Damp squib at the Battle of Slades Hill

It was going to fireworks between the SSDC and an opportunistic developer, Mead Realisations, over a controversial housing development at Templecombe, but the appeal before the planning inspector at Churchlands, Wincanton  on Friday 27 September, turned out to be a very  low key and incredibly polite debate between opposing barristers.
At stake are plans for a housing estate at Slades Hill, Templecombe, a mile down the road from Horsington.

It is difficult to find out what is going on, as the Council’s website does not appear to be up to date with the documentation. Even worse, there is no mention of the appeal hearing date and venue anywhere on the SSDC website, which may explain why only the Blog, the Mayor of Wincanton and a lady from Templecombe were there to witness the proceedings. A poor show. No doubt deputy heads will roll.

Slades Hill, Templecombe
The proposed development site at Slades Hill Templecombe. Railway line at the bottom, Thales to the right

A year ago Mead asked for outline permission for 100 houses on a 16 acre site. The proposal included a retail unit, employment space, public open space, allotments and an area for school expansion.

The SSDC failed to deliver a decision, and so Mead launched an appeal.

The Council’s case
The council believes the appeal should be dismissed on the basis of the development’s adverse impact on highways safety and on the grounds of unsustainable development out of scale with the character of Templecombe and its status within the hierarchy of settlements in the District. What this means is that Templecombe, despite its railway station and Thales, is small fry, and there are better, more appropriate places to develop.

The developer’s case
The Developer claims the council has acted unreasonably in refusing permission and that the reasons for refusal are unjustified. However, just in case the Council is right, they have amended their development to just 75 homes and taken out the retail provision. The Parish Council seem to have gone along with this.

At the same time, the Council and the developer have agreed terms for what is called a “Section 106 Agreement”. This is the list of things the developer will do for the community if he gets permission – affordable housing, play areas, financial contribution to education, sports pitch etc etc.

So while counsel on huge fees argue the intricacies of the finer points of planning law, the audience is  left wondering what the real argument is about and what deals are being done behind closed doors.

What is clear is that (a) the SSDC has lost a point or two (and maybe even the argument) by not having robust planning policies and procedures in place and that (b)planning law is now so complex that lowly citizens like ourselves will have to put up with whatever the bureaucrats and planners want to foist upon us. So much for the much trumpeted concept of localism.

The Inspector’s decision is not expected for another few weeks, and at the hearing there was no sense from this master of impartiality which way he will go.

We will tell you more as soon as the decision is announced.

Response from local councillors
SSDC Planning details
Slades Hill development protest site
South Somerset’s planning nightmare
Wincanton planning problems

Come to the Wincanton market on Sunday

Wincanton is launching a monthly street market this Sunday, September15th, from 11 am.

The Blog welcomes any initiative to liven up our nearest town and re-vitalise its shopping – it really is a case of “Use it or lose it”.

Let’s hope the initiative will pave the way for some of the empty retail properties to be cleaned up and re-let, and for the scrubland round the so-called Wincanton Gateway to be cleared and landscaped.

We hope readers will support the venture.

More details from Wincanton Window


North Cheriton village hall renovation is well on the way

The North Cheriton Village Hall is being renovated The first stage sees the opening up of the roof space by removal of the false ceiling, adding up-to-date insulation to the pine clad roof and the repainting of the main area in attractive, heritage colours.

This stage of the work will be finished quite soon and the committee is planning a Gala re-Opening with a Quiz and Curry evening on Saturday, 5th October.  All are welcome.

Further dates for your diary include a Film Night Supper on Saturday,  2nd November, the Christmas Craft & Gift Fayre on Saturday, 9th November and the Christmas Supper and Quiz on Saturday, 7th December.

The committee has tried to keep the hall open and usable to all existing hirers while renovations are carried out and thank the building team for making this possible.

2014 will see further renovations which will be approached in stages so as to keep the disruption to users to a minimum.  There are plans for a new kitchen and a bar plus the creation of a new meeting room that will be cosier for smaller groups.

All this work, of course, comes at a cost and there will be plenty of fund raising events for you to attend and enjoy, starting this autumn.  The committee hopes, with your support and maybe the odd grant or two, to be able to give North Cheriton  the village hall it deserves.

