, although it had recently been in North Street, Taunton.
A month after his automatic discharge from bankruptcy, Mr Stothard converted his Mark The Photographer sole trading name to a limited company with a registered address in Praed Street, London, which continues to be used as a trading address.
Eleven months later, in December, 2007, a county court judgement for a debt of £12,194 was obtained against Mr Stothard’s company Mark The Photographer Ltd during an ‘in chambers’ session held in Banbury County Court, Oxfordshire.
A few days later, The Post began receiving invoices from Mark The Photographer Ltd claiming fees of nearly £1,000 for photographs taken under an agreement whereby had received promotion of his business in the newspaper.
Since then, the bills claimed against The Post by Mr Stothard have risen to nearly £1,300 and the newspaper has also been receiving demands on his behalf from a business calling itself South West Debt Recovery.
Mr Stothard, who uses his wife Sarah Masters a company director to sign correspondence, was recently believed to be living off Seaward Way, Minehead, but has now started using a trading address in Bridge Street, Taunton.
SW Debt Recovery – which is also the name of a dissolved company – conceals its identity by using a Taunton PO Box number as its address and does not give any names of people in the business.
After threatening court action against The Post, the debt recovery business has since claimed to have reported the newspaper to the ‘Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary together with the electoral and Parliamentary bodies regarding your business activities’.
The Mayor of Minehead, Councillor David Hawkes has received correspondence on behalf of Mr Stothard complaining that he was owed money by The Post’s sales and marketing manager, Dudley Seale, who is a town councillor.
It is understood Mr Stothard has sent similar letters to the Conservative’s constituency office and to the West Somerset Free Press and Somerset County Gazette newspapers.
The Post understands Mr Stothard has similarly harassed a member of Minehead Cricket Club and other local businesses have been upset by his demands for payments they did not believe he was owed.
Since moving to West Somerset, Mr Stothard has been involved in a string of different business names, including We Have Delivered It, Inco (IBS) Management and Business Consultants, Summerlands,, and Tender First.
One interested party who has tracked Mr Stothard’s known business history since he left school in Lancing, West Sussex, at the age of 16, described him as a ‘moving target’ who used anonymity of the internet and the privacy of accommodation boxes to evade creditors.
The Post has received an extensive dossier on Mr Stothard listing a trail of people said to have been owed money by him.
Prior to moving to live in West Somerset, Mrs Stothard also had many other business names, and one company The AJ Management Company Ltd, was compulsorily wound up by the Official Receiver in Brighton, in July, 2002.
During his time working with The Crier, Mr Stothard used a 07074 premium rate telephone number on his advertising which he claimed was a ‘mobile’ number, and he earned money every time somebody called him on it. The practice stopped when The Crier challenged him on the matter.
He also made claims on his website during 2006 that he was going to be away in France photographing the Tour de France cycle race and in Germany for the football World Cup finals – while somehow he was actually still able to be in Minehead taking photographs for The Crier.
His glossy website contains a gallery of photographs of world leaders and sportsmen, but Mr Stothard carefully avoids actually stating in writing that they were taken by him.
This week, Mr Seale went to police in Minehead to complain about Mr Stothard’s business practices.
The Post will make available to the police the dossier of information it has on Mr Stothard.
Mr Seale said: “I would like to hear from anybody else who has had dealings with Mr Stothard or any of his businesses so that I can draw up as comprehensive a picture of his activities as possible.”

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Finally, a final decision on Vulcan Road on the way

THE future development of Minehead’s Vulcan Road car park could finally be decided next week, after months of back peddling by district councillors unable to face letting down the people who elected them.
Councillors will consider their preferred option for the future development of the site at their meeting on Wednesday – even though the authority previously formally agreed a supermarket scheme and other retail use two years ago.
Another round of public consultation recently revealed there was significant local support for a medium-sized supermarket to provide competition for similar outlets in the town and support for affordable housing.
There was little support for a large Tesco supermarket, mixed retail/industrial development, or an hotel.
In light of this, the report being presented to councillors next week recommends:
  • The site for development is restricted to Vulcan Road car park and the council’s Mart Road depot site
  • The ‘preferred option’ for elements of the development consist of a medium-sized supermarket, plus A1 retail and affordable housing
  • A future draft development agreement includes clauses that require:
  1. any viable scheme put forward by the developer to include proposals for linking the development site with the town centre
  2. any viable scheme to include proposals that minimise the environmental impact of both the design and subsequent operation of the finished development
  3. the limitation of A1 retail following the non-inclusion of a hotel as part of the preferred option
  4. any viable scheme put forward identifies the difference in the amount of capital receipt generated between units of rented affordable housing and shared equity affordable housing
Once members have decided their broad preferred option for the development of the site, work will begin on drafting a detailed development agreement which will go back to the council for consideration at a later date.

