WATCHET PESTICIDE FREE ACTION GROUP

A group of locals have recently started The Watchet Pesticide Free Action Group and set up a Facebook page having discovered that Watchet Town Council was contracting out the spraying of a glyphosate-based weedkiller on the town’s pavements and pathways and in the council-run resident’s car park in West Street where they also rent out allotments.

Ione Harris, who lives in West Street, first noticed plants around the car park dying in 2016 and because the poison had been sprayed within feet of the allotment rented to her by the Town Council she asked what had been used. The council said it was Glyphosate and a complaint was made that such a chemical should not be used next to land rented for the growing of food.

When she noticed again the distortion of the leaves and the death spreading across the car park in late May of this year, and as the full area of dead plants became clear it was even nearer the allotment than the year before, she again made a full complaint to the Council.

PHOTO AT TOP: The car park after the application of weedkiller and (below) some images of it beforehand.

It became apparent over the next couple of weeks that the entire length of West Street had also been poisoned and eventually the resulting death could be seen across the entire town. The Glyphosate had been sprayed up against peoples houses and garden walls near the river basin, the slipway to the beach, the edge of the marina, near the children’s play area on the Memorial Ground, etc and more residents started to lose poppies, daisies and other wild flowers from outside their houses and more voiced their concern at the use of a hazardous chemical without warning and without regard for the safety of their children and pets.

Glyphosate products carry many warnings to stay away while its wet.

Following many complaints made to the Council, this use of weedkiller was discussed at a Council meeting.

A resolution was passed and the Council agreed to remove West Street Car Park bordering the allotments from the contract and to look into alternative methods to use around town.

However, the contract continues for a ‘treatment’ twice yearly and this October the Council’s contractors were again due to spray the pavements and pathways with Glyphosate.

The Watchet Pesticide Free Action Group has been formed by concerned residents to try and end the Town Council’s use of pesticide . They have looked into various alternate methods of controlling unwanted plant growth and is raising awareness of the issue in the local area.

It has been pointed out to the Council that the use of weedkiller does not clear the unwanted plant growth away and that the carcasses of poisoned plants remained across town for many weeks after treatment. That the town looks worse in fact. The group suggest hand weeding would be the best solution in most areas and would enable the cleaning away of any build up of dead plant matter and earth rather than the spraying of pesticide that increases the build up and less desirable, vigorous weeds are more able to set seed.

The group believe that hand weeding (which many residents already do outside their own properties), together with other methods in specific problem areas, could be used and could well work out to be cheaper.

The group also believe that using such a harmful chemical in public places without warning is not good practice and that Watchet could rather be an example to other towns to end the use of pesticides, to be more environmentally friendly, to increase the diversity of flora and fauna and to be more visually pleasing for residents and visitors alike.

The group are aiming for a pesticide-free town and are formulating a plan to actively enhance the bio-diversity of the area by introducing more wild flowers to otherwise unused grass verges and banks. They envisage a wealth of flowers, all native and found within a mile or two of Watchet; a celebration of the beauty of the area in which they live.

Glastonbury has gone pesticide-free and other towns are working towards it.

The group believes this to be an achievable aim and seems the obvious way forward for such a pretty coastal town.

 

 

MINEHEAD TO HOST A MARITIME MILE

Minehead has netted more funding to help revitalise the town. The LEADER funding – EU money allocated to help rural areas – of almost £80,000 has just been announced and means Minehead’s dream of creating a Maritime Mile can be realised.

It will complement the Enterprising Minehead project that has already won substantial funding to make the resort the go-to seaside destination by making the most of its traditional appeal as a seaside resort – but with a twenty-first-century twist.

The aim is to give Minehead the buzz that is needed to bring new visitors in, while retaining the Edwardian charm that keeps holiday-makers returning year after year.

The Maritime Mile initiative will create a new heritage interpretation trail, running the length of the seafront to showcase Minehead’s maritime history, myths and legends. An open-air gallery will be built at the trail’s central point to display images and artefacts from Minehead’s past.

