Section: Region

The ballast of Swanage

Valery Collins
Wellington Clock Tower, Swanage. Deep blue sea, blue sky, cliffs in the background

To many, Swanage is a traditional, old-fashioned English seaside town, a place to wander along the sea front enjoying the murmur of the waves. Some may notice the old tram tracks embedded in the concrete and ponder their significance as they pause on the Stone Quay. Purbeck Stone Brings Prosperity to Swanage During the 1830s […]

Pinching pupil premium – the Williamson war on poor kids continues…

Andy Jolley

Short thread on how DfE sneaked out a £250 million cut to school budgets in the middle of a pandemic and how it will impact the poorest and most vulnerable pupils. No publicity, no great public announcement as @educationgovuk cut a quarter of a billion pounds from its Pupil Premium budget. Pupil Premium (PP) is […]

Government gaslighting just stepped up a gear

Sadie Parker

No doubt you’ve seen the news that, unlike some of the other car manufacturers, Nissan has decided to stay in the UK. Phew! There must have been a collective sigh of relief in Sunderland that was so loud, it made the wings of the Angel of the North flap 13 miles away in Gateshead. Surely […]

No balm for business

Richard Wilkins

Until 1 January the full impact of Brexit on the UK its people and businesses was an unknown quantity. You could say it was a promise, a hope… even a mirage. Brexit could be anything you wanted because the details were not known. Indeed, even the broad outlines remained unclear as the government continued to […]

WCB online event: This Good Earth Q&A, 11 Feb, 8pm

Anthea Simmons

West Country Voices is delighted to invite you to a special Q&A event following the release of Robert Golden’s powerful and elegiac film – This Good Earth. The film’s director, Robert Golden will be joined by Professor Timothy Lang, Professor of Food Policy, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London and Simon Holland, farmer […]

The anti-democracy and not-so-Unionist party

Sadie Parker
Johnson claiming no Brexit trade barriers

As democracy has been trampled under a tsunami of lies, scams and evasion of scrutiny this month, perhaps the Conservative and Unionist Party needs a new name? I’ll go first: the Anti-Democracy and not-so-Unionist Party. Here’s why… Boris Johnson can’t stop lying. To dismiss that with an exclamation of, “oh, but all politicians lie,” is […]

Is the penny dropping that Brexit means Brexit?

Anthea Simmons

Aww! Bless June Mummery for spotting that leaving the EU meant no more attendance of the meetings, but really! Poor LibDem Caroline Voaden, who like the other non Brexit-cultist MEPs, including Conservative Dr Charles Tannock, Labour’s Clare Moody and the Green’s Molly Scott Cato, tried frantically to explain what Brexit would do to fishing. We […]

Fishermen! Your government is insulting you!

Anthea Simmons

You might want to watch this. This is the contempt in which this government holds you. The very same contempt it shows the hauliers, the NHS, the small businesses, the entrepreneurs who have been excluded, the exporters, the farmers…you name it. Watch this and see how you are treated. Is a one word answer to […]

The return of decency

Sadie Parker

I hadn’t meant to cry, but I couldn’t help myself. There were so many moments to pull on the heartstrings. Watching newly-promoted Eugene Goodman, the officer who had held off a braying mob just long enough to allow senators to escape from the Capitol only two weeks before, accompany Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris to her swearing […]

“It’s not MY fault”: the fishy blame game

Julian Andrews

The “whiffy-fish-to-the-EU” disaster story just goes on and on, doesn’t it? Or maybe that should read “no-fish-to-the-EU”. Most people must know now that those involved in fishing are angry – very angry – that their valuable seafood is not getting to customers in the EU on time, if at all. Many boats are laid up, […]

Winter gardening for wildlife: part 1 – feed the birds!

