Section: West England

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How do I feel after a Year of Lockdowns?

Bob Copeland

Angry, frustrated and now just despair! For decades successive Governments have recognised that a global pandemic was the biggest threat to our national security. Yet when faced with one, the government of the day was found wanting. Local Public Health Services had been critically weakened, and the National Health Service run down and demoralised. At […]

A Reader writes about his Stroud MP

The Editor

Dear Editor, I was very struck by the factual inaccuracies, false claims and exceptionally naïve assertions made by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie in her House of Commons speech this week. According to her, “if the Opposition had been correct about Brexit, the sky would have fallen in by now and dementors sporting EU flags would […]

The Day the Music Died?

Jane Riekemann

Write to us at When Big Ben rang in the New Year at midnight on 31 December 2020 it sounded the death knell of the transition period, the end of the UK’s membership of the Single Market and the start of the hard Brexit most were dreading. The first few months of 2021 have been […]


Businesses in Gloucester Road, Bristol tell us how they survived

Julian Greenbank

>>> With Video <<< Write to us at With over a year since the pandemic struck, how have independent businesses managed to weather the lockdowns and other restrictions? We took our cameras down the iconic Gloucester Road in Bristol and asked some business owners how it was for them. We got quite differing responses; two […]

Space to Breathe

Will Luker

Write to us at Political thinking in the UK is divided. Talk about current affairs, often enough leads to polarised thought. On all sides of the political divide and however we all vote is something that now seems to damage friendly debate. The political temperature especially during a pandemic and after a divisive referendum, is […]

Youth Ambassadors

A reader writes...

Dear Editor, On a relatively unremarkable, dreary lockdown Tuesday in mid-January, over 100 people in Cheltenham joined virtual workshops organised by Cheltenham Borough Council and local charity “Vision 21” to talk about climate change, emissions reduction and solutions. The resulting formation of the CheltenhamZero partnership aims to provide a collaborative group to support the council’s […]

Rural Communities cut off by Cuts!

George Richmond

Rural communities are a small proportion of our society, with only 17% of people living in rural areas in the UK, including myself. However isolation and loneliness are real issues for many in these communities. The pandemic has highlighted this isolation further and our post-Covid recovery offers a clear opportunity to tackle these issues. The […]

The “Colston Four” could become the “Mangrove Nine” of Bristol

Melissa Chemam

This Monday, 25 January 2021, four Bristolians went to court. Their crime: Tearing down the statue of the celebrated benefactor of the city from the 1700s, Edward Colston, merchant and slave trader. The event occurred in Bristol city centre during the most prominent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest, on 7 June 2020. A demonstration that […]

What’s on in West England Bylines Area

The Editor

Virtual events in your area from Oxford to Bristol and Hereford to Salisbury Ongoing               Well Child / Virtual fun for kids            Party Animals 26 January Oxford for Europe Jonathan Lis 27 January           Grassroots for Europe / Webinar          Gina Millar / Will Hutton 28 January           New Scientist / Big ideas in Physics      Ten Keys to Reality          2 February […]

The Disappearing Dogs of Lockdown

The Editor

Campaign for Wiltshire Police to Crack Down on Dog Theft  Liz Webster, Prospective Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon has launched a campaign to crack down on dog theft in Wiltshire amidst the worst ever year for dog thefts.  Criminals have taken advantage of an increase in demand for dogs caused by the […]


Jon Hill

West England Bylines would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year. We hope that you and your families can celebrate in some way and that you stay safe and well. We would like to celebrate a year in which we have made our voice heard […]

Love Local, Shop local, Eat Local

Martin Griffiths

When so much of our food and food influences have their origins in foreign fields, why should we shop local, buy local and eat local? International travel, Commonwealth legacies and European freedom of movement have developed our taste for a diverse range of flavours. Everyday products such as tea, coffee and spices, which were once […]

Can we regenerate and transform our towns by putting people at the centre?

Rick Page

The combined impact of Covid and on-line shopping on our town centres and those working in retail is clear as it is devastating and the evidence continues to mount with the demise of Arcadia and Debenhams to name but a few. It is also likely that post-Christmas other retailers will also fall and High Street […]

Legal Action launched to Save Stonehenge

The Editor

The news that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has green lighted a major expressway through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS) has bewildered, outraged and shocked people across the country and around the world.  The independent panel of planning inspectors for the A303 road scheme by Stonehenge concluded that the massive infrastructure would cause “substantial harm” […]

Upcoming Events in the “West England” Area

The Editor

Here’s a selection of upcoming events (some virtual) in our area – from Bristol to Oxford and Hereford to Salisbury. 8 December Oxford for Europe’s next Webinar An Evening With Chris Grey – “His blogs on relations with the EU have become the stuff of legend, and he has 50,000 followers on Twitter.” 12 December […]

Covid-19 and the Excluded Three Million

The Editor

Tewkesbury Labour Party is highlighting the dire straits of those people for whom the government’s Covid-19 support packages do not apply. And there are nearly three million of them. West England Bylines supports this action. Here are some extracts from their 19 November 2020 press release.                                        The plight of the nearly three million people who […]

