Section: West England

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

Andy 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 […]

Notes from the countryside…foxes

Marian Whittaker

What’s your opinion of foxes? Urban scavengers? Varmints? Cute and cuddley? I would ask my chickens – but alas they are no longer here to give a view, Charlie Fox having paid us a visit on Saturday night. It was my own fault, distracted by grandchildren I went to shut the chickens IN for the […]

We neglect British farming at our peril

Liz Webster

After much obfuscation, Brexit has finally revealed itself to be a choice between Europe and America. Britain suffers with over confidence and under confidence simultaneously.  There is a repetitive theme in British culture of superciliousness – “we are better than everyone else” – which runs in parallel with a constant hankering to be like other […]

Oliver Ursus writes…

Oliver Ursus

Woke up, fell out of bed/ Dragged a comb across my head/ Found my way downstairs. . . and switched on Twitter. Not a good habit but one I can’t, yet, shake. First, check to see if the editor’s tweeted anything (yeah, right), then scroll through and always, but always, stop at the Auschwitz Memorial […]

For Airbus a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would be disastrous

Robert Whitfield

So, 30 June 2020 has passed, we have not asked for an extension to the Brexit Transition Agreement, and we now have until this coming October to finalise the terms of our relationship with the European Union. If we fail to agree a deal, suppliers across the land will be deeply affected – not least […]

Bristol rises – new city, bright future

Melissa Chemam

Summer is finally at its height, and with it Bristol seems again to be embracing a feeling of optimism. After an unpredictably hard start to the year and the worst crisis in decades, its businesses want to start over, its restaurants, pubs and shops are reopening, and art galleries are back with a thrilling programme […]

‘No-deal’ threat sends shudders through Gloucestershire farmers

Martin Griffiths

Gloucestershire has a rich history of sheep farming and Brexit is already putting it at risk. From the Cotswolds to the Forest of Dean, sheep farming is not only a major industry but it also supports many subsectors, including the processing of the meat, animal foodstuffs, transport firms and tourism. Brexit is already having a […]

Undermining the rule of law: Buckland, Begum and my son

Liz Webster

I was relieved to hear the recent Court of Appeal ruling that Shamima Begum should be allowed to return home to appeal the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship. The fact that she has to fight to regain her citizenship is ludicrous and potentially dangerous. If she fails, the repercussions will be extensive […]

Playing Russian roulette with our nation’s future…

A reader writes...

Dear West England Bylines Recently, we played host via Zoom to Dominic Grieve and Michael Dougan. The main focus of questioners was of course the Russia report, of which Dominic was the principal author. Though at the time he was unable to disclose the contents of the report, he was very clear in his views […]

Barnier’s integrity exposes Brexit’s hollow mantras

Clare Moody

…“However, let me underline that what matters more than the format of the talks is progress on substance”… This line from Michel Barnier’s letter of 10 July 2020 to the MP and chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, Mark Francois, picks at a thread that has stretched throughout the Brexit process – from the […]

Germany will not pander to UK folly

Helmut Hubel

The British government appears determined not to prolong the interim period for negotiating a trade deal with the EU, and equally determined to leave the Union at the end of 2020, with or without an agreement on future relations. The second half of this year will therefore see the endgame in the EU-UK relationship. Germany […]

Where have all the ‘bEUrets’ gone?

Jane Riekemann

On the morning of 1 February 2020, as scenes of the previous night’s Brexit celebrations were being broadcast on the news, our Bath for Europe twitter feed was inundated with posts on the ‘Still here? Time to piss off and go home’ theme. Following the December 2019 General Election the mood was grim and, for […]


Adrian Mealing

Catching up on Normal Peopleone of those steamy interludesof heightened energy. Who does the sound effects?Overdid the carafe at tea-timePause. Be right back Max the fish man from Grimsbyhauls his crabs to Middle EnglandI see dad clowning in MacFisheriesfilleting a mackerel me aged five. Oh, no doshPause. Be right back, Max Transitioning out of Europenot […]

Paradise is a Cheltenham industrial estate

Guy Maughfling

In France, a skinny man died of a big disease with a little nameBy chance his girlfriend came across a needle and soon she did the samePrince: Sign O The Times At the end of January I was on a conference call in a hotel room in Prague discussing the logistics for a six month […]

So, what really happens if there’s ‘no deal’?

Hadrian Cook

‘Resilience’ is an interesting word. I am used to hearing it deployed in connection with the climate crisis, particularly as it affects low-lying communities vulnerable to flooding, the word implying a capacity to recover from a catastrophe that may seem intractable due to social, environmental, and economic trauma and stress the crisis may cause. In […]

Colston’s fall marks the beginning of the future

Eric Gates

In the aftermath of the slave-trader Edward Colston’s impromptu swim in Bristol’s Floating Harbour on 7 June, the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, set the tone of what the city authorities intended to do next, when he said: “We’ll retrieve the statue and take it to one of our museums where it will be assessed […]