Thursday, 19 June 2008

Debbie earns respect for dedication to estate's youth inclusion project

A PRESENTATION has been made to a woman whose work with young people in the community has helped Avon and Somerset Police to reduce crime in West Somerset.
Debbie Fitzpatrick has co-ordinated the Dreamscheme community youth development project on the Seaward Way estate, in Minehead, since it started last October.
She received a certificate as part of Neighbourhood Watch Week from Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen.
The scheme, based on the concept of work, points and trips, aims to develop a sense of ownership in young people which prevents anti-social behaviour and encourages positive community spirit through work and rewards.
When police set up the Alcombe neighbourhood beat team, a major concern of local residents was anti-social behaviour and lack of respect among young people on the Seaward Way estate.
Police consultated with Knightstone Housing Association, the local youth service, and West Somerset’s crime and disorder reduction partnership, and a Dreamscheme was suggested, with Mrs Fitzpatrick immediately stepping forward to co-ordinate it.
Dreamscheme’s first activity was a clean-up day in October of last year, with residents encouraged to dispose of unwanted, non-recyclable items.
It proved so popular that extra skips had to be provided.
Young people supported by the local agencies helped to clear litter from the residential area as well the estate’s multi-use games area, making it available for soccer coaching by a Plymouth Argyle football coach, with a match at the end of the session as a clear example of ‘work with a reward’.
The second event was a two-day arts project with professional artist and sculptor Rick Ellam making a set while the children made puppets, provided the story, and put on a performance for their parents.
Again, it was so successful that the arts project continues to be held on Tuesday nights with children being collected by minibus driven by local beat manager PC Steve Cutler.
The youth service provides staff and a number of children from the estate attend.
The current project is to design wooden boards for the multi-use games area to help ensure its future.
Sponsorship from local businesses in the form of money and materials helps to support the project.
In January, the children held a car washing event, with equipment provided by the local fire brigade.
Later in the month, Dreamscheme children gardened on the estate, clearing beds and laying a lorry-load of mulch.
The points earned were then used in February when some of the children went to watch Plymouth Argyle play against Hull City in the Football League and despite Plymouth losing 1-0, they enjoyed their day out.
Also in February, the younger children had a swimming trip to the Quantock Lodge Pool combined with a trip to McDonalds, and later in the month many of them cleaned up leaves and litter within the multi-use games area in preparation for a half-term arts project.
After two hours, they had collected 20 bags of rubbish, earned lots of points, and made a real difference to the look of the area.
Mr Hansen said: “Debbie is the central point of contact for the young people on the estate and her role is central to the success of the project.
“It is for this, her hard work and enthusiasm, that she and the ‘team’ have been nominated.”
  • Our photograph shows Debbie Fitzpatrick receiving her certificate from Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen. Photo submitted.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Crimebuster Martin is praised for eight years of helping town's retailers

VOLUNTEER crimebuster Martin Hodges has been honoured for his work over the past eight years with the Minehead Shop Patrol.
The scheme started in 1998 when a small group of retail businesses came together to tackle shared problems, which were mainly focussed around shoplifting.
The group quickly grew to 20 subscribers, sharing information to prevent crime on their premises and working closely with the local police under an information sharing protocol.
Shortly after the scheme started, Operation Goldfinch achieved the arrests of 12 people in just two days.
The Shop Patrol aims to provide a low-cost, up-to-date effective communication system between traders in the town and local police to enable crime prevention and detection.
Mr Hodges has been responsible for communications and the system now includes networked radios which cover Minehead from the town centre retail shopping area to the seafront.
Information is passed between traders, police officers, and PCSOs about occurrences and activities of suspect individuals in the town.
In addition to the radio links, a CCTV system now covers the town centre, with a part-time CCTV co-ordinator who also monitors the Shop Patrol radio.
Information is shared about known shoplifters and their whereabouts in and about the town centre.
Avon and Somerset Police Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen said Mr Hodge’s local knowledge had proven invaluable on many occasions and ‘his dedication, energy and enthusiasm for reducing shoplifting have been invaluable to the scheme’.
ACC Hansen said: “With his help, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour have been reduced and offenders identified, arrested, and convicted.
“The community liaison between the traders and the police in Minehead has been greatly supported and improved by Martin and his hard work with the Shop Watch scheme.
“It is for all these achievements that he is given this award.”
  • Our photograph shows Martin Hodges (left) receiving his certificate from Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen. Photo submitted.

