Thursday, 2 April 2009

Cabinet considers funding boost for Minehead EYE

PLANS for Minehead EYE - a place young people in West Somerset can call their own - could take a step forward next week.
West Somerset Council’s cabinet is meeting to look at agreeing a partnership deal which would be worth nearly £250,000 to the project.
The new multi-million pounds facility will be aimed at youngsters aged 13 to19 years and will feature a two-storey skate and BMX park with a viewing gallery overlooking the 6,000 sq ft facility.
It will also have a recording studio and DJ booth, a multi-media suite with rehearsal space, a computer area, an exhibition area with an art-graffiti wall, a café, and a shop.
A report being put to cabinet members on Wednesday, April 8, proposes removing a requirement for capital receipts to be received prior to funding the project.
It also recommends the cabinet to hand over the balance of a grant for the project amounting to more than £239,000.
The council has already given Minehead EYE more than £6,000 funding.
The concept of Minehead EYE originated about 10 years ago but was recently fast-tracked through the Government’s myplace programme and last year secured more than £3.2 million of Big Lottery funding.
It is one of 21 projects awarded funding to provide world-class facilities across England which work to create safe places for young people to go, where they can become involved in a wide range of exciting activities and obtain information and advice from people they trust.
  • Our image shows an artist's impression of how the Minehead EYE could look. Image submitted.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

New tourism partnership could boost local economy

A NEW tourism industry partnership to promote West Somerset and Greater Exmoor is to be considered by West Somerset Council cabinet members next week.
They will be asked to work with potential partners to establish the form of any partnership before a further report comes back to cabinet later in the year.
If the cabinet agrees at its meeting on April 8, then council executive director Adrian Dyer and tourism portfolio holder Councillor Michael Downes will start the partnership ball rolling.
The partners could include the Exmoor Tourist Association (ETA), Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) and Active Exmoor.
The mix of private and public sector organisations have been working together to see if pooling resources and co-ordinating tourism services could underpin and enhance this important area of the West Somerset economy.
The idea of the new partnership evolved following the disbanding of Visit Exmoor in 2007, which came after disagreements between its numerous partners undermined its effectiveness.
Since then, the council has supported tourism through event co-ordination, providing a new Visitor Information Centre on Minehead seafront, and funding the district’s tourism guide Exmoor Coast and Country, which was produced in partnership with the ETA.
Active Exmoor, which is also part-funded by the council, has developed outdoor activities for visitors and the ENPA through its management plan and is committed to sustainable tourism projects to develop and enhance the visitor experience.
Now, through ‘a coming together of minds’, the group will explore what each partner can bring to the table by way of resource and/or money to deliver four essential tourism themes:
  • Marketing the area to attract visitors
  • Providing information on accommodation options
  • Letting visitors know what activities are available
  • Maintaining a good product by looking after and enhancing the local environment
Cabinet members will also consider approving the proposed partnership’s aim, which is to develop the area as a leading tourism destination based on providing a sustainable, quality experience for visitors which will, in turn, support and enhance the economy.
The partnership’s objectives will also be considered.
These include increasing visitor numbers and the duration of stays, ensuring the area is a leader in sustainable tourism, encouraging professional standards and consulting with the private and public sectors and local people.
Deciding resource and financial contributions, and the operation of a viable and professional partnership to achieve a vibrant industry are also seen as key objectives in delivering successful tourism services.
Councillor Downes, who will present the report next week, said: “I think this targeted, objective approach is very timely as the local economy needs all the support it can get at the moment.
“The recently approved economic strategy singled out tourism as an important sector to develop in order to underpin the local economy.
“The priorities and aims of the strategy dovetail with the propositions in the report.
“The input of private sector organisations such as the ETA, which is a very constructive and proactive partner, along with public sector commitment is important in making sure the visitor experience is enhanced so that people keep coming back to the area for holidays.
“In these uncertain economic times, I feel it is an excellent opportunity to combine the skills and knowledge of committed private and public sector agencies in a firm partnership.
“The partnership will consult with other local tourism operators to consolidate the area’s position as a quality tourism destination, and will be a key strength in leading this sector in future economic growth for the benefit of all local people.”