Anna Andrews

Continuing her series on gardening for wildlife, Anna Andrews looks at how to attract birds to your garden Ok, I know it’s not really ‘gardening’, but probably the best and most immediate way to help wildlife is to feed the birds, and virtually any outdoor space can be used whether you have a garden, a […]

On digging a great hole

Canon Robin Murch

They say revenge is sweet even if it comes after many years. My happy day of revenge will come on Friday 22 January 2021. It has been a  long time coming – in fact, from 1956. In those days I was a young National Serviceman in the infantry and with others, we had to dig […]

Five local MPs back ‘Stop genocide trade’ amendment

Sadie Parker

In an otherwise disappointing round of voting on Lords’ Amendments (LAs) to the Trade Bill, during which Tory MPs yet again voted en masse to weaken parliamentary oversight of trade deals, there was one bright spot. Lords Amendment Number Three to force the UK to withdraw from bilateral trade agreements with any country the High […]

Long Covid kids

Sammie McFarland

A year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all become armchair experts. It’s hard to remember a time when it was new and we had so little information about what to expect if we were unlucky enough to catch it. A few key messages emerged early in the first lockdown in March. […]

Tory Trumpism is turning the UK into a sewer of fake news

Sadie Parker

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared anyone campaigning for free school meals during the February half-term-break to the Trumpist insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol. He did so in a WhatsApp message sent to all Tory MPs at lunchtime on Sunday 17 January, explaining why he was whipping them to abstain from voting for or against […]

The UK’s drug policy failure. Lessons from Portugal

Paul Delaney

We must consider alternatives to criminalisation and incarceration of people who use drugs, and focus criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply. We should increase the focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as on economic, social and cultural strategies. –Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General, on World Day Against Drugs, 26 […]

Rewilding comes to a Devon valley

Simon Chater

Local environmental charities are working to increase Devon’s tree populations. Simon Chater was delighted to take part. For nearly 40 years I’ve lived in an old farmhouse in one of the loveliest spots in the South West – the valley of the Holy Brook, a tributary of the Dart. A livestock farmer sold me the […]

Future prospects blighted by the pandemic – a student writes

Bella Enoizi

The impact of Covid-19 on university students has been overlooked by both government and the media throughout the pandemic. Neither has support been received from the governing bodies of Higher Education institutions, in terms of either policy or financial relief. Where students have been mentioned by the media, it has only been to blame them […]

Bugs, bees and banned toxins

Milly James

There seems to be quite an upset brewing, understandably, over the government allowing the use of neonicotinoids in the UK after reports like “Government to let farmers use bee-killing pesticide banned by EU”  appeared in the press and across social media from environmentalists and the concerned public. The current reporting on the renewed use of […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 2 – birth of the human soul

Simon Chater

There’s no original sin in Dante’s account of human spirituality. The soul is born of joy and seeks to return to a state of joy. In my first three tasting notes I’m going to skip about, dipping once only into each canticle – Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Then, if you’d like more, you can come […]

Hey, Anthony Mangnall MP! Are you spreading dangerous fake news?

Anthea Simmons

As MP for Totnes, your constituency includes the fishing town of Brixham, where some of the most valuable catches of shellfish are landed and exported to the EU. The fishermen there must be as angry about the Brexit deal as those up the coast in West Bay. Or the guys in Scotland, who are going […]

Fish – it used to be so easy…

Julian Andrews

Mention “Samways” to locals around the west Dorset town of Bridport and they’re most likely to tell you simply, “they’ve got that fish shop at West Bay”. They’re right about the fish shop, but Samways are a lot more than that. Clifford Samways started selling fish from a wooden barrow in West Bay in 1961 […]

Brexit trade problems: what’s gone wrong and can it be fixed?

Billy Melo Araujo

Billy Melo Araujo, Queen’s University Belfast Queues of lorries at borders and empty supermarket shelves confirm what most already knew: the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has increased trade barriers between the EU and the UK. So what problems are arising, and can anything be done to improve them? 1. Rules of origin Upon […]

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Britain’s Tartuffe

Sadie Parker
Jacob Rees Mogg appearig to pray, with further image of him sporting devil's horns in background

When I was at university in the US, a pre-med student, thinking that all Europeans were into high culture, decided to take me to the opera to impress me. That was a night of firsts: our first date, our first opera and our first encounter with the unforgettable character of Tartuffe. I say ‘our’ first […]

The banned and binned sarnie – Brexit means Brexit

Anthea Simmons

There’s no way around it, I am afraid. Brexit ‘succeeded’ because it was based on a toxic combo of eye-watering lies and staggering ignorance – most of which is still on display in the government right now. Hamsandwichgate is a classic example of (wilful) ignorance. We left the EU. We are now a third country. […]