Thursday, 18 September 2008

10Parishes Festival finishes with a flourish

A NINE-day celebration of the arts ended in truly festive spirit as thousands of people flocked to Wiveliscombe town centre for a street market and weekend of local food, drink, and entertainments.
The annual 10 Parishes Festival, which ran in Wiveliscombe and the nine surrounding parishes from September 8 to 16, has become a major biennial arts and community event, involving more than 100 artists and more than 150 events.
The weekend’s activities included everything from open art galleries to sculpture gardens, and drama to singing.
On Saturday, West Street, Wiveliscombe, was closed to traffic as an estimated 2,000 people watched the town’s carnival and visited stalls selling a variety of local food, drink, and crafts - plus music and entertainment.
Festival director Pauline Homeshaw said: “It is our third festival and has been better than ever.
“It has grown into a wonderful celebration of art and community. It has been fantastic.
“Now we are looking forward to the next festival.”
The Festival Market - a first for the event - saw local shopkeepers and food and drink producers set up stalls under green and white striped canopies, with everything from chocolate to smoked trout, and local beer and craft cards to jewellery.
People of all ages thronged the street and the nearby The Square to enjoy drinks and food from the stalls and outdoor cafes.
They also sat in Jubilee Gardens and listened to bands, watched Kingsmead Community School drama group, or tried their luck at belly dancing.
A Wheelbarrow Carnival in aid of 10Radio saw 20 barrows parading through the street and to the Recreation Ground, with adults and children dressed in all kinds of inventive garb, preceded by the youngsters of Wellington Majorettes.
Jed and Sam Dove, of Wiveliscombe, won the best float for their ‘Dr Who’ theme.
Stalls did a roaring trade, with many rushing to bring in more stock or selling out, while artists in all nine parishes reported excellent results from their nine days of exhibitions.
One stallholder, Richard Robbins of Nutcombe Chocolates, Minehead, said: “It has been a very relaxed atmosphere, plenty of people, a very nice variety of stalls with local shops involved too - I have really enjoyed the day.”
Tim and Carrie Parker, of Wiveliscombe, said: “There was a great crowd, tremendous stalls, and it was good to see so many people enjoying themselves and meeting up with friends. We were very impressed.”
Throughout the weekend other events and exhibitions carried on around the parishes of Ashbrittle, Bathealton, Brompton Ralph, Chipstable and Waterrow, Clatworthy, Fitzhead, Huish Champflower, Milverton, and Stawley.
For one of the youngest exhibitors, Sam Jeffs, aged 18, who had just completed a National Diploma in Fine Art, at Somerset College, it was an opportunity to have his work seen and his Minotaur made from scrap metal was a landmark piece at the Spring Grove Market Gardens, in Milverton.
Bathealton saw a constant stream of visitors to see the Ark Has Landed - 25 pairs of animals created by villagers, as well as the colourful silk banners around the church and paintings by well known professional artists, including Tilly Willis and Antonia Myatt.
With drama, writing, and workshop events throughout the weekend, the festival celebration ended on a high on Sunday night with The Demon Barbers, a nationally known vocal harmony cabaret show, an event which was sponsored by Wiveliscombe and District Rotary Club.
More information about the festival can be found by logging on to or calling 01984 624564.

