Wincanton car parking – the SSDC acts by stealth

Diligent readers of last week’s Blackmore Vale Magazine might have noticed that tucked away in an article about the SSDC voting to freeze council tax was the announcement that “car parking fees are proposed in order to “protect community services” (or council officers’ and councilors’ expenses –Ed)

The article continues “The district council will not introduce parking charges in Wincanton and Castle Cary. Instead, it has agreed to accept a £9,928 annual fee from Castle Cary Town Council so they can remain free for the next three years. Ansford Parish Council will contribute £3,000 towards the sum. Wincanton Town Council is expected to pay £12,000 this financial year and £24,000 each year for 2013/14 and 2014/15.”

So each householder and business will be taxed to allow shoppers and others to continue to park for free in Wincanton. The decision appears to be driven by SSDC councilors who live in the larger towns and who think it unfair that people pay parking charges in, say, Yeovil, but not in Wincanton or Castle Carey.

Wincanton does not have a traffic or a parking problem, so charges are not needed in order to control parking. It appears that it is illegal for a district council to impose car parking charges as a revenue raising measure. But not to impose a”Tax” on residents by the back door.

The plight of Wincanton High Street is well known and it is difficult to see how a district council with a mission to promote business regeneration can propose such a measure. But then, they have moved the health centre away from the town centre and filled a new housing development with problem families, so anything is possible.

Nick Colbert, Wincanton’s district councillor has written an open letter to the SSDC’s portfolio holders objecting to the move, criticising the logic and pointing out its illegality. Click here to see the letter on “Wincanton Window”.
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Jubilee goings on -2-5th June

As previously reported, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend looks like being a corker, with a beer festival, a super cricket match and . . . . a street party.

Andrew Tarling and Chris Bailward are proposing to organise the party.
They write” We think the Queen’s Jubilee would be a great opportunity for Horsington and South Cheriton to get together for what most of us will be a once in a lifetime occasion. To this end, we propose holding a street party in Horsington on Sunday 3rd June.

The event will include a beef and hog roast and a barbeque, live music and entertainment. We intend to sell tickets to cover the cost, with priority given to village residents of Horsington and South Cheriton.

Any net proceeds would then go forward to fund some sort of monument to celebrate the Jubilee and everyone’s participation, and a time capsule to be placed somewhere in the parish.

Obviously any help and support in organizing this event, either physical or financial, would be most welcome. If anyone has any ideas or offers please contact Chris Bailward at Home farm, or Andrew Tarling at the Half Moon – .

An excellent initiative. The Blog supports it 100 percent and we hope everyone else will too. Please offer your talents and services –Ed.

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Car Parking proposal will hit everyone

An almighty row has broken out in Wincanton and other Somerset market towns (Cary, Crewkerne and Chard) over car parking charges.

South Somerset District Council (highest council tax in Somerset, £1.3 million payout to senior execs) is short of money, and wants to extract more from (no surprises) motorists and shoppers, who already pay their council tax.

Wincanton currently has no parking charges, and there is little doubt that the struggling High Street will suffer if charges are introduced. The issue has been well covered in the Wincanton Window and we urge readers to look at it in detail and write to urge our councilors to oppose the move.

Our understanding of the law is that parking controls can only be introduced to regulate traffic congestion and ensure sharing of parking resources. Wincanton has neither a traffic nor parking problem, (apart from occasionally near the Natwest Bank), so parking control can only be a revenue raising ploy, and is probably illegal. Wincanton Town Council are assessing the viability of a test case.

The SSDC’s parking strategy documents   lists an objective of “Protect and enhance the vitality and viability of Yeovil and market towns and regional centres”.  The blog fails to see how car parking charges in struggling Wincanton will help achieve this – apart from boosting Morrisons and Lidl even more.

The Conservatives pledged to fight this at the last election, less than a year ago. Lets hear the sound and the fury of their arguments.

We welcome your comments

Parish Council agenda – 8 December

The Parish Council meets at the village Hall on 8 December at 7.30.

The agenda includes churchyard maintenance, Footpaths, the Horse pond, the Villager Magazine and the adoption of the telephone box in the village.

The Villager magazine tells us that ideas for  alternative uses for this key facility are welcome. It would be a good place to shelter from the rain while making phone calls. Unfortunately there is raraly a mobile signal in there. If you have a better idea, get along to the meeting.

Bad news for solar energy

If you were thinking of leading a life of leisure paid for by profits from the solar panels on your roof – think again!

The Government has announced that it will cut the feed in tariff – the amount owners of “domestic” solar panels get from the electricity companies – from 43.3 p per kilowatt hour to just 21p. This will effectively double the time it takes for a solar system to pay back its investment costs from around 7 to 15 years, longer for more expensive systems.

If you have just ordered a system, start putting the pressure on your installer.
Anyone whose system has been commissioned by December 12- just 5 weeks away- will receive the old tariff, but installations registered after this date will receive the new lower tariff.

