Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yeovil man Jailed for burglary

A man appeared before Taunton Crown Court on Tuesday (27 July) charged with burglary. Daniel Vaughan, 42, of West Hendford, Yeovil was arrested by Operation Remedy officers earlier this year. He was charged in connection with a burglary at a residential address in Avon Close, Yeovil. He was also charged with attempting to gain access to a property in Percy Road, Yeovil on Friday 2 April.

Vaughan admitted to two further dwelling burglaries, a theft from a vehicle and a shoplifting offence. Both were taken into account in sentencing.

He was sentenced to 876 days in custody.

For Avon & Somerset Police, Jim Card expressed satisfaction with the result. “Vaughan is a prolific offender whose crimes have had a profound impact on his victims. I welcome the sentencing decision and am grateful to the victims for their support in achieving a prosecution.”

Vaccination centre to move to Haynes

At the end of this week the large vaccination site at the Bath and West Showground is on the move. The Somerset COVID vaccination programme’s large vaccination site is moving to the Haynes Motor Museum. The Museum is to the north east of Sparkford on the A359 (just off the A303).

The last booked jabs to be offered at the Bath and West, will take place on Sunday 1 August. Walk-ins for anyone aged over 18 will also continue to be offered until 6pm on Sunday. As will planned vaccinations for first and second dose AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

The Haynes Motor Museum site already hosts a successful vaccination clinic. Led by the South Somerset East Rural PCN that team will continue to offer weekend slots. The vaccination team from the Bath and West site will run additional vaccination clinics at Sparkford. These will be Monday to Friday: 8.30am – 5.30pm starting from Thursday 5 August.

People will be able to continue to pre-book appointments for first and second dose Pfizer. This can be done through the National Booking Service. Or you can just walk-in, Monday – Friday during opening hours. Second doses can be given eight weeks from the first dose.

To check which weekend walk-in clinics are available please visit: https://www.somersetccg.nhs.uk/health/local-services/health-services-during-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations-in-somerset/

Pumping station upgrades on the Levels

Major upgrades to pumping stations on the Somerset levels were announced yesterday. As part of the Government’s £5.2bn flood prevention fund, £3,712,508 of investment has been promised.

Most of the money will go to replace the following pumping stations:

  • Long Load
  • Huish Episcopi
  • Midelney
  • Westover
  • Northmoor

The reminder (£155,000) will be spent on a fish pass (Flights Hole weir) and improving safety (West Moor Reservoir). The funding will be accompanied by a consultation in the autumn, where the Government will look at how to better protect frequently flooded communities, following a call for evidence earlier this year.

Government says it will consider how to strengthen the assessment of local circumstances, such as where areas have flooded on multiple occasions, when allocating funding during the six-year plan.  To some extent Somerset should already be ahead of that game. We have a 20 year flood plan and in the Somerset Rivers Authority, a body routinely revising and updating it.

Local MP for Somerton & Frome, David Warburton, told us “Flooding devastates communities, as we have seen to our great cost across the Somerset Levels in very recent times.  So many homes and families in Somerset have fallen victim to this, and it is crucial that we continue to add to the armoury of protection, in order properly to tackle it and manage our environment, our businesses and homes.

Boosting the design and construction of flood alleviation schemes, while also putting the necessary measures in place to protect homes from flooding and coastal erosion will help to guard homes and families from the devastating impact of flooding, and will allow people to feel reassured about the safety of their home and their livelihoods.”

Latest COVID 19 data for Somerset

This week to 28 July, there were 1,285 new confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Somerset. You’ll have heard commentary throughout the week about case numbers declining nationally. And so it appears the same thing is happening here. There are still hotspots. Crewkerne has a very high rate per 100,000 currently. But Yeovil has just 141 cases this week compared with nearly 300 cases last week. Last week we were looking at predictions of new infections doubling each week. This week we are seeing a near halving of numbers. As ever all it really proves is you cannot draw too many conclusions too quickly.

The table below illustrates the point. It tracks the weekly number of infections in recent weeks.

  • 1,285 to 28 July
  • 2,056 to 21 July
  • 989 to 14 July
  • 470 to 7 July
  • 452 to 1 July
  • 257 to 23 June
  • 110 to 16 June
  • 50 to 9 June
  • 31 to 2 June

Before we go any further however, our usual health warning about the figures.  Unlike NHS data these numbers include care homes and incidences of COVID 19 “at home”. The data is prepared to 28 July for cases (although different dates are used for some of the other figures – for instance deaths are reported to 16 July). The reason for this delay is to keep the numbers accurate – or should we say as accurate as possible. The daily totals published by the NHS are subject to constant revision, as not unreasonably, the data is constantly being updated to improve accuracy. It is also worth noting that the SCC area does not include North Somerset (so Weston hospital) or BANES (So the RUH in Bath) both of which are separate administrative areas.