Residents experience Indian restaurant’s innovation and authenticity

NEIGHBOURS and other residents in a Somerset market town have been given a preview of an innovative new Indian restaurant which has brought the authentic taste of the sub-continent to their doorsteps.
Moorkhana opened its doors in Wiveliscombe with a special preview party for local residents as a ‘thank you’ for their support in recent weeks, which included neighbours helping owners Mignon and Andrew Johnson clear up after a graffiti attack.
A formal opening event is still being planned for the family-friendly restaurant, which serves meals between 6 pm and 10 pm on Wednesdays to Saturdays and lunchtimes by prior arrangement.
The Moorkhana ethos is distinctive among Indian restaurants in the UK as its menu, which changes weekly, comprises entirely authentic dishes cooked just as they would be in most communities in India.
For instance, dishes are of mild to medium strength, and customers need to make a special request if they want them prepared any hotter.
Mignon, who is an Indian national, said: “True Indian food is not blisteringly hot, but has a range of exquisite flavours which are often lost when it is typically prepared in this country with too much spiciness.
“With Moorkhana, we are trying to dispel many of the myths about Indian food and educate our customers to better understand and enjoy what they are eating.
“We use authentic recipes which have been handed down through generations of my family, so this is how the food would taste if you were actually in India.”
Almost all of Moorkhana’s food products are organic and sourced as locally as possible, again just as they would be in India, including organic chicken from Chitcombe Farm, Huish Champflower, Thorne’s Butchers, Exmoor Ales, Cotleigh Brewery, The Wine Shed, and the organic co-operative Somerset Organic Link.
Moorkhana has already created several new jobs for the town, most of which have been filled by local people, and is also offering a training opportunity for a curry chef, of which there is a shortage in the UK.
The surrounding business community is also being supported through a function room which is available for local organisations, while each room is also used as a gallery to display paintings by local artists which are available to be purchased.
Moorkhana also operates an environmentally-friendly takeaway service, using stainless steel tiffins which customers retain and reuse each time they visit.
Moorkhana is the trading name of The Saffron Kitchen, which built a reputation across much of the Westcountry through farmers’ markets in towns such as Taunton, Wellington, Cotford St Luke, Minehead, Exeter, Crewkerne, and Glastonbury.
The business enjoys a five star environmental health rating which means it has an ‘excellent level of compliance’ with food safety regulations and is ‘highly confident in management of food safety’.
More information about the Moorkhana restaurant is available from Mignon and Andrew Johnson by telephoning 01984 623648 or by visiting the website
  • Our photograph shows Mignon Johnson (standing, centre) with some of the preview party guests, who included local BBC television reporter Clinton Rogers (standing, left) and former Kingsmead School head teacher Brian Collingridge (standing, right), who is now a parish councillor. Photo submitted.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

YouTube videos of youths being arrested sparks investigation

A YouTube video of police arresting a group of youths in Minehead has been branded a ‘glorification of crime’ by the district’s police chief, Inspector Carol Pearce.
Inspector Pearce said she would investigate the internet video - taken on a mobile phone - with a view to using it as evidence in criminal proceedings.
Two poor-quality clips were posted on the social networking site, both showing groups of teenagers being confronted by police officers in the town.
In one, a youth is seen being restrained by officers while another is removed from the scene.
One member of the group is filmed smiling at an officer as he is handcuffed and arrested.
In the second clip, police can be seen moving in to tackle a gang and trying to control the youths as they show resistance.
The videos were apparently separately uploaded in June and August of this year.
Inspector Pearce said: “It is disappointing that someone finds this something to laugh at.
“An arrest is a serious undertaking and we do not take arresting people lightly.”
West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said: “It is glorification of crime and makes people think it is okay to get arrested, film it, and post it as a sort of hero’s charter.
“I advise people not to do this because it is not clever and in many ways makes people think it is okay to be anti-social.”
Somerset West divisional Supt Damian Kearney called on anybody who had any video footage which could help the investigation to contact police.
Supt Kearney said: “The fact that people see it as some sort of amusing part of their day to watch is concerning.
“I do not know the facts of these incidents but ultimately there is usually a victim and I would rather people’s efforts were placed on bringing offenders to justice than getting some sort of titillation by uploading it to a film-sharing website.”
  • Our photograph shows a still from one of the YouTube video postings.

Eviction threat for Quaywest over two years of unpaid rent

WEST Somerset radio station Quaywest 102.4 FM could be evicted from its harbourside studios in Watchet for failing to pay rent on the building.
The station, owned by Darlington-based Laser Broadcasting, has not paid its landlord, West Somerset Council, for the past two years.
The rent was fixed at a nominal £50 a week by the council while the station’s East Wharf location was to be redeveloped, with Quaywest assured of being re-homed once the new development was completed.
But Laser has not paid the council since 2006 and now the authority is taking legal action to recover the money which could end with Quaywest’s eviction.
In addition, the radio station is understood to be in arrears with its business rates, while staff are said not to have been paid since July, and its internet presence has been on and off at different times.
The Post reported in April how Quaywest was battling for its future in the face of financial troubles which were afflicting Laser, although the company strongly denied at the time that it was in trouble.
Council corporate information officer Tom Bown said: “Quaywest has not paid the council any rent since 2006, despite efforts to get them to do so and assurances by the station that it would.
“We feel it is not fair this company is expanding on a national level at the expense of the local taxpayers in West Somerset.
“With regret, we have been left no option other than to take legal action.”
Laser Broadcasting owns eight other stations around the country, including a sister Quaywest station in Bridgwater, formerly called BCR FM.
The others are Bath FM, Brunel FM, three Sunshine-branded stations in Ludlow, Hereford and Worcester, and Hereford/Monmouth, Fresh Radio, in the Yorkshire Dales, and 3TR, based in Warminster.
One of the founders of Laser in 2002 was Nigel Reeve, who was the launch sales and marketing director of Classic FM.
Nobody from Laser was available for comment.