Political peeps

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'One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors,' Plato

2021

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EAT:NAILSEA: North Somerset MP Liam Fox was among the throng to venture out for the Ab Fab street fair in Nailsea. The al fresco culinary event in the traffic free High Street and Somerset Square was a marvellous success on a sunny Saturday, October 9. See more photos of the food and drink festival in a slideshow in our gallery HERE and a video made by Mike James, of Nailsea Cider. Liam is pictured tasting homemade chocolate and perhaps a non-alcohol tipple? He also meet the Nailsea in Bloom gardeners launching the annual poppy appeal for the Royal British Legion which is featured on our BMD page HERE 

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Nailsea Town Council
finance and policy committee
unofficial digest from councillor James Steel

Nailsea Town Council met on Wednesday, September 29, for its finance and policy committee meeting. It wasn’t a packed agenda but there were some very interesting discussions and I’ve tried to highlight the points I felt may be of interest below.
We reviewed the latest income and expenditure report which can be found on the agenda. It is a detailed list of the town council budget and current spend.
The town clerk Jo Duffy made councillors aware that the town council will be receiving a £183,000 CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) payment soon. A CIL payment is a levy that North Somerset charge on new developments and Nailsea Town Council receives 15 per cent of the payments to spend locally on behalf of residents. 
More information on CIL can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/community-infrastructure-levy.
Councillors reviewed an overview of the Tithe Barn and No 65 High Street hire income so far this year which was interesting. These quarterly income reports are new this year created by finance & policy committee chairman Ben Kushner and also the town council staff in order to provide councillors a clearer understanding of quarterly hiring income.
The Tithe Barn’s income target is still a lot lower than pre-Covid but is on target so far this year boosted by some weddings that were delayed last year so fell into this year. The Tithe Barn can be hired for weddings, parties, celebrations, events and also by clubs and groups. 
No65 is behind its current target. As a service No65 was never intended to make a profit as the philosophy behind it is the social benefit it provides to residents. Based on the high street it’s a community building where Citizens Advice, Your Cancer Cafe, youth club, Nailsea Disability Initiative and other services meet to provide support to residents. 
The council also provide a techno timid and utilities switching service to residents that need support online.  

Councillors have been actively and continually working this year on ways to improve No65 both in the services it provides, the amount it is utilised and

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also its cost base. If you haven’t popped in yet please do so and find out more. Finally we discussed the business case provided by Memories At The Barn. This group run the memory cafe, music and memories and also their new venture the barn owls choir all aimed at providing dementia care and support. They do an absolutely amazing job supporting residents which I think all councillors are in awe of.
The info above is not the full agenda which can be found here: https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/.
The above is just my personal feedback on what I felt would be of interest and it is NOT an official statement from the town council.
More information on any item above can be found by contacting the town council offices on 01275 855277 or enquiries@nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk.

James Steel

What the papers say

Of the two ‘celeb’ features in the weekend newspapers we read we found Jason Donovan’s re-hash interview in The Guardian ‘boring’ but glad he is coming back to the Bristol Hippodrome with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

This is hitting the Bristol Hippodrome next summer.

Tickets here https://www.ents24.com/bristol-events/the-bristol-hippodrome/joseph-and-the-amazing-technicolor-dreamcoat/6336236.

However, the Sunday Times Fame And Fortune feature about our North Somerset MP Liam Fox who we haven’t seen since his 60th birthday party at the Carlton Club in London last week is a little more revealing.

This tells of his confession to being a ‘music addict’ although neither the aforementioned Aussie musical performer Jason nor pop star and rumoured old flame Natalie Imbruglia.are on his playlist.

The Tory MP and former GP who grew up in an East Kilbride council house loves martinis and art museums and says he has practically every 12-inch single from the 1980s, write journalist York Membery who wasn't at the birthday bash.

Liam also reveals his pay packet, an airline losing his shirt and more on a trip to South America and his love of Balvenie Caribbean Cask whisky.

Liam is quoted as saying: ‘My biggest payday was winning a libel case’.

He also describes his Scottish grandfather as ‘a dreadful socialist’ who preferred to save and then spend his coalminer earnings as he

abhorred credit.

To read the article in full online is not free as the Rupert Murdoch owned publication has a paywall.

It costs 86p a day to sign up.

Go to https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/liam-fox-my-biggest-payday-was-winning-a-libel-case-66w2krtgv or you could borrow the Nailsea People cutting?

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Friends across political pond

North Somerset MP Liam Fox is the new chairman of the Conservative Friends of America.
Founded by the Cornwall county councillor Tara Sherfield who represents Long Rock, Marazion and St Erth it is a member-led organisation helping to build on the special relationship between the Conservative Party, the British American community and America.

By becoming a member of Conservative Friends of America, it says people will play an important role in strengthening ties across the Atlantic. 

Liam said: "I am delighted to accept the position of UK Chair of Conservative Friends of America.

"It is a great honour to join this fantastic new group and I look forward to strengthening ties between our two nations.

"The membership is open to both UK and US residents."
To explore its membership benefits go to https://www.cfoa.uk/membership.
Dr Fox has also been appointed chair of the UK Abraham Accords Group and an ambassador between the UK and Bahrain, UAE and Israel.
Dr Fox is a former UK International Trade Secretary, Defence Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister and NHS doctor.  
He was also the UK’s nominee to be Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2020.

Hello and goodbye

Back on board in one man race, James Steel returns to Nailsea Town Council.

A vacancy was declared following the resignation after 13 years service of Jane Holt who works at Nailsea Waitrose.

In an uncontested election James was declared the new town councillor for Nailsea Golden Valley ward.

James a company director is a founder member of Nailsea Community Group formed to support residents during the Covid-19 crisis.

Following the signing of papers he will be officially welcomed into the position at the next Nailsea Town Council meeting on Wednesday, September 8, starting at 7.30pm.

