Tag Archives: recent

Half a million more

The Taunton Garden Town project has been granted a further £550,000 from Central Government today. The money will support Taunton Deane Borough Council’s ambition to deliver 15,000 homes. The new funds are on top of £1.135m already granted to help work up the proposals.

Work has already got underway on approximately 2,300 properties. The new homes are planned across three major sites that form a ring around Taunton at Comeytrow, Staplegrove and Monkton Heathfield.

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP in announcing the grant noted “We have not built enough homes in this country for the last three decades, and we are turning that around as we work towards our target to build

The funding will be administered by Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator.

New parking “scam” in Taunton

Recently Taunton Deane Borough Council introduced a new very expensive parking system. The bigger car parks in central Taunton are controlled by barriers. Electronic road side signs as you drive into the town show you which car parks have most spaces.

So far so good.

If you don’t mind the £1.2m the Council paid for the fancy new electronics.

We decided to check out how the scheme was working at Canon Street. For all the technology, the one thing that TDBC didn’t think to do, was to tell people how much it would cost to park. It is usual, if not actually mandatory for all car parks controlled by barriers to display a list of parking charges at the entrance before you go through the barrier into the car park.

That way the customer can make a judgement as to whether they wish to park or not. Not in Taunton. There is a sign displaying car park charges. It is tucked away at the very back of the car park by the footpath to St Mary Magdelene Church.

So unless you are a regular user, there is no way of knowing how much you will pay until after you have committed to parking in the car park.

It may not be illegal – though we are still looking into that, but it is most certainly immoral and way below the standards you would expect from a local authority.

Incident in Street

Avon & Somerset police are appealing for witnesses following an incident of criminal damage in Street. Once again it is unfortunate that the Police are appealing for information two weeks after the incident took place.

Nevertheless the facts are as follows:

At around about 12.30pm on Sunday 27th January the victim was in his car, a Peugot, being followed by another, a Ford Fusion, driven by the suspect. The suspect’s car overtook the victim in High Street (near to Garston Road) and stopped in front of the victim’s car blocking his progress.

Both the driver and the passenger in the suspect’s car got out of the vehicle and approached the victim’s car and kicked the doors. They also shouted and made threats to the victim.

The Police are keen to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident, who may have information to help our enquiries. If you have any information which could help, please contact them through http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact, or by calling 101, quoting reference 5219019231

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or report it on-line using the following link bit.ly/1pwX4Zm quoting the above reference number.


As we reported yesterday, Somerset County Council debated reversing the decision to cut back on gritting the road network. this followed chaos on the roads after just two days of snow at the end of January.

The Cabinet of the Council duly agreed to reverse the decision. No doubt it will be raised again at Full Council next Wednesday (20th February).

LibDem Councillor Mike Rigby continues to ask for answers on the question of why roads that apparently had been gritted, still had major problems.

Appeal to trace 16-year-old Luke Mulcahy, missing from Stoke-sub-Hamdon

Avon & Somerset Police are appealing to the public  for help to find a 16-year-old boy missing from Stoke-sub-Hamdon who disappeared two weeks ago. His family are concerned for his wellbeing.

Luke Mulcahy left after a family disagreement just before 7pm on Friday 18 January.

He’s white, about 5ft 9ins tall and slim with straight blond hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a black padded jacket, khaki bottoms and black trainers and took some clothes with him.


Officers believe Luke has been ‘sofa surfing’ and want to hear from anyone he has stayed with. He’s thought to have travelled by bus between Stoke sub Hamdon, Yeovil, Montacute and Langport.

Luke has been in touch with relatives and friends since going missing. However he doesn’t have a mobile phone.

If you know where Luke is now, call 999 immediately. If you have any other information which could help officers trace him, ring 101, quoting reference 5219012008.

Bridgwater rape – appeal

Avon & Somerset Police have just released a new CCTV image of a man they want to talk in connection with an ongoing rape inquiry. The original incident took place in Bridgwater on New year’s Day.

The assault took place between 4.45am and 5.20am when a woman was walking home from a night out. She was attacked by a man, not far from the Malt Shovel Pub on Wembdon Road where it joins North Road and Victoria Road.

Police describe the man as being aged in his 40s, with a bald or shaved head, wearing jeans and a large white hooded jacket which appears to have a distinctive large number seven printed on the front. Detectives are keen to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time, especially if they were driving and may have dashcam footage available.

Meanwhile the victim is being fully supported and given access to any help she may need.

Bridgwater rape CCTV

Anyone who recognises him, or who has any other information which could help, is asked to get in touch through www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact, or by calling 101, quoting reference 5219000407.

Kingsbury forklift incident

Avon & Somerset Police have just confirmed that they have arrested two men in connection with an incident involving a forklift which left a third man in critical condition. The victim, a 26-year-old man is believed to have fallen from the vehicle as it was driven along Folly Road in Kingsbury Episcopi at around 4pm yesterday (Sunday). The exact facts are far from clear, Police have suggested that a yellow Caterpillar Telehandler they believe to have been stolen was being driven in convoy with another vehicle. The man sustained life threatening injuries and remains in hospital.

