Section: UK

Resistance and hope

Anthea Simmons

First of all, a big thank you to all those who are reading our articles. The response has been fantastic. We’ve only been going for eight days, but already we are amplifying the reach of writers who deserve to be read, voices which need to be heard and issues which must be exposed. It’s great. […]

Somerset powers up!

Richard Wilkins

Somerset powers up as cutting-edge green energy storage scheme gets turned on. South Somerset District Council (SSDC) has proudly turned on the largest council-owned battery storage system in the UK. Located next to a National Grid substation near Taunton, the site – purchased in 2018 – has been transformed, in partnership with local and international […]

Dorset MPs: end of term reports Part II

Sadie Parker

Michael Tomlinson, Conservative MP for Mid-Dorset North Poole (Government Whip). By convention, whips don’t speak in parliamentary debates, and so there are no parliamentary interventions to report on for Michael Tomlinson. His name often appears on motions debated in the House and he frequently acts as a teller in votes. Whips also do not give […]

Test, track and trace in Cornwall: a tangled web

Jane Stevenson

Cornwall has the resources to do effective Covid-19 contact tracing. So why is it not being allowed to do so? Jane Stevenson talks to Councillor Colin Martin, who has been trying to find out. Our national Test, Track and Trace system has come into sharp focus as we come out of lockdown. Boris Johnson’s “world-beating” […]

My tango with Covid-19: a personal account

Lindsay McLeod

We promised you a range of voices and personal experiences. Here, Lindsay McLeod writes about her probable Covid-19 experience. Like many people who’ve had a nasty dose of something mean this last flu season, I’m left wondering if the ‘flu’ that I had was ‘it’. As time passes and ever more information is shared, I […]

End of term reports: Dorset MPs Part 1: a mixed bag…

Sadie Parker

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East (Chair, Defence Committee). Tobias was frequently in the news this session, whether it was being the only Tory MP brave enough to put in an appearance on Good Morning Britain to face a grilling by Piers Morgan, or calling for aid for his beleaguered constituency when 500,000 flocked […]

Government plans to weaken nature protections

Miles King

I’m not much a Zoom enthusiast but the invitation to listen to Defra secretary of state George Eustice give a “major” speech on the environment, via Green Alliance, seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. So, having finally got zoom to work on my computer, I sat and listened to him talk for 15 […]

Order! Order! End of term reports for Devon’s MPs

Dumbledrone

As parliament goes into recess again, how have Devon’s 12 MPs performed since our bleak midwinter election? Dumbledrone buzzes around the county to take a look at which voices are reaching Westminster from Devon. Neil Parish of Tiverton and Honiton continues to make his heaviest contributions in the areas of agriculture and food, and took […]

Vets in lockdown

Dr Kate Stitt

Vets are used to dealing with wriggly and reluctant patients. But as the UK plunged into Covid-19 lockdown in late March, this was among the least of their challenges. Veterinary practices up and down the country have scrambled to find ways to continue to look after their patients. Almost overnight, my whole profession had to […]

Overpriced fish and chips

Catrina Davies

Cornwall’s future, as an increasingly commodified playground for people who choose to have their real lives elsewhere, looks bleak. In the post-coronavirus, climate-emergency world, we have to dream better, argues Catrina Davies. I grew up in Cornwall doing low-pay, low-status jobs and being obediently grateful for tourism. Mining was finished; fishing and farming in decline. […]

Trident for the South West?

Stewart Britten

Britain’s Vanguard submarines, each armed with eight US Trident ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, have been patrolling the seas since 1994. An issue bitterly contested in the 1980s has now, for most of us, sunk beneath our consciousness like…well, a submarine. But will it stay that way? In the 1980s, US ground-launched cruise missiles were […]

Farmers need access to good research and reliable advice

Natalie Bennett

Farming requires a huge number of skills and a vast amount of knowledge, all of which needs to be continually updated and revised as the environment – physical, legislative and market – changes. If you think about what the job description of ‘farmer’ involves, it runs the gamut from pharmacology to mechanical engineering, animal behaviour […]

Blocked by the ‘burdensome estate’

Mick Fletcher

The Strawberry Line is an ambitious project to provide a safe off-road path for cyclists and others, linking the communities along the southern boundary of the Mendip Hills.   It seeks, as far as possible, to follow the track of the old railway line of that name, famous for the boxes of fruit it hauled to […]

Build! Build! Build!