The Maritime Mile walk will link to existing features like the South West Coast Path/England Coast Path and signpost to other points of interest along the seafront that will be included in the new interactive/interpretation signage.

The signs will feature augmented reality technology to make the walk exciting and interactive – and it will link to a new website that will be launched. West Somerset Council will be working with Minehead Museum and Butlins on the materials. Augmented reality uses computer-aided graphics to add an additional layer of information to aid understanding and/or interaction with the physical world around you.

The central area of the seafront trail will incorporate the open-air gallery as a showcase for the trail and will be an attraction in its own right. This is the central gateway to the seafront from The Avenue and West Somerset Railway, and will have real impact.

The gallery will be formed from stone-filled gabion baskets with gallery images of Minehead mounted onto marine plywood. Content for the gallery will depict historic images of the town provided by the local community and the museum. The gallery will also include augmented reality to make it more fun – and informative.

A new state-of-the-art responsive website will also be developed to capitalise on marketing the town as a key destination and will also link to the seafront trail/walk and its innovative technology.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, Lead Member for economic regeneration, said: “This is excellent news for Minehead, and will give an added boost to the exciting projects already being developed to regenerate The Esplanade and give our visitors even more reason to come and enjoy what Minehead has to offer.”

“We will be working hand-in-hand with the community, and our Coastal Community Team to deliver this imaginative and exciting project,” said Cllr Roger Thomas, who chairs the Coastal Communities Team in Minehead.

“Our team of officers has worked incredibly hard to secure funding from a variety of sources so that we can invest in Minehead to benefit the local economy and provide visitors with a fun and informative way of finding out about Minehead’s past.

“We are lucky to have a fascinating history that can be brought to life through harnessing the incredible technology that is available now. “

GOOD CAUSES BENEFIT FROM LOCAL LOTTERY

Local good causes are continuing to benefit from the Somerset West Lottery – a joint enterprise launched by Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils.

Somerset West Lottery payments to good causes in the two districts for £3,728.40 have recently been approved.  This is an increase of £612.90 to local good causes on the previous payment.

Trident Youth & Community Centre and Taunton Town Football Club continue to top the ticket sales and will receive payments of more than £100 each.

Watchet Bowling Club, Compass Disability Services and Home-Start West Somerset are well on their way to 200 ticket sales.

So far, a total of 83 local good causes have registered with seven welcomed last month alone. The number of supporters has risen to more than 750.

It costs £1 per game to play and winners could win up to £25,000 as part of the weekly draw. Each week, the winning numbers are published on the Somerset West Lottery home page:  www.somersetwestlottery.co.uk

Players have a 50 to one chance of winning one of the prizes. From each £1 ticket, 60p goes to local good causes, 20% goes to the prize fund, and the balance meets running costs and VAT.

The lottery management company, Gatherwell, has been appointed to run the scheme.

 

SOLAR-POWERED TOURISM FOR WATCHET: PLEASE VOTE NOW

A funding application to pay for solar panels on the community-led Visitor Centre and Boat Museum in Watchet has been shortlisted, and is now up for public vote.

The project, which is a Marks and Spencer Energy Fund application, is called ‘Solar Powered Tourism’. Solar panels would save money and create income for the building, so freeing up funds to spend on high quality tourism marketing for the town, which would help to boost its economy. Grant-funded solar panels would also help the boat museum to retain its free entry.

To find out more, and to cast your vote, go to: www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/solar-powered-tourism.

The application has been made by Onion Collective, a community interest company in the town who facilitated the creation of the Watchet Visitor Centre in 2016. The building is an extension to the Watchet Boat Museum, which simultaneously underwent refurbishment. This followed consultation with the people of Watchet to determine what local people felt was needed to give the town a stronger future. The response was almost unanimous: a more buoyant local economy, provided in large part by an increase in the tourist offer.

