More seaside violence

Crowd apalled at anarchy on Weymouth seafront

I’m just back from Weymouth, inspecting the Olympic facilities.
On the seafront I saw a man and woman having a shouting match until the woman suddenly  smacked the bloke on the head and they started fighting.
A copper turned up but instead of calming things down he started to hit the guy with his truncheon.
Then the guy got the truncheon off the copper and started hitting him AND his wife!
Then this crocodile turned up and stole all the sausages.

Madness! What’s the world coming to?

The South Somerset Jackpot – £1.3 million shared by 3 senior officers

Fat catIt normally takes a mass murder to get a minor rural area like South Somerset in the headlines, but this weekend our beloved Council ( Band D: £1449.47 per year) hit the jackpot with the front page and an inside story in the Telegraph. The essential facts: 

  •  Phil Dolan trousered £569,000 of Council Taxpayers’ money after voluntarily leaving his post as Chief Executive of SSDC after just 6 years- £157,000 for salary, a redundancy payment of £167,000 and a lovely pension top up of £239,000. Breathtaking.  He is quoted in the  Daily Telegraph “There are no fat cat golden handshakes”. So that’s all right then.
  • Corporate Director Mark Pollock earned £52,000 for seven months’ work, plus £112,000 for loss of office, and £164,000 for his pension fund.
  • David Stapleton was paid £56,000 for 8 months’ work, plus £121,000 for loss of office and £131,000 for pension contributions.The total, £1.2 million, is not far short of the £1.35 million Somerset County Council achieved by reducing library opening hours . Or, to put it another way, 827 band D householders – say the populations of Horsington and South, possibly North Cheriton – coughed up their entire council tax for these guys.

Phil Dolan, no doubt exhausted, has taken early retirement. The other two, one of whose jobs was to liaise with Somerset County Council on the Hinkley Point power station (no we don’t believe it either), and the other was in charge of “health and wellbeing” (we thought the NHS did that), have both gone on to lucrative employment in the local government mafia of quangoes, talkshops and consultancies.

In its defence, the council states “This restructure involved a reduction in staff from having a Chief Executive and four Corporate Directors to having a shared Chief Executive and two directors.

“The departure of the former CEO and the 2 Directors, who were all made redundant, has helped facilitate annual savings of £431k per annum. It is normal practice and a legal requirement in both the public and the private sector for senior executives to receive payment for their loss of employment.”

All very well, but it begs the question of why were at least two of these people were paid so much in the first place for what look like non jobs, already duplicated by the work of  other agencies?

And did any of our elected councillors speak out about the poor value for money these roles represented or their severance terms? Or were they too busy?

How many other publicly-funded non jobsworths are lurking in the undergrowth at SSDC or SCC?
Tell us. Email the editor with your story. In total confidence, of course

More information here

Planning officers recommend go-ahead for Silton Wind Turbines

Coming to a hillside near you?

A North Dorset Planning Case Officer, one James Lytton-Travers, has recommended that the application to build four 120-metre wind turbines at Silton, be approved.

The North Dorset Planning Committee meeting will be on March 1st at the RiversMeet leisure centre, Gillingham. Obviously they are expecting a full turn out.

In his report, Mr Lytton-Travers acknowledges that the turbines will have an adverse effect on the landscape, but says this is outweighed by the benefits these structures will bring.

In particular,  “The potential  to contribute significantly to renewable energy targets and to reduce CO2 emissions and climate change”.

Potential be dammed – what about actual?

If the wind doesn’t blow enough, the whole thing will be an expensive and unsightly white elephant, subsidsed by you and me. Last year, according to the Department of the Environment, wind turbines produced only a meagre 26 per cent of their potential output, and calculations here suggest the performance of the Silton Four will be around 22 per cent.

The builders, landowners and developers of this project will make a tidy sum, thanks to generous public (that’s you and me) subsidies.

Will our elected representatives see sense and vote this expensive, wasteful and quixotic project down?
Think. if it happens here, where next? Stourhead? Melbury? Bulbarrow? Eggardon?

We shall see.

More on

Tell us what you think -Ed

It seems the question has been answered. No sooner did we publish this post then a proposal was announced to build a wind farm comprising about 250 450ft tall turbines across a 76 square mile area of the English Channel off the coast of Dorset. 