Council to find £1.1m for new hospital

A NEW agreement is to be considered next week which could be an important milestone in the ill-fated New Horizons project aiming to deliver a new £36 million community hospital for West Somerset.
The cash-strapped district council will be recommended on Wednesday to find up to £1.1 million to pay for capital works to enable the scheme to go ahead.
The council previously pulled the financial plug on New Horizons when its share of the costs rose to £11 million – but there was said to be nothing in the coffers to fund it.
Despite The Post being told the council was bound by an undertaking to provide infrastructure for the hospital to be built anyway, the authority’s media and PR officer, Stacey Beaumont denied this.
Now, the ‘riot act’ has been read to district councillors by their Somerset Primary Care Trust partners and a new agreement has been drawn up, which also involves Somerset County Council and the West Somerset Community College.
New Horizons also aims to deliver a 14 to19 years vocational training centre, adult learning facilities, sports opportunities, and affordable housing.
If the agreement is approved by councillors on Wednesday, the proposed new Minehead Community Hospital will be then the subject of a detailed planning application which will be submitted by the PCT in the summer.
The agreement also maps out how the partners intend to take forward land deals so that work can also start on marketing the housing aspect of the project, 30 per cent of which will be affordable housing.
The county council has already approved the agreement, in which it commits to contributing up to £1.2 million as well as transferring significant amounts of land to partners to make the scheme work.
The report going to district councillors recommends:
  • A capital contribution equal to approximately a 25 per cent share of certain infrastructure costs of the project. This sum is to be capped at £1.1m and would support all elements of the community facilities, the Community Hospital, Skills and Enterprise Centre, new playing field provision and residential housing.

  • The transfer to Somerset County Council of an area of land adjacent to Seaward Way equal to approximately 4.4 acres. In exchange, Somerset County Council will transfer an area of land adjacent to Seaward Way equal to 0.42 acres to West Somerset Council. This will enable the creation of an access road from Seaward Way and the replacement of sports pitches within The West Somerset College.

  • The transfer to Somerset Primary Care Trust of an area of land adjacent to Seaward Way equal to approximately 0.42 acres to enable the completion of the access road to the new hospital site.

West Somerset Council has already invested £2.7m in purchasing land to help facilitate the project and has also contributed a significant amount of staff resource and time in working with the partner organisations.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Town crier to open new-look Watchet Esplanade

THE official opening of a new-look Watchet Esplanade will be celebrated on Saturday with a packed programme of events.
West Somerset Council secured £138,380 of European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) and more than £51,000 from the Somerset Rural Renaissance Partnership to enhance the area alongside one of West Somerset’s best-loved historic ports.
The enhancement project included infrastructure such as market stalls to enable the town to host local farmers and craft markets, new seating, audio/visual equipment, a refurbishment of the current shelters to include an information point, new paving in some areas, railings, lamps, curved benches, planters, and new tree plantings to boost the overall appearance.
District council chairman Councillor Jenny Hill, who is also a Watchet town councillor, said: “We are delighted with the project.
“It is now a really good area for tourists and the local community to enjoy.
“We are looking forward to the opening and to The Esplanade hosting a range of other events for the benefit of everybody.”
Town council chairman, Councillor David Banks, said: “The open day is essentially a community day where local organisations can take advantage of the enhanced facility.”
The celebrations start at 11.30 am with the cutting of a ceremonial ribbon by Alec Danby, who has served Watchet as town crier for 20 years.
A samba band, balloon modelling, the Rattlebox Theatre, Raventale Giants, and wandering clowns are also lined up to keep the crowds entertained for the afternoon.
Other activities will include a climbing wall, trampolines, hair braiding, and face painting, as well as a vintage car display and a variety of stalls on The Esplanade.
West Somerset Council’s acting head of paid service, Adrian Dyer, said: “It is great to see this project come to fruition and to see The Esplanade being enjoyed by local people.
“As well as providing new seating and renovating the shelters and paving, there is now provision for the town to host markets which will attract more visitors to this lovely, historic seaside town.”
A programme of events for the day is available from the Watchet Tourist Office or by emailing or telephoning 01984 632101.
The official opening celebrations will continue until 4.30 pm.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Our man 'Deadly' Dudley chosen for by-election challenge

THE Post columnist Dudley Seale has been chosen to fight the Alcombe East by-election for a seat on West Somerset Council.
Mr Seale, who is also a Minehead town councillor, will stand for the Conservatives.
He is one of four candidates contesting the vacancy created when former Minehead and Alcombe Mayor Nick Messarra stood down last month.
The others are Tony Bowden (Lib Dem), who has made several unsuccessful attempts at winning a seat in Watchet, Ron Bridlefor the Labour Party, and retired Minehead Town Council employee Sandra Slade, who is standing as an Independent with town and district Councillor Terry Venner acting as her agent.
The by-election will b e held on Thursday, May 1, and anybody living in the ward who is registered to vote will receive a poll card in the weeks running up to the ballot.
Polling will take place at St Michael’s Church, Alcombe, between 7 am and 10 pm, and the count will take place at the church immediately after the close of the poll.
Anybody wishing to have a postal or proxy vote must apply by 5 pm on Wednesday, April 23.
To register for a postal or proxy vote contact Electoral Services Officer Elisa Day on 01984 635272.
A vacancy in the ward for the town council will be decided by co-opting a candidate, possibly as early as next week, after nobody called for a by-election to be held.

Smart new look for Dreamscheme community volunteers

DREAMSCHEME volunteers and young people in the Seaward Way area of Minehead will now look smarter than ever, thanks to the support of local printing firm, Porlock Print.
PCSOs Luisa Skinner and Rachel Cutler met with Porlock Print boss Gary Needs and came up with a design for a polo shirt for all volunteers and children to wear when carrying out their activities and tasks in the community.
The Dreamscheme project is planning a fun day with sports coaching and re-opening of the revamped multi-use games area at Sandpiper Close, on Friday April 18.
During the past three months, young people and volunteers have been redecorating the boards that surround the area, and with support from Magna West Somerset and Knightstone Housing Associations, West Somerset Council, and police, new lines will be painted for football and basketball, and new football goals and basketball nets will be fitted.
Funding for the Dreamscheme project has also been received from local businesses and agencies.
  • Our photograph shows Gary Parker with some of the Dreamscheme volunteers. Photo submitted.