THE BADGER cull, police chief in trouble and Dunster's paving. The Somerset County Gazette looks back at what was making the headlines in the newspaper from May to August 2015


A SEVERE outbreak of a sickness and diarrhoea bug at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital led to eight wards being closed or having restricted access.

BABY Harlan Fletcher might have kept his parents waiting ... but he managed to pip Princess Charlotte to the punch.

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Little Harlan, who was born at Musgrove Park Hospital, will be sharing his birthdays with the Princess who was born just half-an-hour after he was at St Mary’s Hospital, in London.

A SIX MILLION-pound investment boost was announced for Children’s Services by Somerset County Council following two years of damning Ofsted reports and controversy surrounding leadership of the services.

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The investment included plans to recruit up to 100 extra children’s social work staff and a new scrutiny committee.

MP Rebecca Pow overturned the 4,000 vote majority won by retiring MP Lib Dem Jeremy Browne in 2010 to romp home by over 15,000 votes.

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Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger also held on to his seat.

THERE were fresh fears that one of Taunton’s biggest employers could be forced to move out of the town.

Urgent talks were being held to secure the future of the UK Hydrographic Office in the town after it was confirmed a study of options is being carried out to replace the “ageing and expensive” premises in Admiralty Way which employs around 1,000 people.

PLANS for a nationwide blanket ban on all legal highs were announced in the Queen’s Speech – just five days before Taunton became one of the first places in England to outlaw the ‘intoxicating substances’ with a Public Space Protection Order.


THE owner of a curry house faced a fine of up to £80,000 for employing four illegal foreign workers.

Immigration enforcement officers swooped on the Natraj Tandoori, in East Reach, Taunton, following a tip off from a member of the public. In the dramatic raid witnesses looked on as three vans pulled up on the pavement near the restaurant and officers jumped out, heading to the front and rear of the premises.

A STREET artist whose graffiti on a wall near a park divided opinion has said he is prepared to work with people in the area to change the design.

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The "artist_in_question" – the name he uses in comments left at our website – said he would have done things differently had he known the artwork was going to “cause so much offence”.

While some people applaud the spray can work on the wall of a property in Eastbourne Gate, Taunton, others criticised it.

WHAT started out as a hobby for one metal detectorist in Taunton resulted in a dream come true after finding a rare medieval ring.


Paul Saxton couldn’t believe his eyes last year when he discovered a gold Saint George ring while sweeping a farmer’s field. And the magic of his find continued after the ring fetched a whopping £7,000 at auction – more than double the estimated price.

BOATS filled the River Tone over the weekend for one of Taunton’s most popular summer fundraising events – and the sunshine brought out plenty of spectators out too.

The town’s Dragon Boat Race was held on Sunday to raise money for Headway Somerset, a charity which helps people live independent lives after a brain injury.

IT was the year that Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo and Benjamin Britten composed his famous Suite on English Folk Tunes.

In 1974, a young former nurse called Gillian Greig decided to open a music shop in Taunton which would become one of the best known and respected across the south west.

After over four decades of serving countless school children, teachers, orchestras and the odd famous face or two, Gillian, 77, decided the song must end and closed her shop at the end of June to enjoy a lengthy retirement with her husband David, a former GP.

OLYMPIC gold medallist MBE took to the pool along with the pupils at St George’s Primary School in Taunton for an inspirational once-in-a-lifetime experience last Thursday.

Somerset County Gazette: Duncan Goodhew

JULY A MOTHER spoke of the terrifying moment she turned to see a dog attacking her five-year-old daughter while they were enjoying a day at the park.

Little Marina Rutherford was sitting on the zip wire at the children’s play area in Rowan Drive when a Staffordshire Bull Terrier jumped up and bit her stomach and wrist.

THERE were fears police in Minehead are carrying out fewer arrests because it takes too long to transfer them to the new custody suite in Bridgwater.

The opening of the multi-million pound 36-cell custody suite last September led to the closure of holding cells in Minehead.

HECTOR the collie went from zero to hero when his acute senses helped find a missing elderly man.

He was in the doghouse after stealing a fruit cake at home, but all was forgiven after he potentially saved the vulnerable man’s life.

Tanya and Darren Herbison were pretty cross with Hector when they took him for a walk.

He was barking persistently at the bushes, and on closer inspection, the pair found a man lying asleep. The man woke up and was unaware of how he had got there.

CHILDHOOD sweethearts Audrey and John Hepple celebrated 60 years of marriage.

Audrey, 76, and John,78, met at the tender age of 13, but Audrey said she knew they were destined to get married.

AN elderly couple whose Kilve home was destroyed in a fire said they were overwhelmed by the kindness of villagers who donated more than £2,700 to help them.

Marie and Allan Hollis, both 87, saw their home of 13 years in Bears Meadow Lane, Kilve, gutted by the blaze which took place on the morning of July 14.


PLANS to rip up and replace controversial paving slabs on an iconic Dunster street were welcomed by local residents who have slammed the council’s actions in the long-running saga.

Somerset County Gazette: BEFORE: How West Street used to look (image courtesy of Made in Dunster Facebook page)

The blue paving slabs on West Street, which were installed by the county council in January to replace the cobbled street as part of a £400,000 scheme, were set to be dug up and replaced following lengthy campaigns by heritage groups and local villagers.

HUNDREDS of protestors against the controversial badger cull were expected in Taunton when the badger protection rally and march came to the town.

Somerset County Gazette: SUSPENDED: The Welsh Assembly has suspended its badger TB vaccination programme

The march came as the cull, which started in 2013 in Somerset and Gloucestershire, was set to continue this year.

CAT owner Deby Ould was left distraught when her beloved white Siamese ran away after a terrifying car crash on the M5 near Taunton.

But she couldn’t believe her luck when she managed to find her the next day, and said it wouldn’t have been possible without the caring people of Somerset.

AVON and Somerset’s chief constable was formally asked to resign or retire after “abusing his position” and “letting down his colleagues and communities”.

Somerset County Gazette: Nick Gargan has quit his post

Disgraced Nick Gargan was also suspended again by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mounstevens who used powers available to her to ask him to resign.

AN EXECUTIVE hired by cash-strapped Somerset County Council was paid more than the Prime Minster, with a salary of just under £1,000 per day. The authority defended the temporary recruitment of Sue Rogers as the interim deputy director of education.

Ms Rogers, was on an astonishing £864 per day plus £100 expenses per day, working in the role four days a week.

A PENSIONER in Taunton claimed to have a world record for the biggest family tree after tracing over 10,000 of his relatives and ancestors.

Roy Blackmore’s impressive relatives include William the Conqueror and Alfred the Great, and he’s even related to the Queen, being her 22nd cousin, once removed.