Enough to power some 820,000 homes. So we won’t need the miserable contribution from the Silton Four -ED

Property -The Somerset v Dorset price gap widens

Somerset property prices
Price differentials between Somerset and Dorset

This chart from the Land Registry shows the property price trend between Somerset and Dorset over the last decade. Prices more than doubled, peaking in 2008, but have now dropped away, and anyone who bought since then could be looking at a loss.

The charts indicates that Somerset property  failed to pick up when the market revived slightly in 2009, and the gap between property prices in Somerset and Dorset widened considerably.

The graph is flat, but which way will it go? Whatever happens, Somerset offers undoubted value over its southern neighbour.

In our next update we will look at price comparisons with other areas.

Gordon Sunderland -a tragic and uneccessary end?

The death recently occurred of a much respected and loved Half Moon regular, Gordon Sunderland. His funeral at Yeovil attracted a massive turn-out on Monday 14 February. Probably the cleverest person in the bar (and that’s saying something!), he was a former senior  boffin at Plessey and  a top man in the MOD at Portland. A very distinguished scientist, gentleman, raconteur and inbiber. We miss him.

We send our sincere condolences to his two daughters and their families.

His sad demise at the age of only 74 raises some serious concerns. This is what happened.

One night in November last year he felt unwell. So unwell, he called an ambulance.

When they arrived, he was upstairs, in bed (he lived alone).

The ambulance crew refused to enter the premises, although he shouted down to them.


So he eventually and reluctantly agreed to come downstairs. In doing so, he fell, and broke his ankle. The ambulance crew carted him off to hospital In Yeovil.

Since the accident he was in and out of hospital in Verrington, Yeovil and latterly Exeter, where he was waiting to have a skin graft, and, possibly the amputation of his foot, a daunting and frightening prospect.

He died in Exeter of a heart attack on January 31st, just before his operation.

On the face of it there is a clear chain of events between his initial call for an ambulance and his untimely death. We hope that the authorities launch an enquiry and review their procedures and rules.

Many people live alone in the country. Some get ill. They will probably think twice before calling an ambulance.

If anyone who knew Gordon well would like to write a fuller appreciation of his life and work, please get in touch -Ed

So you think you’re insured?

As Horsington couple discovered to their horror that they had never been insured, as their house was close to a stream

A cautionary tale from a Horsington couple.

A leaking oil tank is everyone’s nightmare. Especially when the authorities treat the accidental perpetrators like mass murderers, at least at the outset. A large bill for the over-the top-clean-up for even a modest spillage like this is guaranteed, but not to worry, it’s all covered by insurance. Or is it?

A well-known 3-letter insurance company (motto: re-defining standards – and how!) insured the couple.
They were surprised to discover that not only did the insurance company refuse the claim, but that they had never been insured. Why? Because their house was within a quarter of a mile of a watercourse*. The company has gallantly offered to repay their premiums from the start of insurance.

There is now a big fight going on, but in the meantime the rest of Horsington and South Cheriton had better check their policies. Most of the houses in both villages are close to a stream. And beware of buying insurance on line.

* Not 25 metres, as stated in an earlier edition.

Our new gardening column – introducing Silas Silage

Horsington Blog - Silas Silage
Silas Silage

 Spring is a-comin’ in, writes Silas Silage, our very own gardening expert, who believes planning is the key to gardening success.

With the evenings lengthening and old cock robin a’ busy in the hedgerows while Mr Worm starts his perennial task of digging out from his hibernation hideaway, spring is in the air and  it’s time to think about the garden. The edge of the lawn is a carpet of snowdrops and bluebells, and the crocuses and daffodils delight the eye, waving in the gentle spring breeze while aloft, tits, pigeons and song thrushes start their mating rituals. (Get on with it –Ed)

There are so many things to do in the garden at this time of year, so I always starts with a list.

I go down to the shed and unlock it after the long winter, teasing the hinges with a drop of 3 in-one.

Then I sits down in the old armchair, roll a cigarette of Old Shagger’s Knotweed Vanilla Gold, pour a measure of sloe gin and gets out me notepad.

First on the list is a pencil sharpener, and a new pencil too for good measure. This one is down to the last……..
(To be continued – Ed)


Your Horoscope for February, by Claire Voyant

Your fate in the stars, by Claire Voyant, astrologer in residence at the Half Moon

Aquarius The Moon and Venus play havoc with your love life, while at work you come up against enemies who have had it in for you for years. You will seek refuge among  the calming influence of wiser counsels at the bar and will find London Pride gives you solace, despite having gone up to £3 a pint. Don’t drink too much – the end of the month will be tricky and Uranus is a tough master.

