Category Archives: featured

Accident at Kingweston

A man has been airlifted to hospital following a three car collision at 9.30 this morning, 8th December. The collision happened on the B3153, the road between Somerton and Lydford on the Fosse near Kingweston. Fire and ambulance crews attended, alongside police.

The driver of one of the vehicles was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries. His passenger, a woman, was taken to Yeovil District Hospital. Her injuries are serious but are not believed to be life-threatening. The other people involved were described by police as ‘walking wounded’.

Officers arrested a man in his 30s at the scene after he failed a roadside breath test.

The B3153 was closed between Christian’s Cross and Kingweston in both directions while collision investigators examine the scene. It will remain closed until the vehicles have been recovered.

However we understand that Reynalds Way from Kingweston towards Street and Butleigh is open so local traffic can detour around the accident scene.

Meanwhile Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses. Anyone who witnessed the collision or has any information which could help the investigation is asked to get in touch, quoting reference 5218271601.

Bogus police officer scam in Chard

Avon & Somerset Police are asking the public to be alert in the Chard area. After four reports of senior citizens being conned out of cash over the past two weeks, officers are working with local banks to raise awareness.

Their enquiries continue.

If you have any information which could help the police investigation, please get in touch through www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact, or by calling 101, quoting reference 5218270138.

I’m afraid this is a well established fraud. Victims are contacted by individuals claiming to be officers from the Metropolitan Police investigating a fraud. They are then asked to withdraw cash after being told their bank details have been used to make purchases in London. The scammers collect the money, claiming it is needed as “evidence”.

Sergeant Ashley Jones, of the Senior Citizen Liaison Team told us “These fraudsters have been telling people not to tell anyone about their call. Genuine police officers will want you to have the support of your family, friends or bank staff in such a case.”

Police would like your help. If you know someone who is frail or vulnerable, keep an eye out for them. If you have the chance please talk to them and share information about how these criminals work and warn them that they are working in the area. The Police have provided information about fraudsters and scams at www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you think you have been defrauded you can report it by calling 0300 123 2050 or online via https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

Apply online apply in time

Somerset County Council are appealing to parents across the county whose children need school places next September. This effects three groups of children:

  • Children who are due to start school for the first time,
  • Those moving from Infants to Juniors
  • Those moving from First to Middle schools

If your child is in one of those three groups then you have until 15th January to get your application in. SCC is not surprisingly trying to persuade everyone to use computers and apply online.

What SCC seem to have forgotten, is that many of the less well off families in the county will not have access to a computer. That access is made worse for those in Highbridge and the Sunningdale area of Yeovil as the local library is closing.

So those whose children arguably have the greatest need, will find themselves at the back of the queue. Paper options are of course available, but you are then at the mercy of the Christmas post. You have to have a sense of humour here. SCC in their wisdom tell us that the paper forms can be requested by calling Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224 or downloaded from the website. Perhaps it might occur to SCC that those most likely to need paper forms are those who cannot access the website. Still if you call them SCC will post you the forms and you can post them back.

Hopefully that will ensure your application will make it by the 15th January deadline.

Confirmation of places will be sent by email on 16 April.

However anyone using paper application forms will receive their confirmation of places by post which will arrive several days later than the emails sent to those who have applied online. Just to make sure you understand what a second class citizen you are.

Let’s end with some better news though. Of the 5,665 children starting school in 2018, 93.8 per cent of received their first choice primary school, a slight increase on previous years. 98.4 per cent of children were given one of their top three choices.

So if you need paper, start early and you’ll still have a good chance of getting your child the school of your choice.

Shining a Light

Some seasonal initiatives are being rolled out this week in Taunton to help rough sleeps. We often rail on these pages against fatuous and perverse “Days” and “Weeks” but Shine a Light week is different. It aims to address the health and wellbeing issues faced by the street homeless.

And for once it looks as if it is backed up by real action. Rough sleepers will be able to find food and shelter at the night café in Canon Street Church being run by volunteers from a number of Taunton churches brought together through the ROC Taunton Deane initiative, from 9pm to 7am.

A mobile clinic manned by triage nurses from Musgrove Park Hospital and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is stationed in the car park next door providing free health checks and medical treatment for minor problems. The mobile clinic has been provided by South Western Ambulance Service and Paramedics volunteering their time to support the initiative.

Rough sleepers at the night café will also be able to take away a care pack provided by the Taunton homelessness charity ARC. Meanwhile Taunton Deane Borough Council’s housing options team will also be ensuring that rough sleepers are aware of the help available to find accommodation and access benefits and support.

And each day a Social Worker from Somerset County Council’s social services team working together with a Community Psychiatric Nurse will offer individual appointments for longer term help and guidance on a range of topics including mental health and education.

What a great initiative. It begs three questions:

What is being done in other large towns around Somerset?

Why do we only get to hear about the initiative on Wednesday of the week it is being run in?

And most important, why is it just one week. Shouldn’t we be doing things like this throughout the year?

