Category Archives: Uncategorized

indecent exposure in Chard

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a case of indecent exposure last Friday 4th October.

A 20-year-old woman was walking along a footpath near Tesco in Crewkerne Road at about 12.30pm when she saw a man on a bike. He stopped and indecently exposed himself to her and then followed her for a short distance before riding off.

The man is described as white, with short black hair, mid-twenties, around 5ft 6ins, and was wearing a zip-up hooded top and blue jeans.

If you recognise this description, or have information which would help the Police identify this man, please call them on 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5219230102. You can also report information on our website here: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact-us/

Fatal collision near Wellington

A car and a lorry collided on the A38 on the hill near the Beamnbridge Inn outside Wellington. The incident happened at around 1pm and it appears that the car went under the lorry.

Sadly the male driver of the car suffered serious injuries and sadly died shortly afterwards. The lorry driver was taken to the Musgrove Park Hospital – his injuries are not believed to be life changing or life threatening. The road is now open but was shut yesterday afternoon to allow an examination by collision investigators. to allow an examination by collision investigators.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to the incident to come forward. Were you travelling along the A38 around the time of the incident?  Were you in a car in the area with a dash cam working at the time. If you are able to help, please contact the Police quoting call card number 0445 of the 8th  October.

Pow claims £450m

Taunton MP, Rebecca Pow claimed yesterday that £450m has been set aside in funding for Musgrove Hospital. No-one can deny the hospital would benefit from the money and an upgrade.

The actual announcement of new hospital funding made by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary seems to contain numbers that are rather different from those quoted by Ms Pow. Is there a magic money tree next to the ginkgo tree at the front of the hospital?

The announcement is of £2.7bn of funding to upgrade 6 hospitals. Whilst the list does not include Musgrove, it does include Whipps Cross, Epsom and St Helier, West Herts, Princess Alexandria, University Hospital Leicester and Leeds Teaching Hospital.

The Health Secretary also announced a list of 21 hospital trusts which would share in £100m of seed funding. Musgrove Hospital is included in that list. The money would only be provided after 2025 and is intended to start building programmes in the hope of attracting fun ding from other sources.

However nowhere in the Health Secretary’s numbers is there any suggestion of a figure of £450m. Where this figure came from is as of now a mystery. But we are happy to invite the MP for Taunton to provide us with further detail.

Taunton Flat closed

A flat in Taunton that Police claim is linked to County Lines drug offending is to be closed. The flat within Ladysmith House, Crescent Way Taunton will be closed for 3 months. This follows an order at Taunton magistrates Court made last Thursday, 3rd October.

The closure application made by the Police and supported by Sanctuary Housing followed a number of incidents at the flat. The Police claimed that suspicious activity had been taking place relating to the use and supply of drugs. There were instances of disturbances, anti-social behaviour and on one occasion, a woman was chased down a corridor by a man wielding a knife.

Avon & Somerset Police’s ASB co-ordinator Cerwyn Pritchard told us “this order sends a clear message that drug misuse and all forms of anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated…”

Council hedges bets on Brewhouse

Somerset West and Taunton Council have committed one more year of funding to the Brewhouse Theatre. After a sustained campaign and a petition that has gathered over 2,000 signatures, the Brewhouse have been looking to secure their future.

With original staged theatre increasingly rare in Somerset, the Brewhouse is one of the last theatres to commit to regular theatrical performance. A meeting of the Council tomorrow evening was originally due to discuss the future of the Thatre.

Instead this afternoon SW&T released a statement as follows:

Somerset West and Taunton has confirmed its continued financial support for a key member of Taunton’s artistic and cultural life. The Council will continue to fund the Brewhouse Theatre’s £132,000 a year subsidy, as well as paying to maintain the building.

Cllr Benet Allen, portfolio holder for Culture said “Having a theatre and performance space in the centre of Taunton is important. We’ve made sure the Brewhouse will continue to get the same level of funding as it does it now. The Theatre has asked for additional £1.2m over five years, but at this time, a request for such a large sum can only be approved after we’ve looked at the needs of the community right across the council area.

However the future of theatre in Tainton remains under threat. No one can doubt that the council will do something but that hinges on the Firepool question. The council are still looking at their options. Firepool may yet get a massive stadium for sport and performance. But that will be next to useless for theatre. It is highly debatable as to whether it will draw major acts away from Cardiff and Bristol, but that is another matter.

And anyone who doubts that a theatre might not be the priority with the possibility of a massive vanity project next door, should read the rest of the SW&T statement:

No-one can question our commitment to the arts, but with so many competing financial priorities we are having to make a number of tough decisions. To redevelop the current site would cost council tax-payers tens of millions of pounds on top of the subsidy. While we wouldn’t rule anything out at this early stage, it’s important people understand the size of the sums involved and why decisions like this need time and careful consideration.”