Margaret Ellis

What will our future look like? The government is faced with three major events which will affect our lives for decades to come – the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit, and climate change. A return to what we regarded as normal is neither possible nor (for many) desirable. So it was that the government began to set […]

Museums and galleries in extraordinary times

Virginia Button

As Cornwall’s museums and galleries prepare to reopen, what should be their focus in a post-Covid world? After long months of closure, from 4 July museums and galleries in England have had permission to reopen their doors to visitors. It’s a gradual process, as organisations access their specific health and operational risks, and prepare us […]

Collateral damage: the plight of the excluded

Anthea Simmons

You have not been forgotten. We will not leave you behind. We are all in this together.” So tweeted Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer at 17:56 on 26 May. Sounds nice, huh? What a shame that it isn’t true. Some 3 million taxpayers, at a cautious estimate, feel utterly forgotten, completely left behind and not […]

Lords call for government food strategy to protect food security

Natalie Bennett

On the night of 21 July, some 16 hours into the debate of the 321 amendments to the agriculture bill, with Lords huddled over their laptops in remote parts of the country, you’d have to be a keen political wonk to have still been attached to Parliament TV. But Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick described this part of […]

Forestry rethink needed after barbecue inferno.

Miles King

The ground was bone dry and everything was flowering early. I was up at Poundbury (near Dorchester), checking on an area of wildflower meadow that I’d arranged to have sown. After the incessant downpours of the Autumn and Winter, the rain stopped. Then we had just 60mm of rain across two months. It was yet […]

The bucket list

Anita G

Anita moved from the Netherlands to Cornwall with her family in 2014. They were blissfully happy here. Then the referendum came and her husband was diagnosed with cancer… Young Matt: “I get so angry sometimes. People are so unthinking. They say ’We just don’t want any more newcomers, that’s all. People that are here can […]

Welcome to West Country Voices

Anthea Simmons

Welcome to the first edition of West Country Voices, a new online paper for people in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. Run by volunteers and showcasing local writers, West Country Voices will be scrutinising and calling out those in power, challenging the narrative spun by the mainstream media, and giving a voice to those with […]

Can an apprenticeship guarantee really tackle youth unemployment?

Mick Fletcher

Everybody loves apprenticeships it seems, especially for other people’s children.  This is why, when faced with a problem in education and training, politicians can’t help promising more of them.  But are they really the answer to the looming crisis of youth unemployment? Some appear to think so. Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Education Select […]

Build back better

Belinda Bawden

Do you remember last summer? It was hot all around the world. So hot that alarms were sounding everywhere about the need to act now on climate change. Prince Charles joined scientists in warning of the urgency, suggesting that we had an 18-month window to change our current trajectory. Of course, it’s not just about […]

Barbarians at the gates? The Russia Report and why it matters

Tom Scott

At long last, we can read the Russia Report prepared last year by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). Boris Johnson had gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent this document ever seeing the light of day, and succeeded in blocking its release before the general election in December 2019. Arron Banks of Leave.EU had […]

UK single market white paper: “irony so bitter it makes your eyes bleed”

Anthony Robinson

Only a government as intellectually incoherent as this one could publish in the same week two important documents with absolutely no consistent philosophy underpinning the policy objectives behind them. Worse, the objectives themselves seem diametrically opposed. On Monday, we got the border operating model setting out all the new barriers to trade the government intends to […]

Digital botulism

Tom Scott

If you spend much time on social media – as most of us do these days –  you’ve probably been struck by the number of people who seem to believe things that are not just untrue, but are wildly and extravagantly bonkers. People who think that Bill Gates wishes to inject microchips into the world’s […]