For agenda papers go to https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/

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Liam Fox proposes bill to help people with Down’s syndrome

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PHOTOS: Ackley Bridge actor George Webster, North Somerset MP Liam Fox and Nailsea mum Annabel Tall

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has introduced a private members’ bill the called Down Syndrome Bill which he is hoping will become law.

Dr Fox MP was selected in a ballot of MPs to introduce a Bill on a subject of his choice in this Parliamentary session following the State Opening of Parliament by Her Majesty the Queen in May 2021.

Dr Fox has chosen to introduce a Down Syndrome Bill, which will be announced on the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday, June 16, and will be debated for Second Reading on Friday, November 26.

The Down Syndrome Bill will lead to the establishment of a National Strategy to improve provision and outcomes for all those living with Down syndrome in the UK.

The Autism Act which became law in 2009 preceded the establishment of the National Strategy to help meet the needs of adults with autistic spectrum conditions in England.

The Down Syndrome Act will go further, identifying needs in all areas, for all individuals with Down syndrome across the whole of the UK.

The National Down Syndrome Policy Group, in coalition with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Down Syndrome, has been lobbying for the long overdue Down Syndrome Act and have released a film featuring some of their Trustees who have Down syndrome, highlighting some of the areas where they hope to see positive change in the future.

Dr Liam Fox MP said: “I am thrilled to bring forward a Bill to deal with the issues faced by those with Down syndrome.

“The full title is ‘A Bill to make provision about meeting the needs of persons with Down syndrome; to place a duty on local authorities to assess the likely social care needs of persons with Down syndrome and plan provision accordingly; and for connected purposes’.

“My aim is to deal with three main areas.

The first is to de-stigmatise Down syndrome and to re-educate both the public and professionals about the advances, including in life expectancy, that have occurred in recent decades.

The second is to ensure that current provision of services is improved, whether provided by health, education or local services, by ensuring that providers give due consideration to those with Down syndrome when designing service provision.

The third is to look ahead and deal with future issues, such as long-term care, in an era where, for the first time, many of those with Down syndrome will outlive their parents.

"By giving due thought to the issues today we can prevent avoidable human tragedies in the future.”

National Down Syndrome Policy Group (NDSPG) trustee and Ackley Bridge actor George Webster said: “A Down Syndrome Act, why didn’t we think of this before?

“We are all very excited that Dr Liam Fox is sponsoring a Bill with the aim of improving the lives of people living with Down syndrome.

“I would like to see the Bill becoming law, then I think everyone like me with Down Syndrome will get better healthcare, more access to services and be more included in society.

“It is possible. It happens for some now, but it shouldn’t be a lottery.”NDSPG chair Peter Brackett said: "For too long the voice of the Down syndrome community has not been heard.

“We are delighted that the Down Syndrome Bill will enable engagement to

secure and safeguard the rights and ambitions of the community across all aspects of society.

“Having lobbied hard for this opportunity, our group will be fully behind Dr Liam Fox and the Down Syndrome Bill on its journey through Parliament, in line with our aim of raising the profile of issues affecting people with Down syndrome, their families and carers.”

Annabel Tall is the North Somerset constituency assistant for Dr Fox and is thrilled with the news.

She said: "I have worked for Liam for 10 years and first met him in 2006 when I visited his MP Surgery to ask for his help getting my son Freddie, who has Down syndrome, into our local school; into any school

"Over the years I have seen him help countless people with disabilities in our constituency achieve better lives.

"He has been a great friend to Freddie who is now a 22 year old young man, at college, training to work in hospitality and catering and thanks to Liam’s help, achieving thing I couldn’t have imagined.

"It has been a struggle to get people to see Freddie’s potential and to secure the support he needs.

"It has been my life long wish that others with Down syndrome should have the same opportunities and that it should be much easier to achieve."

 

What are Private Members' Bills?

 

Private Members' Bills are Public Bills introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers.

As with other Public Bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population.

There are three ways in which an MP can table a Private Members' Bill, but Ballot Bills have the best chance of becoming law, as they get priority for the limited amount of debating time available.

The names of MPs applying for a Bill are drawn in a ballot held at the beginning of the parliamentary session.

459 MPs entered the ballot and 20 were drawn. Normally, the first seven ballot Bills get a day's debate. Dr Fox was drawn in fourth place.

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Nailsea annual town meeting

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Forty Nailsea residents turned up for the annual town meeting on Friday, May 28, and 15 of those were councillors.

With a population of nearly 16,000 (you can’t council Backwell or The Elms which is in Wraxall) it wasn’t a great showing but then people are nervous in a post-pandemic, and it was the start of the bank holiday weekend.

However, it was an opportunity to reflect on ‘what was the year that was’ and for those who missed the event Nailsea People, who also was unable to attend, gives you all the details here.

Jan Barber who has served on the council since the 1980s had stepped into the breach as chairman for what she presumed would be a one-year term of office, but Covid-19 restrictions stretched this to two years.

She told the audience at Nailsea School in her report in an understated opening sentence: “What a year we have had.”

The purpose of the meeting is to honour our good and great and for 2020-21 it was Nailsea In Bloom stalwart Wendy Mobbs and 2nd Nailsea Scouts Group chairman Richard Simmons who plays with the folk group Twice Dailies at many charitable gigs.

Postponed

Mrs Barber said: “Our annual town meeting in April 2020 had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions and life is still not back to normal.

“With the lifting of some of the Covid restrictions we are now able to hold this meeting in person, but at a larger venue than the usual Tithe Barn.

“Since our last annual town meeting in 2019 we have had an election and there have been several changes to the composition of the town council. 

“One new councillor was elected, Chris Watts. 

“There were three wards in which councillors were elected unopposed and this resulted in four vacancies as insufficient residents had put themselves forward. 

“We co-opted four new councillors; Jo Hopkinson, Ben Kushner, Anita Smith and James Steel. 

“A long-standing member of council, John Wilson resigned as he moved to Cambridge and James Steel also resigned leaving us with two more co-options. 

“These were filled by Emily Miller and Anthony Hobbs. 

