Section: Region

When financial services leave, we all lose

Anthea Simmons

You may have seen the summary of the catastrophic impact of Brexit on the principal exports of foodstuffs to the EU. Not pretty at all and terrible news for our domestic producers. Good news for the EU’s growers, farmers and fishers, though. (Not the uniquely Scots’ whisky, of course, but maybe the cut in supply […]

Listen to our debate on the future of the NHS and healthcare

Anthea Simmons

On 24 March, WCB ran the second of a series of Zoom Q&A events on hot political and socio-economic topics. In the wake of the publication of the Government’s white paper on the future of health and social care, the sale of GP practices to a US healthcare provider, privatisation of test and trace, the […]

The South West joins mass action on climate emergency

Rosie Haworth Booth

Further to the piece on 3 March by Tom Scott on Katharine Lewis and the Helston Climate Action Group, Rosie Haworth-Booth from North Devon alerts us to a cross country drive this weekend on bringing a crucial private member’s bill to greater public attention. People living in the UK don’t need to look far to […]

Welcoming prickly visitors

Helen Fairhurst

As nature starts to beckon in the spring, my thoughts turn to welcoming some prickly visitors. Each year I’m hopeful that I might see the return of hedgehogs on my little patch as they awake from hibernation. Sadly, the hedgehog population is in serious decline in the UK. The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report […]

Somerset businesses hit by Brexit: box set

Richard Wilkins

Data published 22 March by UK Food & Drink Federation showed exports of food & drink to the EU from the UK dropped by more than 75 per cent in January. There was a 40 per cent decline in exports overall, and business leaders are saying that this is almost entirely due to Brexit. A […]

G stands for greenwash?

Tom Scott

As Cornwall prepares to host the G7 summit, destruction of the natural environment by the Carbis Bay Hotel is not a good look. Environmental campaigners in Cornwall have been expressing horror at the decision by the Carbis Bay Hotel – where G7 leaders will be convening in June – to destroy a swathe of coastal […]

Right to protest, not right to riot

Editor-in-chief

UPDATE: On 21 March, police claimed that two officers had sustained fairly serious injuries, including broken ribs and a punctured lung. This was untrue. On 21 March, in the early evening, we put out this report on the peaceful protest in Bristol. Within a few hours, it looked wildly anachronistic – very, very sadly. The […]

Time to call out the hate that dare not speak its name

Rosemary Schonfeld and Simon Chater

Politicians and opinion leaders must speak out on the benefits of immigration if Britain is to have any chance of regaining its rightful place at the heart of Europe. Elephant in the room As James Carville didn’t quite say during Bill Clinton’s 1992 US presidential campaign, “It’s immigration, stupid”. That’s the issue that drove the […]

Walking for health

Barbara Leonard

Just over a year ago I was one of small group of volunteer walk leaders sharing thoughts about a new virus being talked about on the news in the UK. Some of us had just returned from visits abroad where warnings about Covid 19 and measures to limit its spread were already happening, in sharp […]

Priti Patel marches in where Michael Howard feared to tread

Rachel Marshall

Editor’s comment: The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill may have been quietly pushed aside for the moment, no doubt waiting for the furore to die down, but it is very unlikely that the crackdown on dissent is off Patel’s agenda at all. Rachel Marshall reminds us of events almost two decades ago… There is […]

Protest to save our right to protest

Sadie Parker

On the day Priti Patel’s pretty awful 296-page Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts (PCSC) Bill was due back in Parliament, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse, a long-time Johnson collaborator and former Deputy Mayor under him, was sent out to do the morning talkies. The PCSC Bill covers many topics, but the scope of Kit’s interview with […]

The Brexit classic car crash

Mike Zollo

“We were lied to by the UK government implying that we had an FTA but actually giving us a no-deal.” Never mind its obsession with removing our freedom of movement, the Government has driven us into Brexit: a classic car crash! Like so many other areas of economic activity in the UK, particularly SMEs (Small […]

Our democracy sustains another fearful blow

Anthea Simmons

This is a dark day for our democracy. The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right. If the pernicious Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has just passed its second reading, becomes law, Patel and the police will be able to decide that a procession or assembly would give rise to the […]

