Category Archives: featured

Sexeys takeover hits snag

As we reported on Monday, Lisa Mannell is not happy to leave Sexeys School in Bruton as a stand alone school. The South West Regional School’s Commissioner (RSC) wanted to get a Multi Academy Trust in Sherborne, Dorset to take it over.

In a statement issued today the head of Sherborne Area Schools’ Trust  (SAST) made it clear that they were no longer interested in pursuing the takeover.

The statement concludes “At this time, it is evident that there is not an alignment of values or partnership working with Sexey’s. Therefore, the Trust will continue to focus on our current schools and others interested in joining in the future, who do share our
values. We thank the Headteacher and her colleagues who have sought to be professional and respectful during this process.

This is not the end of the plans for a takeover however.

The Leveller understands that Lisa Mannell is still intent on forcing the school into a multi academy trust. However she is now forced to find a new one willing to take on the challenge. Maybe the next one will actually be based in Somerset?

The outrage felt by many, that the process was deeply flawed, allowing insufficient time for a meaningful consultation. After an initial letter to parents dated 7th October inviting them to a meeting  to reveal the plans, Ms Mannell intended to allow just 14 days for the whole process before a final decision was made on 21st October at the SW Head Teacher Board.

That process was been challenged by parents who have written to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education and local MP David Warburton who has met Mr Williamson to put the concerns of the community to him.

In the meantime Bruton Town Council will hold a meeting tonight at the Community Hall (at 7.45pm) to discuss the situation at Sexeys School. The intention is to take on board the concerns of the community and formalise a Town Council position on the takeover.

LibDems lose two in South Somerset

To misquote Oscar, to lose one serving councillor might be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

The Leveller understands that both of the councillors for Martock, Louise Clarke and Neil Bloomfield have resigned today from the LibDem benches at South Somerset District Council. Both will now serve as Independent councillors.

As the 2019 election produced a LibDem majority of 22 on the council, this will not change the overall balance of power, but it will be a concern to the administration to lose two high profile councillors on the same day.

In his letter of resignation Mr Bloomfield expresses some frustration with the way business is being conducted in South Somerset:

I moved to the Liberal Democrat group on SSDC under the then leader Ric Pallister. I had always been impressed by what I saw from across the chamber. Since the change of leadership I have quite frankly cringed more often than I care to remember. Whilst not relevant here, this is not a singular view.

Recently I have become more concerned about the manner in which planning, probably the greatest public concern we deal with, moving into a rather shadowy place, secret meetings, warnings not to disclose decisions and attempts made to “convince” cllrs to do the “right” thing. This just adds to the perception that planning is not above board, certainly this is the feeling in my Ward.

Then there are national issues to consider. Liberal means to be respect or understand the views of others different to your own. This does not align with the decision to reverse Article 50 without even going to the membership. In National Democracy Week I find there is a distinct lack of democracy in parts of the Liberal Democrat party. Much applause is heard when an MP or Cllr comes across, more interested perhaps in saving their own skins than taking a principled position. Is it any wonder politicians are ridiculed.

There is a democratic deficit in the party and it’s more evident in SSDC. I fight hard for those I represent but am not supported, in fact in some cases quite the opposite. When officers seem to be in control rather than the administration then something is clearly wrong. Worse than a poor leadership is poor leadership which thinks its in charge and doing a good job. I have little if any confidence in the current leader of SSDC, the transformation program is so far behind, we can barely answer the phones, our local service is getting worse, we are borrowing massive sums to buy property around the country with no prior scrutiny by the elected council. “Putting residents first” is my election mantra, is my firm belief and what I do. It’s easy to say but it’s clearly not a reality for some.

Whilst I do not direct this at all in the party, in general terms I do not feel wanted or even welcome and therefore resign from the Liberal Democrat Party with immediate effect.


Cllr Neil Bloomfield, Martock Ward

Missing girl, Bridgwater

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing to the public for help to trace a vulnerable 16-year- old girl missing from her Bridgwater home.