This week there was a further update on deaths from COVID 19 in our area, to 16 July. And once again we are pleased/relieved to report there have been no new deaths recorded. We should note that total deaths from COVID 19 since the pandemic started has risen from 799 to 802 in the past fortnight. However this is due to looking back at previous figures and correcting them. We understand no new deaths have been recorded in the last 4 weeks. Which remains encouraging. We should be expecting this trend to continue if the vaccine has broken the link between cases and deaths.

We will continue to monitor the figures for deaths each week to see how that is panning out.

The R number (reproduction rate) for the South West this week has been reduced in a range of 1.3 to 1.5. It feels right realistic. It is indicative of the recent fall in case numbers. But whilst still recognizing the potential for them to grow exponentially.

The vaccination programme remains of paramount importance with a focus now on all cohorts aged under 30. This week least 80% of all those over 18 have now had two jabs. That is significant and welcome progress. This leaves the under 18s. Frustratingly it is is not yet clear if, as a matter of policy, all under 18s will be vaccinated or not. A further 155 under 18s have had a vaccination in the last week.

However, as always, we have attached the full data set here so you can draw your own conclusions:

Missing Somerset man found

Avon & Somerset Police have just contacted us to confirm, missing man Ryan from Wellington has been found. Police put out an alert yesterday and asked for the public’s help to find Ryan. There was concern that he might need medical attention.

He has now been found safe and well. Many thanks to everyone who helped by contacting the Police.

Somerset councils ask for help

Last week we reported on how South Somerset District Council’s five year land supply figures had been challenged. A ruling by the Planning Inspectorate took a figure of 6 years to below 4. Which means the authority can no longer show a five year land supply figure. This inevitably will cause issues with planning approvals in South Somerset. The nub of the issue is the excess of phosphates on the Levels. Natural England have made it plain that only developments that are demonstrably phosphate neutral should proceed. This means that many developments that have been approved may not be able to go ahead. This could in turn effect the five year land supply calculations of other councils.

Following a series of questions from The Leveller® to the various Somerset Districts, they released this statement:

Council leaders seek Government help on phosphates

The leaders of all four District Councils and the County Council in Somerset have called on the Government to urgently address water quality issues impacting national sites including the Somerset Levels and Moors, and to work with them to help unlock much needed housing development.

They have written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, saying the issue requires urgent attention if they and other affected authorities are going to be able to help address the national housing crisis.

The letter follows up on one sent in December 2020 which sought Government support following the Natural England advice concerning unacceptable levels of phosphates in the Somerset Levels and Moors RAMSAR site. Natural England have advised the local authorities that they should undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) before determining planning applications that may give rise to additional phosphates in the Levels and Moors catchment.

This requirement to demonstrate that proposed developments will be phosphate neutral has prevented the determination of a significant number of affected planning applications across Somerset, including development sites that would deliver over 11,000 new homes.  Future strategic housing sites and brownfield sites have also been delayed.

The letter warns that the phosphates issue has continuing implications for many affected local authorities to meet local housing needs, to maintain a five-year housing land supply and meet government targets for the delivery of homes.

It requests that the Government works proactively with the Somerset authorities to deliver a clear investment strategy to address water quality issues impacting the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site.

The Somerset authorities have been working in partnership to address the issue using funding support provided by Homes England.  In February 2021 all the Somerset authorities published a phosphate calculator which provides affected applicants with the necessary information to calculate the phosphate load arising from their development.

The authorities have also jointly commissioned consultants to support the delivery of a Somerset-wide Nutrient Strategy, expected to be completed in the Autumn.  However, the leaders say the existing national water quality issues will remain a barrier on housing delivery for several years and requires urgent attention.

They are asking the Government:

  • For publication of the affected local authority areas, the quantum of housing development on hold as a result of Natural England’s advice, and information as to whether water quality issues are affecting other areas in England.
  • A commitment to influence further investment and upgrades in the waste water treatment works to address this national water quality issue.
  • To work proactively with the Somerset authorities to deliver a clear investment strategy to address water quality issues impacting the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site, to help unlock much needed housing development.
  • To make capital funds available to assist the delivery of strategic scale nature-based solutions where the cost of delivery would otherwise negatively impact on much needed developer contributions for social and community infrastructure improvements (i.e. transport improvements and the provision of new education and health facilities) for which no alternative funding source is available.
  • For confirmation that current infrastructure and affordable housing funding programmes in Somerset will not be placed at risk by the phosphates issue and that extensions to spend programmes will be permitted where necessary
  • For confirmation that relevant Government regulators (OFWAT, Environment Agency and Natural England) will be addressing the major contributory polluters responsible for the discharge of nutrients into the water courses that feed into the protected sites in England. 

Concern for missing man

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing for help to find a missing man, Ryan from Wellington. He is aged 27 and described as about 6ft 2ins tall and well-built with brown hair and stubble. He was last seen, at about 10am this morning, Monday 26 July. He was wearing a black hoody and dark-coloured shorts.

Police are concerned about his welfare and that he may need medical treatment. He’s believed to be on foot and may head for parks or the Blackdown Hills.

Please can people using local open spaces, look out for him.