The Visitor Centre building work was carried out thanks to grant funding from a Hinckley Point Community Impact Mitigation fund and the Trust House Charitable Foundation. A local voluntary group, known as the Watchet Community Makers then carried out much of the internal refurbishment of the boat museum, supporting the town and learning skills along the way.

If the application is successful, the panels will be installed at the end of this year. Planning permission has already been granted. The system will be battery ready, which also leaves scope for a future sustainable community business to be run from the building.

The Marks and Spencer Energy Fund is run annually, and provides UK community organisations with an opportunity to win a share of £300,000 to support their renewable energy projects and technologies.

 

WATCHET BOWLING CLUB STARTS TO REALISE ITS DREAM

Watchet’s ambitions to have a state-of-the-art Bowling Club are closer to being realised thanks to a £50,500 grant from a Leisure Fund secured from the Hinkley Point C project which is administered by West Somerset Council.

Watchet Bowling Club is keen to transform its facilities and provide a high-quality community venue for the area and the money will go towards the first phase of the project to replace old garages with a new indoor bowling rink.

The high-achieving club has a real track record: the women players reached the semi-finals of two trophies last season, while the men won the league and also swept the board in county competitions.

A new indoor rink will give the club the space for county-level competitions and make it possible for games to be played simultaneously, rather than have to wait for the one rink to become available.

The club has now gained planning consent for this project and is hoping the community will also support the initiative through the newly launched Somerset West Lottery. The club is one of the local good causes that will benefit from the weekly draws.

Tickets for the lottery are now available to buy and the first weekly draw takes place on 29 Jul, with a top prize of £25,000 on offer and a two-night stay in The Royal Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes as an additional bonus prize for this first draw. The lottery is a joint West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council project to help community initiatives.

The Bowling Club started out on its journey to transform its premises four years ago and, after consulting the community, drew up plans to improve its own facilities while also providing a real community hub for educational, recreational, sporting and social activities for all age groups.

The initiative has three main strands:

  • replacement of garages with a new  indoor double rink bowling green with associated facilities
  • internal and external alterations to the existing clubhouse to provide a quality community venue able to accommodate 150 people
  • erection of an extension to provide a gym

The club is working in partnership with Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership and local providers and clubs.

The successful bid for funding from West Somerset Council will be followed by bids to other funding pots including Sport England, Power to Change and the Big Lottery.

Club treasurer, Marilyn Binding, said: “Watchet has no community venue able to accommodate large numbers. Our improved venue will fill this gap and it will provide somewhere for all sectors of the local community to take part in a wide range of activities.

“Our proposed project will act as an accessible and inviting focal point for our current population and newcomers moving here to work at Hinkley Point and join in with what is happening locally.

“The centre will make the most of the opportunity to target both workers themselves and their friends and families – encouraging them to participate together in community activities, including healthy living, educational, social and leisure activities.”

Cllr David Westcott, Lead Member for communities with West Somerset Council, said: “This is an ambitious project with a real community focus that will provide Watchet with facilities that many larger towns would envy.

“The Club has also shown the initiative to make a successful bid for funding from our Leisure Fund and to become one of the good causes supported by our local lottery.”

BLENHEIM GARDENS VOLUNTEERS

Going back to grass roots help is bringing Blenheim Gardens in Minehead back to its blooming best.

Volunteers, working with West Somerset Council’s open spaces staff, have put in countless hours – gaining recognition from Britain in Bloom and the heartfelt thanks of West Somerset Council during Love Parks Week.

The national initiative, running from July 14-23, is encouraging people to use their parks and enjoy the experience.

Blenheim Gardens is West Somerset’s flagship park and covers six acres in the centre of Minehead. Created in the 1920s, the gardens are mature with spring and summer bedding displays, a wide range of trees, shrubs and perennials that thrive in the mild maritime climate.

The park has its own bandstand for summer concerts and brass bands – always a family favourite – as well as a seasonal putting course, a Burma Star Memorial Garden which provides an area for quiet reflection, and seating.