Emma Slamaker (pictured) was last seen near the town’s Prezzo at 6.30pm on Monday 14 October. She is described as white, about 5ft 1in tall, of small build, with long brown hair. When last seen she was wearing black tracksuit bottoms, a black hooded jacket and black trainers with pink NIKE trainers. She may appear distressed.

Emma knows the Blake Gardens and the Bower areas of Bridgwater.

Emma SlamakerIf you know where she is now call 999 straight away. If you have any other information which could help to find her ring 101 reference 5219238281


Indecent assault in Bridgwater

Avon & Somerset Police are asking for your help to identify a man believed to be from the Bridgwater area.  Police want to speak to him in connection with an assault at a property in King George Avenue in Bridgwater.

The assault took place on two separate occasions when on 17 and 20 August this year the male victim was touched inappropriately.

Have you seen the man pictured? Police believe he may have information to help our enquiries into the incidents.

assault 5219191803

They would like the man, or anyone recognising him, to contact them on 101, quoting reference 5219191803

Yeovil fire – suspicious

A fire at a house in Blenheim Road, Yeovil last Friday (11th October is being treated as suspicious.

The fire started just before 4 in the morning and the occupants of the house  suffered the effects of smoke inhalation. The front door to the property was badly damaged by the fire.

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses. If anyone was in the area at the time who saw anything that looked out of place, or someone acting suspiciously, they’d like to hear from you.

Please call 101  quoting the reference 5219235354

Parents furious at school takeover

Sexeys School in Bruton is to be taken over. Under plans drawn up recently and following a consultation that to all intents and purposes lasted barely 3 working days, the school is to become part of a multi Academy Trust based in Dorset.

At least that is the path that the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West, Lisa Mannell would like to tread.

Furious at a process one described as a “process lacking transparency, probity or empirical evidence” parents started a petition against the takeover. As of last night it has already received 997 signatures.

The parents were first notified in a letter dated 7th October from the Sherborne Area Schools Trust (the school which leads the Trust scheduled to take over Sexeys) which included the letter from the Regional Schools Commissioner outlining the proposals.

That invited parents to a meeting at Sexeys on the 9th October.

This in turn kicked off a consultation process that is due to end this morning, the 14th October. On any objective assessment that is not adequate for a proper and transparent consultation process.

On the 10th October, the day after the school meeting some parents contacted the Town Council asking for them to step in.

Other parents have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson. Some to local MP David Warburton. Mr Warburton told us he would be meeting with the Secretary of State today (14th October) to discuss the issue.

We approached the chair of Bruton Town Council, Ewan Jones to ask what the Town Council thought. Mr Jones explained an extraordinary meeting of the Town Council had been called for this Wednesday, 16th October at 8pm. This will give the public chance to express their views, and the Town Council the chance to formalise their own corporate view.

At issue is the fact that under the current timetable, after a minimal period of consultation, a final decision is due to be taken (by the SW Head Teacher Board) on 21st October.

That more than anything else is what has upset people. They feel railroaded and that due process has not been followed.

Protest group comes to Taunton

Extinction Rebellion is to launch a protest in the centre of Taunton, tomorrow, 12th October. In an act designed to support the International Rebellion, the group will lead a funeral procession through the centre of Taunton.

The procession will start at 12:00 in the High Street, Taunton. Those participating will be in full mourning regalia and the procession will include pall-bearers and a coffin. It follows a similar protest held earlier in the year in Glastonbury which drew large crowds and gained a fair amount of media coverage.

The funeral procession has three main aims:

  • To highlight the continuing climate crisis and the destruction of our ecosystems. The coffin represents all species forever lost to Mother Earth and all those species that remain under threat.
  • To show solidarity with our friends, colleagues and family members protesting in London.
  • To engage with the people of Taunton on the subject of the Climate Crisis.

After the procession, mourners will read a series of eulogies to Mother Earth, during which members of the procession will bring forward items representing those species lost or threatened.