“We warmly welcomed all six new councillors.

“Tribute here needs to be paid to councillor Philip Barclay, a long standing member of the town council and past chairman, who decided to retire at the last election. 

“He has died aged 93 and we are going to plant trees in his memory to commemorate all the work he did through the many years of service.

“There have been several new initiatives undertaken by the new council. “The main one was to declare a Climate Emergency and, although there

GOOD AND TRUE: From top left councillor Mike Bird, scout leader Richard Simmons, councillor James Tonkin, development manager at 65 High Street Ian Morrell, team coordinator with volunteer gardeners Wendy Mobbs and last but not least councillors Jan Barber and Ben Kushner at holocaust memorial

has been a hold up due to lack of meetings due to Covid, our industrious working party is in the process of publishing a brochure on how individuals can cut their carbon footprint.

“We organised covers for the bicycle stands at Waitrose so more people may be able to ensure their bikes are not only secure, but dry. 

“There are various items which could form a code for sustainable homes, but these are almost certainly a matter of planning regulations and all we can do is lobby both central and local government. 

“We have been impressed by meeting other organisations how helpful they have been, particularly Nailsea School with its use of bamboo cutlery and scrutiny of the menu to ensure at least one day without meat. 

“The council has moved to greener energy suppliers and at Number 65 we are collecting food pouches for recycling.

“The landmark oak tree on the Village Green has had to be felled due to disease but I am pleased to report a tree sculpture reflecting the wildlife around Nailsea has been created from the remaining stump.

“The council is aiming to protect the land at The Perrings, at present a well-used open space but undesignated. 

“We are hoping it will be given town green status. 

“My thanks to the many residents who filled in the rather complicated questionnaire and showed great interest in this project.

“As I am sure you are aware, the council bought 65 High Street to use for the benefit of residents. 

“When the Covid 19 Help Group was set up at the start of lockdown last year, Number 65 was well used as a food bank.

“The town council supported the initiative by providing advice, funding and a phone hotline via our offices. 

“The re-named, Nailsea Community Group is now based at 26 Somerset Square and now runs not only the food bank, but the Community Larder, Nailsea Active and organises school meals during holidays, jigsaw puzzle library and many other such helpful enterprises. 

“Our thanks and appreciation goes to all those involved with these initiatives."

Mr Simmons gave a framed thank-you letter to North Somerset district and town councillor James Tonkin and Mr Morrell for their help securing freehold of the scout HQ.

  • See article below for an introduction to our new town council chairman and vice-chairman.

Nailsea's top councillors

The new chairman of Nailsea Town Council is Mike Bird who is also the Independent North Somerset ward councillor for Nailsea Yeo which is mostly the area to the north of the town but includes the High Street.

The vice-chairman is Emily Miller who was co-opted onto the town council a few months ago and has the vision of an arts centre and improved facilities for Nailsea.

Both were elected unopposed.

The annual town meeting was cancelled due to the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and has not yet been rearranged although we are told it will be sometime later in May.

This is not to be confused with Nailsea Town Council annual meeting - an AGM of sorts - when the new chairman and vice-chairman were elected.

This Zoom meeting on Wednesday evening also made other important decisions like who was going to judge the next best allotment competition - it will be councillors Dee Holbrook and Joanne Hopkinson - and that with the goal posts changing its planning vision for Nailsea needs a rethink.

Such was the concern about lack of school places with the impact of more homes that it was revealed the town council has written to North Somerset Council voicing its worries.

One councillor, Jeremy Blatchford who has previous been a district councillor responsible for education and young peoples services, said if the situation wasn't address he could see a situation similar to that in Long Ashton a few years ago when children were bussed to a schools in neighbouring towns. 

Mike has been an Independent Nailsea town councillor for six years, working on the planning committee and chairing the community engagement group. 

Since his early 20s, Mike has been involved in the community helping to run a youth group for many years and later serving as a governor at Nailsea School.

He took over the baton of chairman from Jan Barber who has held the role for the past two years.

Mike said: “I’d like to thank all those who have put their faith in me to take this council forward.  

“It will be my privilege to serve as chair of Nailsea Town Council and on behalf of the residents of Nailsea.  

“As I also represent Nailsea as North Somerset district councillor, I hope this will give weight to the voice of Nailsea residents locally.” 

Emily Miller was voted in as vice chair after only seven months as councillor, taking over from David Packham.

Emily has shown within a very short space of time an energy and love for the town.

She said: “I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to be vice chair of our town council.

“Having grown up in Nailsea I'm so passionate about our lovely town and I'm excited to keep working hard to improve facilities and opportunities for all who live here.”

A chairman and vice chairman is elected every May at the annual town council meeting.

The meeting was brought forward a week so that it could be held virtually before the current remote meeting legislation changes.

To find out more about Nailsea Town Council, visit www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk.

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Image by Elliott Stallion

Residents across Avon and Somerset Constabulary which includes Nailsea are going to the polls on Thursday, May 6, to elect a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The PCC elections are held every four years and the position has been held by Sue Mountstevens since 2012.

In January 2019 she announced that she would not seek re-election for a second time.

Ballots will be held on the same day as the local council elections but there are none for Nailsea and Backwill this time.

The candidates for the new Avon and Somerset PCC are:

  • Cleo Lake (Green). The former Lord Mayor of Bristol is a founding member of the Countering Colston campaign.

  • Kerry Barker (Lab). A barrister who has worked in criminal justice for many years - he came second in 2016.

  • Mark Shelford (Cons). Ex-Army officer and councillor. He has promised an immediate review into the efficiency of Avon and Somerset Police if elected.

  • Heather Shearer (Lib Dems). She is currently the vice chair of the police and crime panel that scrutinises the work of the PCC.

  • John Smith (Independent). The former deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has already taken to social media to promote the Conservative candidate.

The BBC has published a guide to what PCCs do in their official capacity which you can read HERE.