It will be interesting if money if not available for a theatre, to see if it is available for a stadium. Time will tell.

Woeful broadband says survey

The Leveller has written many articles about the failure of Connecting Devon and Somerset to deliver adequate broadband to Somerset. Our research is based around information supplied by the House of Commons Library. There is a further article in our October edition which will be available next week.

In the meantime the Somerset Chamber of Commerce have been doing their own research in conjunction with Truespeed. Asking for feedback from their members, the Chamber of Commerce wanted to know how broadband provision (or lack of it) was impacting local business. Interesting the survey prompted a quarter of their members to respond (this is a very high percentage for a survey response).

The findings accord pretty much with the work done by The Leveller.

Half of the respondents to Somerset Chamber of Commerce’s broadband survey said their poor internet connections were already restricting their businesses – almost 10% said they had no broadband coverage at all, with some firms in Mendip and West Somerset relying on 4G and those in South Somerset turning to satellite provision.

Coverage across the county was patchy and unreliable with 42% of businesses who responded not having a fibre connection. Half experienced daily or weekly drop-outs in their service.

Stephen Henagulph, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber, told us  “It’s clear the current coverage across Somerset is not robust enough to support the growth and development of businesses.

And it is worth reminding ourselves that around £100m of public money has been put into the CDS project. What we have exposed, and this report clearly highlights, is  a poor return for that investment.

Heavy response to Fire consultation

The Devon & somerset Fire and Rescue Service have postponed announcing the results of their consultation. Called “Safer Together” the controversial proposals involved cutting back the number of fire engines across Somerset.

The response to the consultation has overwhelming. And The Leveller understands mostly negative.

During the 12-week consultation, the Service received about 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions, and five petitions. All responses are being independently analysed by Opinion Research Services (ORS) who will provide the Authority with the findings from the consultation.

Because of this, the Authority meeting to review the results of the consultation and decide upon the future of the service, which was due to take place in early November, is now scheduled for Wednesday 18th December.

A cynic might conclude the service are planning to sneak the results out just before Christmas. A very cynical person might think this was because the plans will go ahead in despite the view expressed in the consultation. But happily we don’t have any cynics at Leveller Towers.

Car hits pedestrians in Yeovil

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses after an incident in Yeovil yesterday (Friday 4th October).

At around 6.25pm a  car collided with a number of pedestrians on Hendford Hill. The car was a dark coloured 4×4 vehicle. The driver of the vehicle, a man in his 70s, initially failed to stop at the scene before returning later. He was arrested and remains in police custody.

A teenage boy sustained a minor head injury and was taken hospital for treatment while the other pedestrians, thankfully, only sustained cuts and bruises.

The Police are asking for witnesses to come forward, especially anyone who might have dashcam footage of the incident. They are keen to speak to anyone who saw the incident and can offer evidence of the way the car was driven.

If you can help, please phone 101 and provide the call handler with the reference 5219230092.

Another LibDem win

After a win in the Vivary by-election 2 weeks ago, the LibDems have added another by-election win. This time in the Norton Fitzwarren and Staplegrove ward following the death of independent councillor Jean Adkins.*

Former Conservative Cabinet member of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Andy Sully fought the seat of Vivary in the May council elections, coming fourth and losing his council seat. He defected to the LibDems shortly after the elections.

Standing for his new party, this time in the ward of Norton Fitzwarren and Staplegrove he won the seat on a turnout of 25%.

Andy Sully (LibDem) 686 votes

Rod Williams (Cons) 493

Alan Debenham (Green) 67

Michael McGuffie (Lab) 31

 

 

*Please accept our apologies for the error in our original report.

 

 

More woes for Frome’s Steiner

In November last year we reported that the Steiner Academy, Frome was put into special measures. This followed an Inadequate grading by Ofsted inspectors.

Now a new report by Ofsted has been published. It follows a monitoring review in September. The conclusion has two black marks against the school and they are these:

  • Leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.
  • The trust’s statement of action is not fit for purpose.

This is not exactly good news. On the plus side the inspector’s agreed that “The school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose.”  That much is a relief but it is clear that all is not well in the view of the Inspectors.

The report notes that “There has been significant turbulence in the staffing and leadership of the school, including governance, since the school was deemed to require special measures in November 2018.”

Leadership at the school has been described as “dysfunctional” and perhaps most alarmingly “Additional funding for disadvantaged pupils continues to be spent inappropriately. For example, funding has been allocated to the administration of the school and not for the pupils.”

And the final word from the Inspectors suggests that the use of external influence to help improve things has not gone well either “The support provided by Bridgwater College has not been sufficiently effective. Interim school leaders have not been provided with the support and guidance required to tackle the significant areas needed to improve the quality of education pupils receive. Consequently, the pace of improvement has been far too slow.”

There has been a new head brought in but she had only been in post for five days at the date of the inspection. She clearly has a few challenging months ahead of her…..

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