Category: Somerset

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I saw the monster but couldn’t see the point

Mick Fletcher

On a cold, dull and windy day I went to Weston to see the monster. At a distance it looked disappointingly small, dwarfed by miles of empty sand and sea, but as I walked along the beach it grew until its full scale was apparent. So, too, was its oddity. The monster – a repurposed […]

Fysh swims against the tide

Mick Fletcher

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh is clearly not afraid of adopting controversial positions. Last Christmas, for example, he was widely criticised for comparing the idea of vaccine passports to living in Nazi Germany. In June 2020 he was ordered to apologise for “patronising conduct” towards the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. Now, in comments that say more about […]

The miracle of cider

Mick Fletcher

We didn’t plant the orchard just for fruit. In some ways the wildlife interest and impact on the landscape were more important. We wanted proper trees, full standards on non-dwarfing rootstock. We wanted trees that would outlive us and probably our children as well, growing tall and hanging heavy with mistletoe, becoming crusted with lichen […]

Why are you prioritising profits over people, Mr Rees-Mogg?

Editor-in-chief
Jacob Rees-Mogg

As a Yeovil resident and writing in a personal capacity rather than as a county councillor, Oliver Patrick has asked his MP Marcus Fysh to forward a letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg – the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In the letter Oliver says he has “grave concerns” over the way […]

The mysterious glow

Mick Fletcher

At around 9.30pm, on a warm summer evening in late July, some 40 residents of Westbury-sub-Mendip converged on the centre of the village and waited for it to get dark. They were taking part in the annual glow-worm count that has been carried out at about this time for the last 17 years. A small […]

Two years of telling it like it is.

Editor-in-chief

Wow! It’s our second birthday on 23 July. We started out as West Country Bylines and now we’ve completed nearly 7 months as West Country Voices and all thanks to the same great team of editors and proof readers, excellent writers – some new, some longstanding contributors – and a growing band of loyal readers […]

Wildlife, wilderness and the English landscape

Mick Fletcher

The contrast was dramatic and instructive. Only a day after walking around the deer park at Petworth House, I took a footpath through the grounds of Knepp Castle, a pioneering ‘rewilding’ project in the heart of Sussex. The two estates are less than half an hour apart by car, but a world apart in terms […]

Ghost gear: meet the heroes cleaning up our ocean’s frontline

Kristy Westlake

With our oceans quickly filling up with plastic and fish stocks dwindling, it’s time to start talking about the massive whale in the room: ghost gear. An enormous environmental problem caused by commercial fishing and fuelled by our ever-growing appetite for seafood. Kristy Westlake talks to some of the heroes on the ocean’s frontline and […]

Lib Dem landslide in Somerset – a sign of things to come?

Mick Fletcher

One fact shows the sheer scale of the Conservative defeat in the elections for the new Somerset County Council. The 61 Liberal Democrat councillors elected to the new unitary authority will form the largest group from that party on any elected assembly in the UK. Only the House of Lords – not of course an […]

Fire service cuts: Ashburton area protection downgraded and more to follow

Tony Morris

Fire Authority stealth cuts put lives and property at risk, argues Tony Morris. Just a couple of years after Ashburton residents successfully fought to save their fire station, the Conservative controlled fire & rescue authority has stabbed them in the back. In a secret move, Ashburton’s properly equipped fire engine has been removed and replaced […]

The man behind Operation Mincemeat

Mick Fletcher

The film ‘Operation Mincemeat’ released over the Easter weekend, tells the exciting story of a key event in the second World War. The Germans were tricked into thinking that an attack on Europe from North Africa would start in Greece rather than the more obvious route through Sicily. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper called it “The most […]

Energy prices – what’s going on? Letter to David Warburton MP

Editor-in-chief
wind farm

Dear Mr Warburton, I am writing to you – with copies to local news outlets – about the recent large rise in gas and electricity prices. I am old enough to remember the oil crisis of the mid-1970s. During that period the government brought in a number of energy-saving measures; these included banning the heating of […]

From Frome to the front line

Richard Paul-Jones
Polish currency

“We don’t need stuff, we need cash” says the Mayor of Rabka Frome has a direct link to the war in Ukraine – and a way for you to help Ukrainians fleeing from the terror. Frome is twinned with three European towns. It is a four-way twinning, with representatives of three towns each visiting the fourth on […]

Raise your voice!

Mick Fletcher

At West Country Voices we like to tell the stories that others in the media don’t. Often, these stories concern issues that the powerful and well-connected are keen to suppress; they involve holding policymakers to account or exposing abuse of office. Recent stories have focused on the threats to our democratic rights and freedoms. They […]

The property price boom that helps the few, not the many

Mick Fletcher
Stags estate agent sign

In 2021 the average price of houses in Taunton increased by 21 per cent: the highest rate of increase in the country. It is a sign of how utterly dysfunctional our housing market has become that this was announced as good news. According to the Daily Mail, for example, “while it was good news for […]

“First homes, not second homes!” MP Luke Pollard is on a mission

Anthea Simmons

Housing. It’s in crisis across the UK but nowhere is that crisis more acute than in the south-west, battered by the perfect storm of beauty, inequality and wealth. It’s not as if we don’t know what damage second, holiday and empty homes do to a community. There’s enough research out there, let alone the daily […]

Starting a tree nursery

Buffy Fletcher
new tree nursery

It started with a throwaway remark. At an early, virtual meeting of the Westbury Sub Mendip parish tree group someone wondered aloud about whether it might be possible to start a tree nursery. One member left the Zoom call and returned after five minutes. He had consulted his wife and they were happy for us […]

The dutiful and the despotic: a tale of two generations

Dr Pam Jarvis

This would be a powerful piece on any day of publication but coinciding as it does with the anniversary of that law-breaking party in Downing Street and the very day that author Dr Pam Jarvis’s brother died it has additional heft and poignancy. My mother, who died in February, was born into a generation raised […]

Small victories matter

Mick Fletcher

One of our aims at West Country Voices is to stand up for the rights of citizens against the abuse of power, whether by government or private interests. In recent weeks we have sought to spell out the threats to democracy enshrined in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, highlighted the demonisation of migrants […]

A dangerous dowry for the new Somerset unitary authority

Mick Fletcher

The prospects for the new unitary authority recently imposed on Somerset are not good. Like local government everywhere, the county is having to cope with a dysfunctional funding system and a decade of austerity. It will soon have to cope with the extra costs of reorganisation, estimated at over £16m. On top of this, however, […]