North Somerset Council has no Nailsea councillor on executive

Nailsea councillor James Tonkin has lost his top job as an executive member on North Somerset Council.

Mr Tonkin who is Independent ward councillor for Nailsea West End was seen as the champion of the controversial plan to close many country lanes to through traffic is still chairman of the planning, highways and transport committe.

This idea while on the backburner for ‘consultations’ hasn’t been abandoned.

It was announced on Tuesday evening, April 20, Mr Tonkin after one year on the executive was being replaced/sacked.

The new make-up of the council is:

Steve Bridger the Independent ward councillor for Yatton joins the executive as lead member for assets and capital delivery while adjustments are being made to other portfolios.

Mike Solomon the Independent ward councillor for Hutton and Locking becomes executive member for neighbourhoods and community services while Bridget Petty the Green Party ward councillor for Backwell will be executive member for climate emergency and engagement.

Parking scheme chief

There will also continue to be two assistant executive members with Nicola Holland who is the Independent ward councillor for Portishead West assisting with post Covid skills and education engagement and Robert Payne the Liberal Democrat ward councillor for Weston-super-Mare Centre supporting the delivery of local parking schemes.

There is no change to the political balance of the executive or to the overall number of executive members.

The changes are being introduced to ensure that the remit of each executive member is closely aligned to the council’s structure, making it easier for councillors and officers to work together to deliver the council’s priorities.

Cllr Davies said: “We are an ambitious council committed to delivering great services and improvements for the people of North Somerset.

“Rightly we have focused on supporting our communities through the pandemic over the past year, but it means we still have lots that we want to achieve over the next two years.

“It’s essential that we make it as easy as possible for our officers and senior councillors to work together so that we can achieve those goals.

“I am hugely grateful to James Tonkin and Geoff Richardson for the work they have both done for us, and also welcome Steve Bridger to the executive team and Cllr Payne as assistant executive member.”

The changes to the executive come into effect on Wednesday, April 21.

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ON YER BIKE: James Tonkin championed traffic free country lanes

and the closure of Nailsea High street

The full top team:

  • Cllr Don Davies - Leader of the Council (Independent Pill)

  • Cllr Mike Bell - Deputy Leader of the Council (Lib Dem Weston-super-Mare Central) Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing

  • Cllr Catherine Gibbons (Labour Party Weston-super-Mare Milton) Executive Member for Children’s Services and Lifelong learning

  • Cllr Nicola Holland (Independent Portishead West) Assistant Executive Member Post Covid Education and Skills recovery

  • Cllr Ash Cartman (Lib Dem Long Ashton) Executive Member for Corporate Services

  • Cllr Bridget Petty (Green Party Backwell) Executive Member for Climate Emergency and Engagement

  • Cllr Mark Canniford (Lib Dem Weston-super-Mare Hillside) Executive Member for Placemaking and Economy

  • Cllr Robert Payne (Lib Dem Weston-super-Mare Central) Assistant Executive Member Parking strategy and delivery

  • Cllr Mike Solomon (Independent Hutton and Locking)

  • Cllr Steve Bridger (Independent Yatton) Executive Member for Assets and Capital Delivery

Nailsea cancels town council meetings 

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HM the Queen is back at 'work' just days after the death of her husband HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh but council meetings up and down the country remain cancelled.

The ever dutiful Queen Elizabeth II returns to royal duties on Wednesday, April 14, to mark the retirement of her household's most senior official Earl Peel.

The Duke of Edinburgh passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle aged 99 and the televised funeral details for Saturday are on the Nailsea People BMD page HERE.

Nailsea Town Council which is flying the Station Road Union flag at half-mast is among those whose scheduled Zoom meetings cannot go ahead due to national mourning after the death of Prince Philip.

The council cannot legally hold any meetings without giving three clear working days’ notice after issuing an agenda.

However, days during a period of national mourning are not classed as working days to allow sufficient notice.

Re-arranged dates including when the annual town meeting will be held have not been announced.

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2020

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North Somerset MP Liam Fox is out of the race to be the next leader of the World Trade Organisation.

The Telegraph was first with the news on Thursday morning, October 8.

Dr Fox who was nominated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson made it to the last five out of a field of eight candidates.

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee will go head-to-head to become the trade body's first female director-general.

COUNCILLOR RESIGNS: James Steel is now chairman and a founder member of Nailsea Community Group formerly the Covid-19 Help Group. He said: "I remain 100 per cent committed to supporting Nailsea but I simply didn’t feel I could commit the time required to represent Nailsea effectively as a councillor alongside my role in the community group and I feel at this moment in time my role within the community group has to take priority. I truly enjoyed my short time as a town councillor and I would strongly urge anyone interested in working to improve Nailsea to put themselves forward for its two current vacancies. I look forward to working closely with the town council as a resident and as part of the Nailsea Community Group and can only thank them for their continued support." James is the nonchalant chap pictured at the back of this photo taken by Nailsea People at the NCG former base at 65 High Street before taking up residency at 26 Somerset Square.

MP going for global job

On Wednesday, July 8, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson nominated former International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox as the next director general of the World Trade Organization.

This follows an announcement earlier this year that the WTO’s current director general, Roberto Azevedo would step down from his post in August, following seven years in charge.

Dr Fox boasts significant political and diplomatic experience in the field of global trade.

In support of his nomination the North Somerset MP who lives at Tickenham produced a 14-page document which you can read HERE

Dr Fox entered the House of Commons in 1992 from a sagfe Conservative seat and has since served in a wide range of posts in both government and opposition.

In the government of Prime Minister John Major, he served as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and then as Minister in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office where he answered on Trade and Aid Policy in the House of Commons.

It was during this time that he worked extensively on what became known as the ‘Fox agreement’ in Sri Lanka, designed to help foster the conditions in which a negotiated solution to the country’s civil war could be achieved.

Because WTO decisions are made by member states the director general has little power over policy matters and the role is primarily advisory and managerial.

The director general supervises the WTO secretariat of approximately 700 staff and is appointed by WTO members for a term of four years.