Beware the Manuka Honey Trap

Beekeeping in Horsington

“The Sunday Times” on August 25 reported that the Food Standards Agency has declared New Zealand Manuka Honey to be no better than locally produced British honey with regard to healing & health properties claimed for the product, which can sell for up to £40.00 per jar!

It gets worse. The FSA (Food Standards Agency) reports that although a  total of 1,700 tonnes of Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand each year, 1,800 tonnes is sold in the UK alone and as much as 10,000 tonnes is sold worldwide! The chances of finding any genuine Manuka Honey are very slim, since only 17% of all Manuka honey sold anywhere is the genuine article.

Horsington has a community of very active beekeepers. Those who have been lucky enough to get a honey harvest this year may be willing to sell you a jar of the local product, brimming with Mother Nature’s goodness. Luckily  (for you, dear reader, but not them), the asking price is a modest £4 to£5 a jar.

The local beeks are a shy bunch. The Blog approached them to ask if anyone has any local honey for sale, but none have replied so far. We shall keep you informed.

If you are a local beekeeper with honey for sale, email the editor-  editor@idnet.com .

Spend the winter in Utopia

Posh frocks and tights. Lovely!

Wondering how to pass the time during the long, grey, cold, winter ahead?  Come and exercise (or revive) your musical talents by joining several other Horsington, Templecombe and Wincanton residents in the Milborne Port Opera’s next production “Utopia Limited” by Gilbert & Sullivan.

The plot will be familiar to anyone who has followed the banking crisis and the gyrations of the Department for Overseas Development. It concerns the decision of a luxurious South sea Island-  Utopia – to embrace everything British, including some strange financial laws which turn the island itself into a limited liability company.

There’s plenty of satire and digs at familiar institutions such as the monarchy, bankers, bureaucrats, the law and the gutter press.

Rehearsals are every Thursday at 8pm, initially at the Methodist Hall in Milborne Port. There are breaks at half term and Christmas. Performances are the week after Easter (21-26 April 2014).

Come along. Have some fun. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to learn the words and how to sing them.

The first weeks are spent on music. After auditions for the main parts, the company moves into Milborne Port Primary School and begins setting the movements and dialogue.
The first rehearsal is this Thursday, September 5th, but you can also join at subsequent rehearsals during the next few weeks.

contact Sarah Bignell (sarah.bignell@btinternet.com)

Learn about the real Utopia!

The latest insurance scam

The editor writes
I recently received an insurance renewal for my property. “No need to do anything, just relax and we’ll take the money from your bank account automatically” trilled the chatty letter from the marketing director for the company, which once upon a time was a household name based in Norwich, but is now French-owned.

When I looked in detail, I saw the premium had jumped a massive 44 per cent. Yes, 44 per cent! After an age of hanging on listening to lift music, I eventually got through to someone.

They were unable to explain any reason for the increase and immediately backed down, settling instead for a more acceptable £5 increase on the previous year’s premium.

Are there any honest companies left in this once great trading nation?
Moral: Watch everything, complain like mad. Never give up.

The blog stirs and wakes up to a planning nightmare.

There’s a bit of a nip in the air in the mornings, a sharp reminder that this wonderful summer is slowly drawing to a close. Time for the blog to wake from its summer torpor and see what has been going on. Is there anything worth reporting?

Well yes actually. While we have all been snoozing in our hammocks, a Government inspector has ruled that LibDem South Somerset District Council’s much heralded Local Plan (formerly the pretentiously titled “core strategy”), has been ruled as “unsound”. As a consequence, the Council has decided to suspend the plan for another 7-8 months so that it can address the inspector’s concerns.

You would have thought that having spent £2.5 million of your money compiling the plan, they might have got it right. But heigh ho, apparently only 30 per cent of submitted plans get through first time round, so that’s all right then. Another £350,000 to sort out the unsound elements and the council is back in business – allowing more unsightly developments like the jungle-like eyesore KFC/pub and hotel complex at Wincanton and the creation of hundreds of homes, windfarms and solar farms on greenfield agricultural sites in Templecombe,  East Coker and elsewhere in the district.

The local plan is not the usual piece of bureaucratic tomfoolery. It is a blueprint for how the area will be developed between now and 2028.

Under the Government’s planning laws there is a presumption in favour of development in local authority areas which do not have an approved local plan.

With no local authority elections due until 2015, we have to rely on the Conservative opposition to ensure the plans are what the locality wants and needs, are sufficiently rigorous to pass the Inspector’s scrutiny. Can they do it? Or will we be overrun by tatty housing and ill-considered speculative energy projects?