There are plans to make Blenheim Gardens more sustainable with a greater emphasis on perennials and shrubs rather than thirsty annual bedding plants.

Cllr Martin Dewdney, the council’s Lead Member for the environment, said: “Blenheim Gardens is quite simply beautiful. The park is a wonderful oasis close to the beach and the centre of Minehead and I know it is well loved by residents and visitors.

“The volunteers do so much for the park and I would like to take this chance to thank them on behalf of the community and the council. Blenheim Gardens is a place to treasure, thanks to our volunteers.

“There is something for everyone in the park – plants to enjoy, a pitch and putt course, grass for the children to play on and the very popular café. In the summer, there’s a programme of music in the Bandstand featuring traditional brass and silver bands as well as local groups.”

Blenheim Gardens has a Facebook page, where you keep up to date with the latest events.

This photo is thought to date back to the 1930s.

 

 

 

TICKETS ON SALE FOR SOMERSET WEST LOTTERY

Tickets are now available online for the Somerset West Lottery and the chance to scoop a £25,000 jackpot and help local good causes.

The first draw takes place on Saturday 29 July, with 60p from every £1 ticket going to local charities and good causes. Players can choose which cause they want to support. It’s free for good causes to register for the Somerset West Lottery and more are encouraged to sign up.

The lottery is a joint initiative by Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils and an example of the two authorities working together in partnership.

Katrina Midgley, Chief Officer of Engage, the first good cause to sign up, said: “We were keen to support the lottery not only for the benefits it can bring to us as a charity and our work but also for the benefit it will bring to the areas of Taunton Deane and West Somerset. We will be actively encouraging all the charities and community groups that Engage supports to sign-up as good causes.”

Clare Pound of Home-Start West Somerset, said: “For small charities, getting this money is going to make a lot of difference, and will go a long way. We’d encourage other local good causes to sign up.”

Players have a 50 to 1 chance of winning one of the prizes, which range from the £25,000 jackpot to three extra tickets.

Cllr Jane Warmington, the Borough Council’s Executive councillor for community leadership, said: “The Somerset West Lottery is a great way to support charity and voluntary organisations, while the council manages its reduced budgets.

“We believe this option, with an external company taking responsibility for the prize fund costs, mitigates any risk to the council.

Cllr Dave Westcott, Leader Member for Community and Customer at West Somerset Counci, said: “We will be encouraging local causes to register as a beneficiary of the lottery. The society lottery concept is an idea other local authorities are exploring and has been successfully launched by several councils already.”

A lottery management company, Gatherwell, has been appointed to run the scheme, having already launched similar lotteries with Portsmouth, Corby, Peterborough and many others.

Ben Speare, Gatherwell’s managing director, said: “We are delighted that Gatherwell has been awarded the opportunity to run the new Somerset West Lottery.

“We’re looking forward to helping support Taunton Deane and West Somerset local causes in partnership with the council.”

To buy your tickets or register as a good cause visit www.somersetwestlottery.co.uk

PHOTO: Home-Start West Somerset. Left to right: Siobhan Lennon-Patience (mum, service user and newly appointed trustee), Pam Shambrook (volunteer) and Clare Pound (Minehead Home-Start manager).

This photo was used in our spring issue’s article about the charity. Click on the pages below to read it here if you missed it!

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HALSWAY FETE AND FOLK FOR ALL THE FAMILY

This year’s Halsway Manor Fête takes place on Saturday 3 June, from 12-5pm, and promises to be bigger and better than ever!

The Manor gardens will be filled with stalls including local foods and produce, flowers, books, plants, art and crafts. Minehead Library will be offering storytelling for children in the Summer House, Mr Mommet’s Punch and Judy will take place on the croquet lawn, and the Manor’s maypole will be put to good use with opportunities for all to join in with maypole dancing! Feeling peckish? There will be a lovely range of delicious things to eat, including cream teas, cakes, a BBQ and ice cream made especially for you by Somerset’s Brinkman’s Ice Cream!