The background to this announcement is that prices of solar panels have dropped dramatically over the last few months. At the same time ordinary, non-solar electricity users are beginning to bite against the huge subsidies given for “alternative” power generation , which are  effectively paid from everyone’s electricity bills.

The Government seems more motivated by concerns about the amount of money made by the solar panel companies than by the stupidity of subsidising alternative power generation, which still requires conventional power generation for back up when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

Wind farms, solar panels, acres of biomass fuel, all require subsidies from….yes! You and me!

Revised feed-in tariff calculator

Show sheep killed by vicious dog (or dogs) on Horsington Marsh


Survived the winter, but not a visit from a dog

No-one likes to wake up and find a field littered with dead sheep, so this is another plea to dog owners to keep their animals indoors and under control.

Four yearling show sheep and a mature ewe were killed in a dog attack on the night of Wednesday 12 October in two fields to the rear of Bow Brook and Crossing Gate cottages in Marsh Lane.

It is not clear whether the attack was by a single or several dogs, as there were no witnesses, and nothing was heard.

The sheep belonged to Valerie Pratt, who regularly wins prizes on the show circuit with her pedigree Dartmoors. Some of the yearlings were valuable prizewinners and the ewe, Labella, was a retired showgirl, a totally tame and friendly animal, a pet really.

The Gaunts, who looked after her in their paddock, were very fond of her.

Many other people in the village host Valerie’s sheep on their spare land and we are sure they will join the Blog in sending her their sympathy.

The police have been informed.

Battle re-commences at Silton Windpower site

Silton Wind Turbine
View from the B308 near West Bourton

The developers of the proposed  wind generation farm at Silton, which was thrown out by North Dorset Council in March, have appealed, and there will now be a public enquiry.

The proposal was resisted by every parish in the area, and by neighbouring South Somerset District Council.

The proposal was for  four 120-metre tall wind turbines at Silton, between Bourton and Gillingham.
The developers claim Dorset needs more renewable energy and the four turbines would produce enough energy to power 6,700 homes while saving 10,000 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere for the next 25 years.
Objectors say that the proposal will spoil the landscape,  will detract from the setting of adjacent historic properties, and will adversely affect the visual amenities and businesses (including tourism) near the proposed site.
Unfortunately the fact that these things only work at about 20 per cent of their capacity, but provide a taxpayer-funded payout to the developer and the landowner is not a planning issue.
The latest application received more than 1,700 letters of objection and was rejected by every parish council in the area and by neighbouring  South Somerset District Council before North Dorset’s refusal.
An action group Save Our Silton was formed to fight the plan .They are holding a  meeting for anyone interested in opposing the appeal at Bourton School at 7 pm on Friday 21st October
Representations must be made to the planning inspectorate* by 3rd November. If you have written previously, your original letter will form part of the evidence to be submitted to the inspector.
The date of the enquiry is yet to be announced. There are now 2 wind farm appeals in Dorset – the other is at Wareham.
* The Planning Inspectorate,
3/20 Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol, BS1 6PN

Villager Magazine – a reader writes

Dear Sir or Madam,
I was intrigued to see that I can now download a copy of the “Villager” magazine from the Wincanton Window website, but not from the Horsington Blog. Can you explain?

A Reader

We don’t know. It is of course possible that the Villager magazine is unaware of our existence. As far as we know, everyone in Horsington and South Cheriton now gets the magazine delivered to their door, but you know how it is -you need to refer to it immediately after you used it to light the fire. So, as a service to our readers we are including a permanent link to the latest downloadable version in our “Blogroll” (right hand column.)

Incidentally, we  have included a link to the excellent Wincanton Window ever since our launch.- Ed.

More on Templecombe: Ticket office to become an “assisted channel”

Templecombe is just one of 600-odd stations whose ticket office is threatened with closure. Another is Rotherham, where the ticket office has been closed for rebuilding, and the locals are concerned that it might not re-open. (Compare Templecombe, where the associated signal box will close at some point in the future, and then what will happen to the ticket office?).

At Question Time on the 15th October, at about the same time as SW Trains’ Andy Pitt was telling us there were no plans to close the Templecombe ticket office, The Transport Secretary, Phil Hammond. was telling the House of Commons that ownership of stations was being transferred to the train operators “so that they can have a more direct, hands-on involvement”  Translation: Can shut ticket offices without any reference to Government or Network Rail –Ed

Rotherham’s MP, Dennis MacShane, told the Minister “many constituents do not do computers and need help and aid”.

The Minister agreed –well sort of. “I agree there will be the need for assisted channels”.

Mr MacShane: “Assisted channels?” (possibly uttered like Lady Bracknell’s “A handbaaag?”)

Mr Hammond: “I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what assisted channels are. Even as the purchase of tickets, over time, is bound to become more computer based, as new technologies are deployed and more tickets are bought online, through mobile technology and so on, there will still be a need for an assisted channel, and we will ensure that there is one. Translation: We will regard people who do not like computers or ticket machines as disabled and provide limited, minimal facilities at inconvenient times (or rather times which are convenient to the train operator, but not to anyone else –Ed

Unfair? Cynical? We shall see. Watch this space.