The current incumbent was paid a salary of 300,000 Swiss francs and an allowance of 200,000.

If elected Dr Fox would have to resign his parliamentary seat necessitating and by-election.

The eight candidates made their presentations in the order in which their candidatures were received.

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Fox on flying from Bristol

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has spoken out on the plans to expand Bristol Airport - be it 18 months after they were published -  and it is nothing to do with his Tickenham home being directly under the flight path.

The controversial plans would see the airport able to handle 12 million passengers a year, up from its capacity of 10 million.

It includes proposals to build a covered pedestrian walkway at the front of the building, more parking spaces and changes to the road layout on the site.

And this comes from an MP who in 18 months in 2017-2018 clocked up 219,000 air miles visitng 27 countries on government business, according to The Telegraph newspaper.

The airport scheme has proved highly controversial with neighbouring communities and climate campaigners and the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE) group has said giving the green light to the expansion scheme would be a life sentence for villages neighbouring the airport.

Last week it was announced that North Somerset Council planning officers have recommended the application for approval.

The application has 5,400 objections and 2,200 letters of support.

In a letter to the chief executive of North Somerset Council, the Conservative MP has raised a number of concerns about the expansion plans under the headings local economy, transport infrastructure, parking and noise.

A final decision on the plans will be made at a special meeting of the council’s planning committee on Monday, February 10.

The meeting will start at 6pm at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall.

Here is Dr Fox's letter to North Somerset Council chief executive Jo Walker in full:

 

Dear Mrs Walker, I know that North Somerset Council will shortly be examining plans for  the expansion of Bristol International Airport.  I wish to make the following observations to this issue and would be grateful if they could be included.

 

BRISTOL AIRPORT EXPANSION

Bristol International Airport has been a great amenity and facility for our region and its people, including those in my constituency of North Somerset. It has improved our transport links, especially to Europe, and has been particularly popular with leisure travelers,  including those taking family holidays. From a small regional hub it has successfully transformed into a genuinely international airport and has supported a large number of jobs both directly and indirectly.

Despite the difficulties that result from its natural topographical position and lack of direct transport links, the 2011 planning permission allows the airport to expand to 10 million passengers per annum. It is clear, however, that expansion cannot continue indefinitely so the question becomes one of balance. What is a reasonable limit for expansion that will ensure, on one hand, the viability of the airport and potential support for the local and regional economy without, on the other, creating undue pressure on the local environment and its population?

In its consultation document, “Aviation 2050: the future of UK aviation”, the government set out a number of aims and tests for regional aviation.

 

LOCAL ECONOMY

In terms of the local economy the document pointed out that “airports can directly support thousands of jobs and generate economic benefits beyond the airport fence. Core and specialist aviation services, freight companies, logistics hubs and aerospace investment are often located close to airports, creating jobs in the local area. Regional airports also act as wider magnets attracting non-aviation businesses due to the air connections the airport offers but also the strong road and rail access links that support the airport. They act as a gateway to international opportunities for the regions of the UK”.

It is undoubtedly true that airports not only support jobs directly but can indirectly stimulate the local economy creating new companies and more employment opportunities. However, there are major restrictions on road access links in the case of Bristol airport and there are no rail access links at all.

A second aim set out in the document states that “the government recognises the importance of rebalancing the UK economy through the economic growth of the regions and ensuring that the UK remains competitive after we leave the EU. Through the Industrial Strategy, the government has set out its ambition to create a geographically-balanced economy that works for everyone”.There are few, if any, who do not want to see a rebalancing of the economy across the UK, but one of the key issues that Bristol airport needs to address is the very small number of business passengers, as a proportion of the total, who pass through the airport. The proximity of London Heathrow with its far more frequent services and wider range of destinations makes it a much more natural entry and exit point for business travellers. This is likely to become more so as the newly improved rail service from Bristol is connected directly with Heathrow. It is hard therefore to make the case that expansion of Bristol airport would lead to an improvement in the regional economy. It is highly likely that major international investors will continue to come via London, not least because of its world leading financial services.

/continued ...

LOCAL TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

Perhaps the single biggest impediment to expansion passenger numbers at Bristol airport is the local transport infrastructure. Our historical legacy, for a number of reasons, is that our major transport routes run from north to south – the M5, A370 and A38. There are no major West to East roads and so passengers coming to the airport have to travel through local towns and villages where there has been a major impact on road traffic. This is unavoidable when around 85% of Bristol airport passengers come by road transport. Figures produced by the airport show the following regional distribution for its passengers: West of England 35%, South Wales 20%, Devon 14%, Somerset 10%, Gloucestershire 7%, Wiltshire 7%, Cornwall 5%, Dorset 2%.

This means that a large number of passengers have to come via the M5 and leave at junctions 18, 19, 20 and 21. New restrictions in Bristol on air pollution from vehicles is likely to increase the amount of traffic using junctions 19 (already overcrowded due to the considerable expansion of Portishead), 20 and 21. This will mean considerable additional pressure on local roads which will have knock-on effects on roadside pollution and potentially on road safety where local schools are situated adjacent to main roads.

It seems that the lack of road transport is the most important rate limiting step in potential expansion. It is difficult to envisage the level of improved road provision that would change this position or how much it might cost the taxpayer. A rail link is highly unlikely due to the topography and improved bus links from central Bristol will not be effective given the geographical starting point of passengers.

If this problem cannot be solved, it is difficult to see how further expansion beyond the current limit of 10 million passengers could be justified.

NOISE

Modern aircraft have become much quieter and future technological change should improve the position even further. While aircraft noise is not an issue for the vast majority of passengers who use Bristol airport and usually not an issue for most North Somerset residents, it can produce a significant reduction in the quality-of-life for those who live directly under the flight path or adjacent to the airport itself. There has been a recent pattern of routinely setting noise caps as part of planning approvals (for increase in passengers or flights). Limiting the impact of noise must be a major consideration when determining the potential expansion of passenger numbers at Bristol airport.