Council honours amateur photographers of the year

WINNERS of Westlabb’s West Somerset Amateur Digital Photographer of the Year 2008 have received their prizes at a presentation ceremony held in the district council chamber, in Williton.
They were welcomed by council chairman Councillor Eddie May, and were praised by the competition’s organisers and sponsors, Westlabb Ltd, and West Somerset councillors.
The competition was supported by West Somerset Council and Somerset County Council.
Westlabb director Jon Summers said: “I am delighted at the response to the competition.
“It was hard to choose the winners out of many excellent entries.
“The photographers took some amazing pictures and I would like to thank everybody who took part.”
The overall title of Amateur Photographer of the Year went to Philip Sanderson for his image of a kite surfer in Minehead Bay, which won the senior ‘Favourite Landscape/Seascape’ category.
Mr Sanderson said: “I was very surprised but really happy to win. I had been out kite surfing with a friend when I took the picture of him.
“I enjoy photography as a hobby so I wll definitely be entering again this year.”
The title of Junior Amateur Photographer of the Year was awarded to Daisy Maddison, aged 17.
Her picture, ‘My granddad, Clifford, on Blue Anchor Beach prawning with his dog, Scrumpy’, won the junior ‘Favourite Landscape/Seascape category.
Daisy, who has finished her A-level examinations and is heading off to Newport University to study for a degree in documentary photography, said: “The picture is like my granddad through and through - he enjoys fishing and prawning on the beach, so I am pleased to have the picture of him doing what he loves.
“I would really like to thank my mum for driving me to all my photography classes at Bridgwater College.”
Category winner for ‘Promoting Your Local Business’ was Terry Aldred for his image of Chris Cracker’s Junk Shop, in Carhampton.
Shirley Turner won the ‘Your Favourite Event/Village’ category with a picture taken in Dunster of the Tour of Britain cycle race.
Bob Druitt, also a Westlabb director, said: “We had great fun setting the competition up and we have enjoyed seeing the marvellous results.
“However, we are now handing the competition over to West Somerset Council to run in future years.
“We hope it will grow in popularity and that local people will continue to give it their full support because the images submitted are fantastic, and really show the range and depth of local talent.
“I would also like to thank local press photographer Steve Guscott for helping us to judge the competition.”
Councillor Michael Downes, the council’s tourism portfolio holder, said: “I would like to thank Westlabb for setting up the competition and we are delighted to be taking on such a successful project.
“We have started some new categories and we are looking forward to the competition.”
To view the winning photographs or to find out about this year’s competition, go to
Anybody who is interested in entering the competition but feels they need to learn more about digital photography, can attend a Bridgwater College IT course held in its skills centre in Minehead, as well as on its main campus.
Courses include ICT for beginners to advanced, including digital cameras and enhancing photo courses. For more information call 01643 707008.
Digital photography courses are also available at the Exmoor Community Computer Centre, in Winsford.
More information can be obtained by calling the ECCC on 01643 851594, or from Somerset Skills and Learning by calling 01643 702986.
  • Our photograph taken at the awards ceremony shows (left to right) back - Carole Murphy, Aisha Knight, Phil Brown, Bob Druitt, Jon Summers, Nick Hosegood, Stephen Paul, and Angela Lamplough. Front - Councillor Michael Downes, Philip Sanderson, Terry Aldridge, and Daisy Maddison. Photo submitted.

Gas Safety Register ID now required for gas repairs

A CHANGE in the law affecting homes and businesses with plans to have gas appliances serviced, upgraded, or installed, is being highlighted by West Somerset Council
From tomorrow, the Government is introducing the Gas Safe Register to replace the familiar CORGI gas registration system.
The Gas Safe Register is the official industry stamp for gas safety under the new scheme which is overseen by the Health and Safety Executive, the organisation responsible for regulating gas safety in Great Britain.
The council’s housing portfolio holder, Councillor Kate Kravis, said: “The Government has changed the legislation, and from April 1 anybody carrying out gas work within the scope of the regulations must be on the Gas Safe Register.
“The new law states that if somebody other than a Gas Safe registered engineer undertakes regulated gas work in your home, you could be risking the safety of your family and your property.
“Many contractors now registered with Gas Safe may not have had the chance to update their vans and literature, which may still display the CORGI symbol.
“However, public safety is paramount and we urge people to make certain by asking engineers to show their new Gas Safe identity badges.”
The new register will provide enhanced levels of service and clearly written rules of registration.
There will also be new services and benefits designed to improve the registration scheme and promote gas safety.
Gas Safe registered engineers are listed at or details can be found by calling 0800 408 550.
West Somerset building control manager Jayne Hall said: “Building control is all about ensuring public safety in homes, offices, and other buildings.
“It is important that people know about this change in legislation and contact Gas Safe if necessary.
“If you are considering any building or renovation work on a property, West Somerset’s building control team would be happy to advise you on any aspects that may need building control regulations.
“Initial advice is free and can save homeowners problems later on, especially when coming to sell.”