Police have arrested a 49-year-old man on suspicion of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and theft of a motor vehicle and a 27-year-old man on suspicion of drink driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and theft of a motor vehicle.

Both have been released under investigation while further enquiries take place.

Can you help? The Police are keen to speak to anyone who saw the forklift driving in the Martock area on Sunday afternoon, particularly between the areas of Kingsbury Episcopi and Coat.

If you witnessed the incident, or have information which could help the Police, please call 101 and provide the call handler with the reference 5219014045.

More people in Middle Street, Yeovil

You may recall from previous articles in The Leveller® that South Somerset District Council has been working on plans to pedestrianise and upgrade parts of the centre of Yeovil. Initially the idea was that Middle Street between the current pedestrian zone and the junction with the High Street would be a pedestrian zone for shopping hours only with time before and after for lorries and vans to be able to deliver to businesses. This includes WH Smith which is likely to become the home of Yeovil Post Office if the review of the Crown Post Office underway at the moment recommends closure (as it is widely expected to do)

However Somerset County Council have stepped in and dictated that it is all or nothing. Because Middle Street is not on a bus route “it would not be possible to use enforcement cameras to restrict vehicle movement at certain times of the day and therefore completely shutting the route to all traffic would be safer.”

Which sounds like good news for shoppers, but what do businesses think. Bearing in mind the confusion that has surrounded Taunton Deane’s efforts at consulting with business and the public over similar issues, we take SSDC at their word until proven otherwise. They claim that they have consulted with all impacted businesses and the feedback they have is that they don’t mind “We’ve reconsulted with businesses that will be affected by the complete removal of all traffic to Middle Street and the general feeling that has come back to us is that they will make it work because they see the benefits that pedestrianising the area will bring.”

It is certainly true that if the top of Middle Street is pedestrianised then those businesses stand to gain from more footfall. Even if it does make restocking their shelves a bit of a logistical nightmare.

However there is still a process to go through. SSDC have submitted a new Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to remove all traffic from the top of Middle Street at all times of day. That goes in to Somerset County Council and in due course will hopefully be approved. But don’t expect an answer for a few months yet!

County Councillor “defects” to LibDems

Independent County Councillor for Bishops Lydeard (more properly Lydeard Division) announced today he is to join the LibDem group on Somerset County Council. I am not quite sure if defect is the right term. Can you defect from being an Independent?

Without taking anything away from the LibDems (or any other political party on Somerset County Council) this is a sad loss. Cllr Rigby provided a firm, intelligent, non-partisan voice in the Council Chamber. Sometimes it looked like the lone voice crying in the wilderness. To lose that independent voice will surely be to the detriment of the council as a whole.

However Cllr Rigby has clearly weighed up the pros and cons. He says “I have reached the position where some of the things I want to achieve for our community can best be delivered as a member of a major political group.” And as he decided the LibDems were pretty closely aligned to his own views, in particular on Brexit, he has joined them.

Massive loan to SSDC Opium

South Somerset District Council is making a loan to SSDC Opium Power Ltd of £1,351,649.84. The decision was made by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Council Leader and Portfolio Holder for Property, Climate Change and Income Generation. That decision now has to be ratified by the South Somerset District Executive on Thursday.

SSDC Opium Power Ltd is the joint venture company set up when SSDC granted a contract to Opium Power to build a battery park for energy storage. It is 50:50 owned between SSDC and Opium.

As we reported at the time, Opium Power was a shell company with no track record and no substantial assets.

Now it appears that between SSDC and Opium there has been a misunderstanding of the VAT rules on importing the batteries from China.

The company has been advised by the shipping handlers and transporters importing the batteries that VAT is initially payable on the 18 battery storage containers. The containers cannot be released until the VAT is paid.

SSDC Opium Power Ltd believe they can reclaim the VAT on the containers at least by the end of March.

SSDC are now stuck. Of course the joint venture company has tried to find alternative sources of finance. But given that Opium was a shell company, unsurprisingly the only funding available came with conditions where “the security terms are unacceptable to SSDC

So now SSDC is putting up the money itself.

And SSDC have got a letter from their accountants who “have provided a statement to support the requirement of this loan for short term VAT cashflow requirements.”

It would be nice if they had also obtained a letter from the same accountants to reassure the council that the VAT could indeed be reclaimed the following month. But they do not appear to have done that.

The loan is being offered by SSDC on proper commercial terms, at 5.25% interest, which is certainly a tick in the box for the deal.

The question that SSDC have not asked themselves is how on earth did those involved in the contract not know something as basic as the VAT treatment on the only major asset required for the project?

And now taxpayers are being asked to loan over £1.3m to cover that lack of basic knowledge.


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