No-show Mangnall fails to engage with democracy

Laurie Taylor

Our MP’s empty chair was part of the focus of an online, public meeting on the evening of Thursday 11 March, held by Totnes Make Votes Matter (MVM), to discuss voting reform for parliamentary elections to Westminster. “Make Votes Matter”, a national cross-party campaign group, organised a mass lobby of MPs all over the country, to propose a change of the voting system […]

Puppy lust: the rise in heartbreaking pet theft

Sadie Parker

Imagine having a pair of dogs for company. They’re your everything, now that your spouse has passed on. Between walks they like a frolic in the garden. One day you let them out as you put the wash on and potter in your utility room. When you finish a short while later, you call out […]

Debunking Covid-19 myths: part 4 – taking a look at testing

Emma Monk

One of the areas where I keep coming across a lot of misinformation relates to testing ‒polymerase chain reaction (PCR), lateral flow tests (LFT), false positives, false negatives, and whether the inventor of PCR really said PCR shouldn’t be used to test for Covid-19! It is easy to get confused by the different molecular biology […]

The Third Gentleman of Swanage

Valery Collins

During the nineteenth century the fortunes of Swanage were dictated by a trio known as the Three Gentlemen of Swanage. Two of them, John Mowlem and George Burt developed the Purbeck stone trade, contributing to the fabric of the town as their business prospered and grew. It was the third, philanthropist William Morton Pitt, who […]

The right to peaceful protest must not be undermined

Anthea Simmons

Did you take part in any of the anti-Brexit, pro-final say/People’s Vote marches in 2017/2018 or 2019? If you did, you will know what astonishingly well-mannered, convivial affairs they were (whether that was a good thing or not is another matter). Hundreds of thousands of people travelled up to London on coaches that left the […]

Stop using the ‘B’ word? Not me.

Kathryn Fox

Haven’t most of us, at some time in our lives, been told to stop using bad language? The government even went so far as to tell its ministers not to use the B word –  Brexit – that is. It’s been nearly five years. The Deal is done.  We should just make a go of […]

‘Woke wars’: let’s hear it for the National Trust’s long history of radicalism

Tom Scott

When the National Trust was founded, it wasn’t just ‘woke’ – it was revolutionary. Yesterday, the National Trust published an interactive online map that shows how climate change threatens the countryside, coastline and historic houses in its care – including many sites in the South West. Extreme heat and humidity, coastal erosion, landslides, floods and […]

School funding crisis in Somerset will mean closures and redundancies

Editor-in-chief

Somerset County Council shows no signs of changing course on school closures and staff redundancies in Somerset  Plans for wholesale changes to schools in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area came to Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee this week (Wednesday 3 March), prior to the Council’s Cabinet making a final decision on […]

Plymouth and South Devon freeport: letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Reading a tweet by South Devon MP Gary Streeter lavishing praise on Johnny Mercer’s lobbying for sealing the deal for a freeport in Plymouth, I was struck that perhaps he was giving the game away: that while there is much work undertaken by council staff, regional development specialists and key industry partners in the technical […]

“Shoddy little deal” and shoddy big lies

Daniel Lambert

Editor: Once again we are pleased to share Daniel’s insights with those not on Twitter. I think what disturbs us (amongst so many things so to do) is that ministers are lying about their consultations with industries, claiming to have support when they don’t, claiming to be working with those affected when they aren’t. Prentis […]

Will Mangnall be empty-chaired?

Laurie Taylor

Laurie Taylor of Make Votes Matter in Totnes : Our local Make Votes Matter (MVM) group has been working hard to develop something in the place of the ‘lobby’ about Electoral Reform which Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall (AM) has refused to have with us. We have decided on a different zoom event where we will […]

Trading the orchard for an apple

Sadie Parker

Department for International Trade (DIT) tweets are easy to distinguish from those of other government departments by their exuberant use of emojis. “Good to speak to my counterparts from across the EEA EFTA states about our live negotiations on a new trade deal,” tweeted junior trade minister Ranil Jayawardena after the meeting on February 25th. […]

Paddock politics: why racing gets a leg up

Rachel Marshall

From the Cheltenham super-spreader festival, to the heroic hosting of vaccination centres, to fellow-jockeys Hancock and Harding overseeing Track and Trace, the connections between the worlds of horse racing and politics run deep. Let’s take a look at the runners and riders: Sport of Kings Horse racing is a hugely valuable industry with estimates putting […]