The government’s consultation document states that “the aim is to balance noise and growth and to provide future certainty over noise levels to communities. It is important that caps are subject to periodic review to ensure they remain relevant and continue to strike a fair balance by taking account of actual growth and the introduction of new aircraft technology. It is equally important that there are appropriate compliance mechanisms in case such caps are breached and the government wants to explore mechanisms by which airports could ‘pay for’ additional growth by means of local compensation as an alternative to the current sanctions available “.

Government plans will require all major airports to set out a plan which commits to future noise reduction, and to review this periodically. This would only apply to airports which do not have a noise cap approved through the planning system and would provide similar certainty to communities on future noise levels. The government wants to see better noise monitoring and a mechanism to enforce these targets as for noise caps.

The noise action planning process could potentially be developed to provide the basis for such reviews, backed up by additional powers as necessary for either central or local government or the CAA. In order to help facilitate these changes the government has established a new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise. ICCAN will advise the government on best practice on noise mitigation, and how the needs of affected communities can best be served in the airspace modernisation programme. The government has committed to review ICCAN’s powers within two years and this will include the possibility of putting it on a statutory footing. I would support this as I believe it has the potential to act as an empowering mechanism for local communities in the future.

PARKING

One of the most controversial aspects of the current expansion to 10 million passengers at Bristol airport relates to parking at the airport itself and its impact on local villages. Until the full parking facilities, promised by the airport’s owners and management, which were part of the previous conditions on expansion are met, it is reasonable to rule out any further expansion. The net effect of inadequate parking provision within the airport perimeter has been the displacement of parking into illegal sites, including on greenbelt, which has been difficult and expensive for the local authority to police. Residents of local villages have seen airport passengers park outside their properties, often for long periods, and use taxi services to and from the airport. The development of a substantial park-and-ride facility adjacent to the M5, which has been proposed and which I support, could see not only improved parking opportunities but would enable the use of more environmentally friendly transport with far fewer vehicle movements through adjacent villages and residential areas.

These issues are all directly applicable to this particular planning process and do not take account of generic issues surrounding aviation which are widely discussed elsewhere. It is essential that these specific problems are addressed by airport authorities and North Somerset Council before any decision on Bristol Airport Limited’s current planning application is taken.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Liam Fox

NEW YEAR'S HONOUR: North Somerset MP Liam Fox has congratulated Ione Douglas on receiving an MBE in the New Years’ Honours List for Public, Political and Parliamentary services during the past 50 years. Ione has worked for Dr Fox and the constituents of North Somerset for more than 20 years. However, Ione first started working for the Conservative Party in 1966 and has worked for several notable politicians such Cecil Parkinson, Major Sir Hugh Fraser, Sir Bill Cash, Lord (John) Cope and William Waldegrave before starting work for Dr Fox in 1998. Dr Fox said “I am absolutely delighted that Ione’s outstanding and relentless hard work to public service has been recognised in this way. I have held over 450 surgeries and seen over 8,000 individual constituents since becoming an MP and I cannot count the number of constituents who have written or come to one of my surgeries who have later thanked me for all the work Ione has done on their behalf." Many Nailsea people joined in the congratulations on the Nailsea People Facebook page including Richard Hendricks who said: "Absolutely brilliant Mrs Douglas has been so helpful to my daughter in particular over the last few years if ever an award was deserved it is this one. Congratulations Ione you’re a star!" and Courtenay Collins who said: "Ione, you help me get back one my feet and back to work. So it’s well deserved. Thank you."

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2019

General election 2019

The Conservatives have won their biggest majority since 1987 in the 2019 general election.

North Somerset returned Liam Fox to parliament with more votes than ever.

The Conservative won 52.9 per cent of the vote.

he MP served as Secretary of State for International Trade from 2016 to 2019 and Secretary of State for Defence from 2010 to 2011.

His vote share is down 1.3 per cent from the 2017 election.

Dr Fox now has a comfortable majority of 17,536.

Dr Fox tweeted his thanks to Conservative voters while thanking his team and staff on duty at Hutton count he also magnanimously thanked fellow candidates saying their willingness to fight in this ‘safe seat’ is what makes democracy function.

Labour's Hannah Young was his nearest rival and she got 24.6 per cent of the vote with 15,265.

This was two per cent lower than in 2017, reflecting the national poor performance from Labour.

Boris Johnson has returned to power as Prime Minister with a huge majority, after winning scores of seats off Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.

Liam Fox (Conservative): 32,801
Hannah Young (Labour): 15,265
Ashley Cartman (Liberal Democrat): 11,051
Phil Neave (Greens): 2,938

Liberal Democrat Ashley Cartman got 11,051 votes in North Somerset with 17.8 per cent.

This was an increase of 8.2 per cent for the Liberal Democrats locally on a night when the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in East Dunbartonshire.

The Green candidate Phil Neve got 4.7 per cent with 2,938 votes.

This was a small increase of 1.5 per cent for the Green candidate.

The turnout in Somerset North was 77.4 per cent of the 80,194 registered voters up four per cent from 2017.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promotes Nailsea man and former army officer the MP for Wells James Heappey to Minister for Defence Procurement.

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SCHOOL HUSTINGS: Backwell School hustings proved to be a lively debate on Tuesday lunchtime for sixth form students when candidates Ashley Cartman (Lib Dem). Phil Neve (Green) and Hannah Young (Labour) came to answer questions. Liam Fox (Conservative) couldn't make this date. Subjects centred on Brstiol Airport expansion, tax avoidance, tuition frees and Brexit. 

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Nailsea hustings

Nailsea Churches Together hosted hustings on Tuesday night with all four North Somerset candidates.

Nailsea People is told this was also lively with Dr Fox actually getting 'heckled' and Dr Young giving a sterling performance which was reported by a Green Party supporter who said 'she is amazing, great credentials, great talker and if anyone can look after herself it’s a woman with a black belt.'