County lines dismantled

Avon & Somerset Police have announced this morning that they believe they have dismantled a county-lines style drugs operation in Yeovil. This follows information provided by the public and a two and a half year operation. Nine people have already been sentenced to a total of over 24 years in prison. A tenth will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court in February.

The drug-dealing operation imported cocaine and heroin from London into Yeovil. The gang used the homes of drug users and other vulnerable people as bases to deal from.

Investigating officer DC Paul Cobb explained “This has been a lengthy and complex investigation into drug-dealing in Yeovil which would not have been possible without the help and support of the local community, who made the initial reports and provided us with further information and images. We’re pleased this county lines operation has been dismantled and we’ve been able to thwart the supply of class A drugs into Yeovil.”

The following people have been convicted:

 

Mohammed Yussuf, 20, of Hackney in London – jailed for three years and nine months

Jack Doherty, 21, of no fixed address but from London – jailed for five years and three months for conspiracy

Serkan Ozcan, 21, of Hackney in London – convicted of conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and due to be sentenced in February.

Rushwan Richards, 20, of Enfield in London – given an 18-month suspended prison sentence

James McGuinness, 23, of Ilminster – jailed for six years and three months

Daniel Hockley, 34, of Mere, Wiltshire – jailed for 30

Maxine McCullough, 41, of Crewkerne – given an eight-month suspended sentence

Sarah Semple-Lauchlan, 33, of no fixed address but from Yeovil – jailed for three years and six

Layla Webb, 35, of Stapleton, Bristol – given a nine-month suspended jail sentence

Jonathan Bell, 48, formerly of The Cross, Ilminster – given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work

County Council stoops to new low

The few members left in the public gallery by the time we got to Item 9 on the agenda were ashamed. Horrified perhaps. It is sometimes hard to believe the evidence of your own eyes.

A simple motion at the Somerset County Council meeting in support of 40 Commando and their association with the town of Taunton should not have been controversial. Surely everyone could get behind that? The motion was proposed by Simon Coles, a LibDem councillor, seconded by Alan Wedderkopp, another LibDem. It merely asked SCC to resolve to oppose the closure of the 40 Commando camp (scheduled for 2028); that the Leader of the Council write to the Secretary of State to express opposition to the plans and to write to Somerset MPs and lobby them for support too.

What could possibly be objected to? Well predominantly it seemed the fact that it was put forward by two LibDem councillors. Almost immediately a Conservative Councillor, Guiseppi Fraschini proposed a counter motion. This seemed to have a lot of similar words but specifically referenced the MP for Taunton Deane. Otherwise it added nothing,

The meeting then dissolved into a lot of political point scoring. It was hideous to behold. I want my resolution, not your resolution. I won’t vote for yours unless you vote for mine.

Eventually a councillor with a shred of decency, a former military man himself, Andy Kendall called it for what it was. He told the meeting “it is really shameful the way this has been turned into a political football”. Sentiments immediately echoed by Independent Councillor John Hunt. Perhaps the motion could be postponed so all political leaders could come up with a wording all could agree on?

However shame is something SCC members appear to have limitless supplies of and decency appeared to be in a tiny minority. Councillor Fraschini persisted in asking for his motion to be put.

But if you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Councillor David Huxtable managed to leverage proceedings to a new low. Now the Conservatives knew they would have their motion put and there were a majority of Conservative Councillors in the chamber. So Cllr Huxtable asked for a named vote.

This, for those who are unfamiliar, is a device to get every councillor’s vote on the record. So knowing that the Conservatives had a majority for their motion, Cllr Huxtable’s move was as blatantly political as it could be. The truth is by trying to force opposition members to vote against the Conservative motion, they would then be on the record for not supporting 40 Commando. Given that the LibDem opposition had introduced the original motion, I think readers can draw their own conclusions.

Needless to say and in the spirit in which this whole issue was discussed, Cllr Huxtable insisted his move was not a political one.

In other news we have recently learned that the pope is not a Catholic. And that bears do not go to the toilet in the woods.

By the time the meeting moved on to a vote, there were four motions all to be voted on by a named vote. The Conservatives got their wording passed and the other motions rejected. The vast majority of councillors voted exactly along party lines.

What was at stake? Nothing trivial. The future of 40 Commando, the contribution they make to Taunton’s economy, supporting schools and to the community at large. These men and women, our serving armed forces, their wives, husbands and families are human beings. County Councillors turned them, their futures and the future of the base near Taunton into a cheap political football in the most shaming and embarrassing way.

In the end it seems only right to point out the tiny handful of councillors who actually acted with their conscience.

Believe it or not a small number broke with party lines to put the interests of 40 Commando ahead of political expediency. Councillors Rigby, Kendall, Redman, Ruddle and Vijeh each went against their party on at least one of the four votes whilst the two Greens, Cllrs Dimery and Clarke, voted for the final Conservative motion.

The fact that a motion was passed in support of 40 Commando should be a matter of communal pride. Somerset County Councillors contrived to make it a deeply embarrassing and shameful experience. Our armed forces deserve better than this.