Singing in the Rain
An underlying theme for the week for most people has been the incessant rain. Fortunately we
have not suffered like some areas in the north of the country but it has permeated all area of our
For those of you who follow Wimbled
on, most of the games have been punctuated by long spells
of rain and the fear that suddenly Cliff Richard might appear strumming a tennis racket and singing
excerpts from Summer Holiday.
More technically the one day cricket test matches with the West Ind
ies have featured constant
reference to the Duckworth Lewis method,
a mathematical formula for determining who wins in
the event that the game is curtailed by rain. (Which I also understand is being used to decide the
outcome of the Local Government Revi
What is endearing about the British is how we continue to behave as if the weather remains
For example, recently I was watching my next door neighbour mowing his grass in the pouring rain
and glancing hopefully up to the sky abov
e which remained stubbornly a sombre grey. Similarly,
last weekend I went to the opening of the new Children’s Centre at Wellington
a brilliant event.
Following the formal opening, Andrew Govier (the local Member) and I, together with the
nd others went out into the garden to pose for the press as the rain dropped
intermittently on our heads.
The theme of making the best of things is highlighted at this time of year where we are beginning
to look for efficiencies and savings and at the same
time maintain and often improve services.
This is something that as county we do wonderfully well and was highlighted by some examples I
came across this week.
Tonight (Thursday which is when I am writing this piece) I was invited to the County Museum
where the Heritage Learning Manger had identified external funding and used this to develop three
collaborative projects in respect to Taunton Castle, producing a film profiling the exhibits and an
interactive event explaining the role of the Duke of Monm
outh (who I understand was a 17th
Century version of Johnny Depp). The museum was full of children and parents when I arrived,
with the obvious spin off of a great marketing opportunity for all the other things that the Museum
In a similar vein I
was being told by Matt Ballard, a graduate management trainee who works in
the Economic Development section, about some seminars he is organising.
These are aimed at small and medium size enterprises showing them the potential of adopting
new ways of wo
Matt has teamed up with local Microsoft Gold Certified Partners to deliver, throughout the county,
a range of practical technology demonstrations, seminars, and workshops.
The overall aim is for small and medium size enterprises to broaden their
understanding of ICT, keeping them one step ahead of the competition. Matt hopes to engage with
at least 250 businesses during this project.
Lastly I was very impressed at the most recent of the Taunton Area Panels to read a proposal by a
ormer graduate management trainee Richard Stoate, who is now a Community Safety Officer, to
develop a restorative justice scheme in the Wellington area.
This project is an informal means of dealing with adult offenders and enabling them to make
their victims as well as recognise the impact their crime has had. The recidivism rate
for such people is less than 5% and this is much more successful than most of the court disposals.
The Chief Executive has been at the Local Government Association Co
nference in Birmingham on
Thursday and Friday (hence why I am writing this column) where I understand the forecast is for
light showers. He sent a photo of the SCC team at the exhibition promoting a number of
I am due to attend the a
nnual Threshold Prize poetry competition on Saturday, which bearing in
mind the weather I hope is not alfresco.
Still as Terry Wogan always says ‘Musn’t Grumble’.
Enjoy the weekend in rain and shine
An audience with Henry VIII
As part of this ye
ar’s Westival (21
29 July), people will have the opportunity to enjoy live
performances in the historic setting of Taunton Castle, home of the Somerset County Museum.
Two of these events are being staged in support of the Museum of Somerset Fundraisin
On 23 July, there will be an evening of merriment and mirth with Good King Hal, aka full time
professional Henry VIII impersonator Mike Farley.
Discover the life and times of England’s most famous monarch, and find out just what it’s like
spend your life looking like a despotic Tudor monarch.
Mike Farley is one of Britain’s leading Henry VIII impersonators. His mixture of history and
humour has earned rave reviews, and with his imposing figure, booming voice, wicked humour
al skills, he is in high demand with TV and radio nationwide.
He has been a sell
out on previous visits to Taunton Castle, so get your tickets early.
The show takes place in Taunton Castle Courtyard at 7:45pm (gates open 7:00pm). Tickets at
e a feast of medieval nibbles.
Tudor beverages will also be available.
Proceeds will go towards the County Council’s Museum of Somerset fundraising appeal.
Recently launched by Mick Aston of television’s “Time Team”, the campaign aims to secure
000 of the total £6.5M required to restore Taunton Castle and create a modern museum
Full details and tickets for the Westival events are available from
telephoning the Brewhouse Th
eatre on 01823 283244.