However most conceded the audience was 'loaded' by people with left-wing leanings.

Meantime Dr Fox has been campaigning hard and Facebook commentators have been lamenting the opposition vote has been split between three worthy opponents.

One campaign group has developed a 'ranking' for MPs called the People Power Index.

Petition hosting website change.org has developed a scoring system based on a number of factors, including how 'available' an MP has been, Parliamentary participation and campaigning efforts from 2017-19.

And guess what the Nailsea ex-Army man who ousted Lib Dem Tessa Munt at the last election hasn't fared well. 

Here are some of the people we know and their rankings:

  • 5th Tracey Crouch - Chatham and Aylesford (Conservative)

  • 42nd Liam Fox - North Somerset (Conservative)

  • 365th John Penrose - Weston-super-Mare (Conservative)

  • 633rd James Heappey - Wells (Conservative)

To read the rankings in full click HERE.​

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ALTOGETHER NOW: General Election Husting for the North Somerset Constituency is on Tuesday, December 3, at Nailsea Methodist Church, Silver Street. Doors open 6.30pm, husting starts 7pm prompt. Questions in advance by email to peter.burns@nailseabaptist.com

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SEASIDE COUNT: Dr Liam Fox MP is cross that North Somerset Council isn't holding the General Election count in his constituency. Instead the former GP will have to trapse down to Weston-super-Mare to hear the result declared.

Dr Fox said “It seems to me they will need the same number of people to do the counting simultaneously whether they are in the same location or not.

The North Somerset seat has been held by Dr Fox who lives at Tickenham for the Conservatives, since 1992.

In his election leaflet he says his priortites are:

  1. Get Brexit Done - end the uncertainty, it is time to stop dithering and start to focus on our future relationship with the EU

  2. A Strong Economy - locally and nationally. Only a strong economy built on sound finances with provide the spending on policing, education and health that we want to see and the investment on the vital infrastructure that we need

  3. Balanced Housing for North Somerset - getting young people on the housing ladder but that new housing must be matched with infrastructure or exisitng communities will see their quality of life reduced

  • Ann Tarr, who lives in Portishead, withdrew as the candidate for the Brexit Party as requested by leader Nigel Farage.

Labour ready to fight Fox

North Somerset Labour Party has selected Hannah Young, a Clevedon town councillor, and a black belt at karate to challenge Conservative MP Liam Fox for the seat at the next election.

More than 700 party members were invited to a hustings at Clevedon Community Centre to choose from five candidates from North Somerset, Weston-super-Mare and Bristol.

Hannah has lived in the constituency for more than14 years and worked locally in police, health and mental health services.

For four years she also volunteered at a charity supporting homeless people.

Hannah saidf: "I’m excited to have the chance to give North Somerset residents a new voice in Parliament to advocate for our local communities.

"I’ve spent many years working to ensure that people continue to have access to good local services throughout the period of austerity.

"One thing I love about living in North Somerset is that people give so much of their time and energy to maintaining and improving our communities.

"But I am saddened that we still see big inequalities in access to housing, education, health and care.

"We now need stronger national action to help us to address the huge challenge of climate breakdown and to invest in the core services that enable people to build happy and fulfilled lives.'

North Somerset Labour Party chair Angela Everitt said: "I’m delighted that our parliamentary candidate is a local young woman who has such strong experience of working within our communities.

"As a fellow councillor on Clevedon Town Council, I’ve been really impressed to see the way that Hannah advocates for local people as well as bringing her professional expertise to chairing the Finance and General Purposes Committee.'

Hannah, aged 46, has also worked locally in police, health and mental health services.

She has a law degree and doctorate in mental health law and criminal justice.

Hannah worked in policing from 2007-17, first  with Avon & Somerset Constabulary coordinating development of community engagement, partnership working and service improvement.

There, in response to austerity, Hannah devised and led a programme of work, Public First, to preserve frontline policing services in the context of significant government cuts.

She went on to head transformation and the corporate services at Gloucestershire Police, where she was also the executive board lead for finance, people, staff wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

In 2017 Hannah became a non-executive director of North Somerset Community Partnership, which runs local community health services.

Since 2018 Hannah has run her own business providing support to ‘not-for-profit’ social enterprises, charities and community organisations to grow their services and sustainability.

Through this, she has recently managed implementation of a local mental health service in North Somerset and supported set-up of a new homelessness and complex needs service in Somerset.

Hannah is also a director of not-for-profit enterprise that supports young people from less advantaged areas into employment.

And as an associate member of the Association of Special Constabulary Officers she supported the volunteer group becoming a national charity.

In her spare time, Hannah is a keen walker and can often be seen with husband and much-loved dog Ricky on the coast path, in the Gordano Valley, or along the rivers and rhynes.

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Lib Dem ready to fight Fox

RESULTS FOR 2010

Conservative Dr Liam Fox 28,549

Liberal Democrat Brian Mathew 20,687

Labour Steve Parry-Hearn 6,448

UKIP Sue Taylor 2,257

 

RESULTS FOR 2015

Conservative Party - Liam Fox, 31,540

Labour Party - Greg Chambers 8,441

UKIP Ian Kealey 7,669

Liberal Democrat Marcus Kravis 7,486

Green David Derbyshire 3,806

 

RESULTS FOR 2017

Conservative Party - Liam Fox, 33,605 votes

Labour Party - Greg Chambers 16,502 votes

Liberal Democrats - Richard Foord, 5,982 votes

Independent - Donald Davies 3,929 votes

Green Party - Charley Pattison 1,976 votes

The Liberal Democrats aren’t waiting for a general election to be called and launched its North Somerset campaign in a Nailsea pub on Friday night.

North Somerset councillor Ashley Cartman announced he will stand for the seat held by Conservative MP Liam Fox since1992.

More than 60 people turned up to the meeting at the Old Farmhouse to hear that in the political opinion polls Ashley is only two percent behind Dr Fox.