If you know where Ryan is now, call 999 quoting reference 5221169463. If you have any other information about his whereabouts, call 101 and give the same reference

Appeal after Yeovil thefts

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing for the public’s help. They are releasing two CCTV images as part of an investigation into an incident in Yeovil. It involved theft and criminal damage.

Between 6pm and 7.20pm on Sunday, 4 July, offenders broke into a number of business units on Glover Walk. Windows were smashed in some units while one was flooded and a fire was set in another. A number of items were stolen.

Police understand that following the break ins, a group of teenage boys or young men, pushed a tool chest through Yeovil. Investigating officer PC Jim Card said: “We’re keen to speak to anyone who saw an orange and grey tool chest with an RAC logo on being pushed through town as well as anyone who captured any part of the incident on their dash cams.

The damage caused and lost items are extremely frustrating for the business owners. Police say that it’s only through sheer luck the fire set didn’t catch hold and no one was hurt.

Did you see any suspicious activity in the area on the evening of 4 July? Do you recognise either of the CCTV images? Do you know any of the individuals who may have been involved? If you can help, please call 101 and provide the call handler with the reference 5221150565.

PS both men have now been identified by Police so we have removed their images. many thanks to all members of the public who called in with information.

22 years total for Glastonbury assault

Two men have received combined jail sentences totalling more than 20 years at Taunton Crown Court. The sentences were handed down on Wednesday (21 July).

Joseph Parkinson, 24 and Abdirahman Boos, 30 assaulted a teenager in Glastonbury in June last year. Parkinson was at the wheel of a red Honda Civic and Boos was his passenger. The Honda Civic had driven from Street to Glastonbury where it entered Pound Lane. As it did so, the two men saw a teenager and Boos jumped from the vehicle and threatened him with a knife. As the teenager tried to run away he was struck by the Honda Civic with Parkinson at the wheel.

The two men fled the scene leaving the teenager on the ground. The victim, who was 19 at the time, sustained a number of serious injuries. They required medical treatment in hospital. He is continuing to recover from them.

Boos and Parkinson were arrested the same evening in Dorset following a large police search.

Parkinson, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He received a 10-year sentence. Boos admit one count of possession a knife in a public place. He was also found guilty after trial last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. The 30-year-old, of no fixed address, was handed a 12-year sentence.

Speaking for Avon & Somerset Police DC David Sherwood said after the trial: “This was a callous attack by two men and we welcome the significant custodial sentence both of them have received….. “I would like to thank witnesses who came forward as their accounts. They were crucial in putting these two dangerous criminals behind bars.”

Somerset Districts cry foul

Yesterday Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick announced he would back the One Somerset model. This will see one unitary authority replace the four district councils and county council in Somerset. or at least the bit of Somerset formerly run by Somerset County Council.

The reaction from the four district councils to the decision has been defiant. The Leveller® understands that anticipating the decision, plans for a judicial review were already being discussed. That may or may not transpire, but rest assured, it is taxpayers that will pick up the tab.

Among some of the more bizarre claims being made, relates to the way the decision was communicated. In an interview given to Bauer Radio, Duncan McGinty suggested others had been told first. Implying that the district councils had found out from the press.

By which he appears to be referring to articles put out by The Leveller® and BBC at around 7.00pm last night. The District Council statement was put out at 8pm. There is no mystery here. And no favouritism. We subscribe to the government press release service as do the BBC. We received the press release when it was released. As clearly did various people at County Hall. It is not hard to sign up to the press release service, perhaps the districts should give it a go?

In their own statement the districts said  “The Secretary of State is riding roughshod over the people of Somerset who voted 65% to 35% in favour of the Stronger Somerset plan over the other scheme chosen by the Secretary of State.” This will almost certainly form the basis of their judicial review if they go for it. Their statement suggests they are intent on spending more money defending their position. “We are duty bound to represent the interests of our constituents to our fullest ability. “We are duty bound to represent the interests of our constituents to our fullest ability. We will continue to seek to ensure that their voices are heard. There is still chance for Parliament to see sense and force a rethink. We just cannot understand why the wishes of the people of Somerset are being ignored.”  We will continue to seek to ensure that their voices are heard. There is still chance for Parliament to see sense and force a rethink. We just cannot understand why the wishes of the people of Somerset are being ignored.” 

The Leveller® may be seen as biased having campaigned for One Somerset. We make just two observations:

  • Just over 70,000 people voted for the district council solution (Stronger Somerset) in their poll. It was a poll in which one side campaigned and one didn’t. It was neither fair nor democratic. And yet still barely 10% of Somerset’s population chose Stronger Somerset. The districts have said they will “represent the interests of our constituents to our fullest ability.” It is not clear what they will be doing to represent the interests of their 470,000 constituents who did not vote for Stronger Somerset in the poll.
  • In 1974 when the district councils were created, no-one was consulted. Except parliament. Not a murmur then about the voice of the people, the need for polls or referendums. If the Secretary of State goes ahead with his plan, the creation and dissolution of this tier of local government will have been on the same basis.
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