Halsway are delighted to be welcoming several dance teams to the day as part of Sweet Coppin’s 40th anniversary celebrations! There will be performances throughout the afternoon from Taunton’s Sweet Coppin clog dancers, Taunton Deane Morris Men, City Clickers clog dancers, and Silver Flame Rapper Sword dancers; there will be a workshop too for anyone who wants to try clog, morris or rapper for themselves.

Entrance to the Fête is by donation – please give what you can; all monies raised will go towards Halsway’s Restoration Appeal, a project of essential works to preserve both the fabric of the historic Manor, and also its nationally important library collection.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a Charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. All are welcome. For more information visit www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

BE A QUANTOCK EXPLORER

The Quantocks Events Programme starts this weekend with a woodland spring flowers walk from Aisholt so we thought this would be a good time to share a post from the team at the Quantock Hills AONB…

Grab your rucksack and flask of sugary tea and come and join the Quantock Rangers as the Quantock Hills AONB Service launches its Events Programme for 2017.

Explore the Quantock Hills with our Rangers and Specialists in a series of guided walks throughout the year. Walks include hunting for fossils on our Jurassic Coast Walk, a Wellbeing Walk to help celebrate ‘Naturally Healthy Month’ in May, a Family Bushcraft Day, an evening Bats and Owls Walk and even a Quantock Quiz Walk for the walker who enjoys solving puzzles!

The programme also includes a set of special walks run by the Quantock Volunteer Rangers called Quantock Explorer Walks. These are specially designed to introduce you to different parts of the Quantock Hills and to find out more about the wildlife, plantlife and history of that part of the hills. From Fyne Court to Cothelstone, the Bicknoller loop and a Hill Fort Walk too.

We are also helping to promote others running guided walks on the Quantocks, including a series of walks at Durbourgh Farm including a Dawn Chorus Walk, a Spring Flowers Walk and in the autumn a Fungi Walk. Also, June brings the Quantock Walking Festival run by the Sedgemoor Ramblers.

Quantock AONB Manager Chris Edwards says: “These events are about experiencing the very best of the Quantock Hills, from the 200-million-year-old fossils on the Quantock coastline, to finding out more about how prehistoric people used and changed this landscape. It’s about enjoying the outstanding nature of this important and nationally recognised landscape.”

To book onto an event and to see the programme go to the Quantock Hills AONB website at www.quantockhills.com/events/view you can also find us on Facebook at /Quantock.hills or on Twitter @quantockhills

COMING UP AT REGAL THEATRE MINEHEAD

The Regal Theatre, Minehead have been very lucky to book the  European Union Chamber Orchestra for Wednesday 5 April.  Directed by Eva Stegemann, the programme will comprise three Mozart works:– Serenade in D K.185, Oboe Concerto K.314, and Adagio for Cor Anglais, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

Soloist Nicholas Daniel (Oboe And Cor Anglais) has played on every continent  and appeared  with leading orchestras across the globe and in the BBC Proms.

EUCO has performed in 73 countries  in major concert halls and Festivals, broadcast on television and radio across  Europe and the USA and had several UK concerts broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Performances begin at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £18 are now available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), 10am-3pm Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm Saturday.

Also coming up:

Friday 31 March at 7.30pm
THE DEANE BIG BAND

On Friday 31 March the ever popular Deane Big Band returns to the Regal Theatre with a good time for all as they bring in some toe-tapping big band classics from the swing era. The band will be playing lots of Glenn Miller hits, as well as some by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich and Duke Ellington.

Chris Franks will sing songs like ‘Come fly with me’ and ‘ Let’s face the music and dance’; Chris does not have blue eyes like Mr Sinatra – but he does sound just like him!

Hannah Deason-Barrow will sing about that ‘Old Devil Called Love’ but don’t worry – everyone will end up ‘Feeling Good’.

With two great singers as well as a full 17 piece big band – it will be a big sound and joyful evening.

Performances begin at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £9 are now available from the Regal Box Office.