See also:
Slades Hill, Templecombe development


Heart attack help in the phone box

Horsington’s parish council is supporting a move to install a defibrillator in the old phone box opposite the Half Moon. A team of volunteers will be trained to operate the equipment, which will provide rapid emergency help in the event of anyone suffering a heart attack.

Fact: The chance of surviving a cardiac arrest (heart attack) decreases by 23 per cent per minute. So you have less than 5 minutes to get help and start treatment.

Alongside the defibrillator will be a Village Emergency Telephone System (VETS).  This will ring all the volunteers and first aiders simultaneously, and the first one to pick up can accept of refuse the call out. If they are unavailable, it will go on ringing the others until there is a positive response. VETS can be used for any medical emergency, not just heart attacks.

The scheme is the brainchild of parish councillor Charles James, who has agreed to provide some financial support – The defibrillator costs just under £2,000 and the VETS system costs £150 a year to run. It is hoped that the local authority will also help with funding, and donations are welcome from businesses and individuals.

About Defibrillators
A defibrillator delivers an electrical current through the chest which aims to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm allowing it to pump again.  Rapid response using automated technology can significantly improve the quality of life of a survivor, as the longer the brain is starved of oxygen, the more damage that can occur.

Horsington’s proposed portable defibrillator is designed for people with no medical background.  When applied to the victim, voice commands and screen messages will guide the user step-by-step through the process and its intelligent technology will only allow it to shock a ‘shockable’ heart rhythm. In other words, if it’s not needed, it won’t work.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest:
Sudden Cardiac Arrest or SCA is an electrical malfunction of the heart (most commonly Ventricular Fibrillation) in which the heart stops pumping blood to the body and brain due to an abnormal heart rhythm known as an arrhythmia.  As the victim consecutively loses pulse, consciousness and ability to breathe, the victim is termed “clinically dead” and can only be physically brought back to life in a very small window of time using a defibrillator .

The rate of survival of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is dependent upon time. The quicker the intervention, the better the outcome. Brain death starts after 3 minutes so urgent action is needed, particularly in rural areas where it can take several minutes to get a competently trained person to the scene.

There is one of these in Mere High Street. Your editor tried to put money in as he thought it was a parking meter!

If you would like to donate or volunteer (no previous experience necessary) please contact Charles James – charles@otteryantiques.co.uk
More information on the equipment

Village dinner raises funds for the hall

Congratulations to the hard-working team who put together the highly successful and delicious village dinner at the Village hall on Saturday night. The evening had an Irish theme, it being St Patrick’s night. The proceedings were presided over by village Hall chairman John MacDonald, resplendent in an emerald green, sequinned bow tie.

Thanks to him, Chris Bailward, Emelie Gordon, Vicky Franklin, Maria Hawkins,  and their young helpers.

Funds raised go towards the care and maintenance of the village hall.

John Macdonald, Chair, St Margaret’s Hall Committee writes:
The Village Hall committee would like to thank all those villagers who participated in and donated to the St Patrick’s day fundraiser. We are constantly amazed and gratified by the generosity of our community of Horsington and South Cheriton. Needless to say, we raised a considerable sum for Hall funds which will go in some way to cover some of our recent heavy costs.

I would also like to say thank you to my hard-working committee for their support in running the Hall Dinner. Praise for the chefs, Vicky Franklin, Emelie Gordon, Maria Hawkins, Anthea Hughes and Sarah Warren. Thanks to Chris Bailward and Paddy Hughes for their organisational skills and to Sally Collins, Jackie Pyne and Gareth Cherry, who while unable to be with us, gave support. Also, thanks must go to the many diners who supported us with puddings, including Annie Bailward’s ‘historic’ bread-and-butter pudding. Finally, a big thank you to Phillipa and Andrew at the Half Moon for providing the Colcannon side dish.

Judging by the many notes of thanks I have received dinner went down well. (Pun intended).


Apolgy to email subscribers

Email subscribers will have received the March diary. Unfortunatelythis was an early draft, which was published by mistake. Some of the information is incorrect.

Please disregard until the latest version is published at the end of this month.

Don’t forget, if you are organising an event of any sort, you can publicise it in the Blog by emailing the editor at editor@idnet.com.