Minister visiting Exmoor to discuss future vision

A MINISTERIAL visit to Exmoor will take place tomorrow (Thursday) as the national park authority showcases some of its successful work.
Jonathan Shaw (pictured), the new Minister with responsibility for national parks, will spend the day seeing projects for himself and considering important local issues.
Mr Shaw, who is Minister for Landscape and Rural Affairs, will discuss the future of farming and the vision for a carbon neutral National Park by 2025.
During the afternoon, he will travel to Anstey and Molland Moors to consider the potential impact of proposed wind farms outside Exmoor’s southern boundary.
Then, he will pay a visit to Blackpitts, near Simonsbath, to view habitat restoration work and moorland restoration proposals.
Mr Shaw, who has been Labour MP for Chatham and Aylesford since 1997, said: “Exmoor is important, not just for its wonderful scenery and tranquility, but for its contribution to a better environment for all of us through conservation of the land and wildlife and tackling climate change.
“I am impressed by the National Park’s efforts, working with others such as farmers and landowners, local communities, businesses, and local authorities so that many more people in the future can appreciate and enjoy Exmoor’s special qualities.”

Monday, 16 June 2008

Crime is still falling says West Somerset police chief

THE number of crimes being committed across West Somerset has continued to fall, the district’s police chief, Inspector Carol Pearce, has claimed.
Inspector Pearce said there was a 25 per cent reduction in crime last year, and a further five per cent fall since April of this year.
She said: “It is all about keeping our community safe and enabling people to feel safe, whether on holiday or a resident.”
Inspector Pearce was speaking after a successful Operation Relentless initiative at the weekend in which officers visited alcohol-designated areas and licensed premises to detect licensing and drug offences and to seize alcohol.
The York House Inn, in Minehead, which is a Pub Watch member, took part in drug testing, working with police and the licensing department.
An Itemiser machine was used and 49 people were tested for controlled drugs - with none found to be positive.
The number of alcohol seizures was also well down on the previous such exercise, and Inspector Pearce said this type of prevention activity would be repeated by partners across West Somerset.
Inspector Pearce said: “This is a positive indication that police presence, and new orders, are having an impact on people’s behaviour.
“It shows that most of the time we have people in the right place at the right time.
“Police officers, PCSOs, and Special Constables are routinely checking alcohol-designated areas, seizing alcohol, and moving people on though a Section 27 Order where they may cause a nuisance.”
Inspector Pearce said people now understood the message that police were taking anti-social-behaviour and drugs abuse seriously.
However, she said it remained important for residents to keep the police informed about any problems they had in their area.
She said: “I make sure my patrols are in the areas we know they are needed.
“If people do not tell us about their problems, we do not always know they exist.”

Bursary helps Open DAWS members enjoy Exmoor activity weekend

A SIXTY per cent Lexus Bursary worth more than £1,900 helped a group of Open DAWS members to enjoy a long weekend at the Calvert Trust, on Exmoor.
The bursary was secured by West Somerset Council and allowed six members of Open DAWS to take part in abseiling, canoeing, sailing, and other activities at the trust’s centre at Wistpoundland.
Open DAWS stands for Opening the Doors to Disabled Activities in West Somerset. The Calvert Trust’s facilities are designed for people of all abilities to take part in range of healthy outdoor pursuits.
Anne Roberts, who went on the weekend, said: “I have never been before and it was a fantastic trip.
“I tried activities I have never done before and it was great fun.”
The group has also launched a new action-packed events listing for the summer and would welcome more people joining it to go sailing at Wimbleball Lake, swimming at St Audries, sea fishing, horse riding, or simply relaxing at yoga sessions, as well as trips to Tiverton Museum, Paignton Zoo, and Slimbridge Nature Reserve.
Open DAWS is supported by West Somerset Council and emerged from work undertaken with Watchet and District Activity Group (WADAG) by council community officer Liz Stewart.
Council community portfolio holder Councillor Neil Parbrook said: “Open DAWS provides some fantastic activities.
“People get the chance to enjoy pastimes in a friendly atmosphere or try something completely new.
“Qualified instructors and coaches are on hand to help everybody enjoy the activities on offer.”
A membership scheme is available and by joining, people will receive reduced rates for all the activities, or they can take part as non-members.
All activities are run by qualified personnel, and transport to and from activities can be arranged.
More information about Open Daws is available by calling Liz Stewart on 07921 231369 or Gail Sloman on 01984 635208, or emailing or, or logging onto
  • Our photograph shows members of Open DAWS enjoying a day out at a steam railway during their weekend away. Photo submitted.