Buoyed by the district council elections when the Conservatives were almost routed, defeated Tory council leader Nigel Ashton blamed central government and not least the Brexit fiasco for the bad showing of his party in local elections.

Ashley set out his ambitions to represent the North Somerset seat in Parliament, which controversially voted 52.4 per cent to remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum; a fact he said that has never been fully acknowledged by its incumbent Brexiteer MP, Dr Fox. 

In a speech to launch his candidacy, Ashley told party members that it is time for North Somerset to have a Parliamentary member who is prepared to be a strong voice for North Somerset, standing up for the values, beliefs and needs of its constituents.

Members were excited by the latest YouGov opinion poll which puts Lib Dem support in North Somerset at 33 per cent, just two percent behind Liam Fox on 35 per cent.

Ash is 46, is married with four children aged between 12-18 and the family live at Long Ashton.

Two of the teenagers now at St Mary Redcliffe, went to school in Backwell up to GCSEs.

The chartered accountant told his audience in Nailsea: “We all deserve better from our MPs.

Fairer future

 “I want my candidacy to represent a significant shift towards delivering on the public demand for transparency and trust in politics, and I will work to deliver a brighter, fairer future for all.

“Let’s reimagine a future that takes this country in a different direction - one that inspires and motivates people to work together, instead of against one another.

“Let’s put green policies at the heart of government, and measure success not just by GDP but on the basis of wellbeing.”

He went on to talk about his position on important local issues, opposing further expansion of Bristol Airport on the grounds of a climate emergency, arguing for fairer funding for our schools. And supporting improved rail transport links into Portishead.

Ashley Cartman joined the Lib Dems in 2010 and has been a parish councillor since 2017.

He was elected to North Somerset Council in May 2019 and is part of the executive team responsible for the council finances.

On the thorny question of Brexit he said: “Even though my instinct is to seek compromise and to have another public vote - any general election called prior to leaving the European Union will effectively be that vote, and the Liberal Democrats have always been the party of remain, so we must offer voters that choice.”

“The results can then give an updated mandate on the county’s wishes, more than three years after the referendum on EU membership.    

“I would particularly encourage younger voters to get registered to vote and have their say, as many will not have been old enough to vote in the referendum but now have the chance to make their voices heard on Brexit in the next general election.”

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Any Questions? asked by Backwell School audience

It was a very polite, packed to the rafters audience for the BBC Radio 4 Any Questions edition which was broadcast live from Backwell School on Friday night, October 4.

There was enthusiastic clapping and some cheering throughout with any booing saved until the very last for just one controversial panellist.

On the panel was Brexit leader Nigel Farage MEP, Labour Party shadow secretary of state for international trade Barry Gardiner, award-winning author Jeanette Winterson and in a late swap Conservative Party justice secretary Robert Buckland QC instead of Tory MP Nicky Morgan MP with no reason given.

Headteacher Jon Nunes welcomed everyone and said this was a very prestigious event for the school ranked as one of the top state schools in the country.

Before the pre-broadcast warm-up was done by a former member of the Any Questions small production team who happened to be a mum to a student at the North Somerset comprehensive the main school theatre had reverberated to loud BBC theme music from a variety of its shows.

Now in its 71st year there are 48 radio shows a year. Any Questions? was first broadcast in October 1948 in the West of England, before broadcasting nationally in 1950.

The programme has broadcast on BBC Radio 4 since April 1970.

According to Wikipedia originally the panel was far more diverse, usually a clergyman, a trade unionist, an academic or journalist and one politician.

Presenter Jonathan Dimbleby stepped down after 32 years in June and in answer to the question who should replace him a wag in the audience shouted out ‘Nicholas Parsons’.

We made do with British journalist and presenter of The World This Weekend and The World at One on BBC Radio 4 Shaun Ley for the evening.

He described the panel as ‘robust’.

Public school

The threat of hundreds of pre-debate protesters outside the comprehensive was in fact a muted affair with only one carrying a Brexit supporting placard and approximately 30 pro-EU flag waving people of all ages - not a milkshake in sight…

Ten questions submitted on arrival by the audience were chosen but first the panel were asked what would be written on their epitaph which provoked some hilarity.

However, all the usual topics were covered from EU membership, Nhs, British farming, climate change and the serious decline in wildlife in our countryside.

With the government on a spend, spend, spend spree there were questions about the location of the ‘magic money tree’, concerns about the trillions now owed despite Mr Johnson telling the Conservative conference that ‘we have wiped out the national debt’ and criticism of the George Osborne school of economics when he was Conservative chancellor from 2010-16.

Mr Farage predicted a recession and said now was a good time to invest in infrastructure on borrow money but added that although the annual deficit was under control the national debt now stands at £1.9 trillion and rising.

Mr Farage attributed Mr Johnson elevation to Prime Minister to the ‘birth and rapid rise’ of the Brexit Party, Mr Buckland called for a tempering of language in parliament, Ms Winterson lamented the wasted time and energy spent on Brexit with more important national and international matters pending and Mr Gardiner said the charitable status of public schools ‘getting an undeserved subsidy’ would be reviewed by a new Labour Party government.

Except for Ms Winterson all the panel had attended public schools, said Mr Ley who went to a state school in Devon.

Answers were peppered with personal anecdotes from car washing to insect bites.

The biggest spat was between Mr Farage who said the Labour Party was in the hands of the ‘Marxists’ and Ms Winterson who called for an increase in company tax citing the affect austerity had those with the least means.

Mr Buckland called for ‘civilised and proper debates’ without banding about words like ‘liar’ and worse and for all to come together as a parliament and as a country.

Mr Farage was adamant he wanted out of the EU full stop and what was currently on offer was a new treaty akin to ‘putting lipstick on a pig’.

Unlike the referendum the audience split was mostly in favour of staying in the EU.

At the end of the 50 minutes on air Mr Farage scurried off while the others stayed to talk to the audience and pose for photos.

You can listen to the programme in full on the BBC Radio 4 podcast here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrtn5/episodes/downloads