Pisces  Make plans for travel this month as your natural desire to help people will be in much demand as they try to dump their woes on you. Read the other ‘scopes, and you can spot the ones to avoid. You may be wise and self aware, but you are also dedicated to compassionate service to others. Sucker. Get out.

Aries  Sharing the same birth sign as Hitler does not give you the right to boss everyone around, and it’s not a bad idea to get rid of that moustache either, or people might think you are  gay (not you, obviously, madam).  It’s not a bad idea to lie low, take it easy, and stop hitting on people.

Taurus  You are cautious, practical and purposeful, so it’s the garden for you this month. Mind your back tackling those ground elder roots and you should be OK. If it all gets too much, a nice calming glass of Stowford Cider at the Half Moon will calm you down.

Gemini  You are not a “glass half full” person or a ”glass half empty” person. For you, the glass is simply too small. Best to avoid buying big ticket items, even at Argos; rather stay around the village and try one of the larger glasses in the Half Moon. Keep your eyes open for ESB, because the Sun and Mercury  will make you thirsty and ambitious.

Cancer  You are one of the world’s nicest people, indeed almost perfect. Your cooking is magnificent and everybody loves you. What they don’t know, of course, is that deep down you would really prefer to be elsewhere and Venus will present the perfect opportunity later in the month. A large Merlot in the Half Moon may give you the springboard.

Leo  For you, life is a stage, and acclaim by friends and colleagues can lead you astray.  Stay away from danger and sublimate your artistic and creative urges by volunteering to help the paint the Milborne Port Opera’s scenery flats in Chris Bailward’s barn. A delicious pint or a G+T in the Half Moon afterwards will put you in a warm and reflective mood.

Virgo  You are a very interesting person, but you do tend to go on a bit. Also people get a bit teed off with your fastidious nit- picking approach. Luckily you can rise above the criticism of lesser mortals, but be careful –one of them might have a knife. Basically a month to curb your impulses, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy your usual tipple at the Half Moon. Just stay down the other end of the bar.

Libra   For God’s sake get off the fence! Stop agreeing with everyone else. Find a line and stick to it. If you’re not in a relationship, the omens are favourable, but don’t get excited. It won’t last.  An agreeable and relaxing gossip over a glass of Sauvignon or a pint of Wadworth’s will help compensate for the downsides.

Scorpio  Yours is one of the most misunderstood signs of the zodiac, and I can’t make it out either. You are magnetic, elusive, sexy and determined, even ruthless, and it looks like a bit of a mixed month. Stay cool, rise above it, and take plenty of fluids (You know where).

Sagitarius Half man (or woman), half beast, that’s you, and this month you want the best of both worlds, and it looks like you will get it, at least in the first half of the month, so it’s a good idea to try that on line dating service you have been thinking about. Or play it safe, and go down to the pub and laugh at the lonely hearts ads in the Blackmore Vale, along with the rest of them.

Capricorn  Your suspicion of others is bordering on paranoia, but just because others are out to get you, there’s no need to reach for the valium. Relax over a few bevvies in the Half Moon and get your mind in tune, because the rest of the month, thanks to the Moon and Venus, will be full of romantic and financial opportunities. Don’t blow it!

Slow death of the Library?

Wincanton library seems safe from the cuts – for the moment. As an economy, the opening hours have been reduced so that anyone with a job, or at school will be unable to use it without difficulty and inconvenience.
The inevitable consequence of this will be that library usage will reduce, enabling the Faceless Ones in County Hall to say that owing to lack of demand, the library will close. Perfect!

Film Review – The King’s Peach – now showing at Yeovil

The King’s Peach

Right royal carry-on with lovable cockney lad Harry Oik (Jim Dale) caught stealing a peach from the greenhouse of garrulous tyrant George VI (James Roberston Justice). The madcap fun starts when our hero meets the Queen Mother (Joan Sims) and the two beautiful princesses (Keira Knightly and  Angela Douglas), who show him Krek Waiter’s Peak. The film climaxes with all the pomp and glamour of a traditional laugh-a-minute royal wedding, with Sid James starring as an unlikely Archbishop of Canterbury. Fun, fun, fun.

We apologise for a misprint in the headline. It should of course read NOT showing at Yeovil – or anywhere else! -Ed