Bristol Student Rent Strike forces U-turn on Bursary Withdrawal

The Editor

West England Bylines was informed that Bristol University were threatening students with taking funds from their bursaries to cover unpaid rent. The University sent an email to all students demanding rent arrears. The email said: If the debt remains outstanding and overdue for payment on 26th November 2020, the University will use some or all […]

The Stonehenge Alliance aims to stop the A303 tunnel

The Editor

The Stonehenge Alliance has been campaigning for several years to prevent the A303 tunnel scheme harming the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. Prior to the ministerial decision on 13 November, Stonehenge Alliance issued this Press Release. Press Release: Wednesday 11 November 2020 In advance of a decision on the Stonehenge tunnel scheme, expected on Friday […]

Why I do this

Guy Maughfling

I’m 58 years old. I come from a middle class, West Country non-conformist tradition: my father, senior partner for twenty years in a good sized Gloucestershire-Herefordshire accountancy practice was a paid up Liberal from Jo Grimond days, my mother, an outspoken 6th form English teacher, loved Attlee’s post-war government. I had a fabulous education at […]

African Art at the “Arnolfini”, Bristol

Melissa Chemam

Since September 2019, I have had the pleasure to be the writer in residence at the Arnolfini art gallery, here in Bristol, writing mainly on feminism, women artists and themes around resistance, worldwide. The exhibitions I covered include the feminist show ‘Still I Rise’, Amak Mahmoodian’s ‘Zanjir’, Angelica Mesiti’s ‘Assembly’ and later on, after the […]

Bristol Students’ Rent Strike

Melissa Chemam

This Friday, students from the University of Bristol announced that they were set for a rent strike over their treatment during current lockdown. “We’re calling a rent strike!!” the students’ union announced on their new Facebook page ‘Bristol, Cut The Rent’. This come from a group of students of all levels, from first years to […]

Letter from parents of university students to their MP

The Editor

Ed: We have reproduced this letter from 1st October in full and added our own cartoon to illustrate some of the issues. Dear [Ms Smyth} We are a group of south Bristol parents whose children are at university in different locations across the country (Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Belfast, Glasgow, London, with friends at many […]

NHS Workers: Why They Absolutely Deserve a Pay Rise

Melissa Chemam

While the media have failed to report it widely, NHS workers have already demonstrated twice since July. Marches took place in 30 cities on 8 August, bringing together thousands of people. NHS employees held a minute’s silence for the 640 colleagues who have died during the Coronavirus crisis. Then on Saturday, 12 September hundreds of […]

Meanwhile in the Countryside: Smells Like the Countryside

Marian Whittaker

Ah that fresh country air!  It’s what we all look forward to when we come out to the countryside, right?  New-mown hay, the scent of wildflowers … breathe deep and enjoy.  However, there are some variations on this theme. At this time of year, it’s time for the farmers to enrich the soil with errr […]

Meanwhile in the Countryside: King of the River

Marian Whittaker

Swans mate for life don’t they? We all know that. But then, that’s said of humans too and I think it’s fair to say that not all of us match up to the ideal. Here on the River Coln we are witnessing a daily drama that looks set to run as long as “The Archers”, […]

Will unitary authorities improve the “real life of people”?

George Richmond

Mo Mowlam once said that “it’s the real life of people that needs change”, and yet we see with this government that it’s not the ‘real life of people’ but the structures of government and the authorities, that apparently need ‘change’. Whilst structural reform can help to improve the delivery of changes for people, there […]

Binning the Withdrawal Agreement: Kruger’s “minor technical tweak”?

Stephen Stacey

Clinging tenaciously to the party line, Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, tells BBC Wiltshire that the government’s coyly named Internal Market Bill, introduced last week, contains only “minor technical tweaks” to protect the Good Friday peace deal. He’s wrong. Despite its innocuous title, the Bill is designed to evade key provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement; no more, no less. It does this by subordinating EU law to UK domestic […]

Letter to Wiltshire Conservatives

Andrew Milroy

Open Letter to Nick Stovold, Chair of Wiltshire Conservatives Dear Mr Stovold, The Conservative Party has always been seen as the party of Law and Order. Defending the Rule of Law. Alas no more. The party of Margaret Thatcher is disappearing under a tidal wave of corruption and sleaze. Margaret Thatcher proclaimed  in October 1996  […]

Bristol Community Radio Project

Melissa Chemam

Melissa Chemam has worked in radio since 2006, first as a guest cultural journalist and then as a reporter. Her first radio package was produced in Haiti, then she worked intensely in East and Central Africa, and more recently in Europe. When Melissa came to Bristol in 2015, she fell in love with its diversity, the […]

Oliver Ursus writes…

Oliver Ursus

Praise the Lords (and Ladies)“M’Lords and M’Ladies, here’s over three dozen new playmates. They include a Marxist, an IRA sympathiser, a paedophilia supporter (that’s all one person), failed pols who voted to leave the EU, sundry others who campaigned ditto, the party-giving son of a KGB spy, an overweight, already knighted cricketing Leaver, and a […]