Submitted by Robert Booth
It SIMS we’re still Top Class
learning and Information Management Group and the Education Financial Services (part
the Finance CYPD group) have recently been successful in obtaining Capita SIMS (
Information Management System) Support Re
accreditation undertaken by Capita Children Services, monitors and assesses the quality
of support for SIMS to Somerset schools.
A major part of the re
accreditation was to seek the
opinions of the schools
These results were extremely positive, improving on the very good scores received in the original
line questionnaires were completed by over 55% of Somerset schools, with around half
th further helpful comments.
Scores for each category assessed were rated as follows (1= very poor and 6 = excellent)
o Training = 5.45.
o Helpdesk Services = 5.35.
o Remote Support = 5.62
o Overall Quality of Service/Value for money = 5.26.
questionnaires have provided the groups with extremely valuable feedback on the range of
services provided to schools and produced some useful suggestions for further improvement.
The award recognises the continued high quality professional work and dedic
ation of the staff
within the E
Learning and Information Management Group and Education Financial Services.
Thank you to all the staff. An excellent and well deserved outcome.
Submitted by Sharon Passmore
Chris Retires from Resources for Learning
ristopher Jones will be retiring on 24th July 2007. Christopher joined Somerset in 1974 and has
managed the Schools Library Service / Resources for Learning for over 20 years.
Somerset’s school library ‘Resources for Learning’ service provides loans of b
resources and a range of curriculum support services to schools. Last year, the service, which has
been in existence since 1949, loaned over 259,000 items to schools.
‘Resources for Learning’, which is a trading unit within Somerset County C
Services, has helped to set up libraries in all Somerset schools and continues to provide advice,
expertise, practical help and training to maintain and improve school libraries.
Almost all schools within the county have benefited from
the hard work undertaken by Christopher,
and in particular with regards to the School Library Improvement Programme, which set up
working libraries within schools throughout the county.
Other improvements to the service include computerisation, Red Star Bo
the Literacy Hour, all of which Christopher has been instrumental in setting up.
To celebrate Christopher’s retirement, The Bridgwater Mercury was invited last week to take a
staff photograph. This will be included in their paper
within the next few weeks.
Christopher’s post will be taken over on 1st August, by Karen Horsfield. Karen is currently based
at Yeovil Library, where she is employed as a Service Development Librarian, and specialises in
Life Long Learning.
We wish Ch
ris all the best in his retirement.
Submitted by Gail Phillips
“Watts Off?” challenge
“Watt” a success!
A big “Thank you” to everyon
e who made an effort to save energy at County Hall last weekend!
Comparing electricity consumption over our “Watts Off?” weekend (30th June
1st July 07) to the
equivalent weekend last year, there was a reduction of 13.3% in energy use.
Not only did w
e save electricity but we also reduced County Hall’s carbon footprint by saving
658kg of Carbon Dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
This is almost the same weight as a SMART Car or 6,580 low energy light bulbs!!
Taunton Library also joined
in the “Watts Off?” campaign challenge It managed to save 13.7% of
electricity over last weekend, which equates to 71.38kg of co2 emissions or the equivalent of ten
complete copies of the Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007 in hardback.
Thank you Energy Champio
ns for encouraging your colleagues to join in with the challenge,
without your help we would not have exceeded our expectations.
If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the “Watts On?” Campaign, please send them
Submitted by Abigail Stretch
County Hall Rounders Team match report
The third session of the rounders league took place last Thursday at the Taunton Rugby Club.
Despite a low team showing (due to injuries) County Hall’s team ‘The All Rounde
rs’ whipped up a
storm to draw the first match and win the second.
The four survivors of the previous week’s disaster (where we lost every game), gathered up their
breetches and their resolve in the face of another certain defeat, and cunningly poached te
members from the Hydrographic
Armed with this band of ruthless athletes, our team went on to vanquish their foe in spectacular
Comments by the referee on the vast improvement in ability were politely acknowledged, as the
am members were then smuggled back in amongst their own.
We can only hope that this victory will herald even greater achievements.
The rounders team will meet every Thursday evening at 7pm for the next three weeks at the
Taunton Rugby Club. Spectators ar
e always very welcome.
Submitted by Lisa Dawson
Somerset County Council’s Annual Plan 2007 is now available
The Annual Plan brings together our Corporate Plan and statutory Performance Plan.
It sets out the overall direction of the Council, what we
want to achieve and provides information
on our past performance.
The Annual Plan forms part of a suite of documents, which also includes The Annual Plan
Summary (available end
July) and The ‘Making a difference’ case study booklet (available in
You can find out more about these publications and download a copy at
If you would like a printed copy, require an alter
native format or have any specific questions about
the documents, please contact Melanie Roberts at
The Annual Plan is produced in line with the Council’s commitment to data quality.
For more information on
the Council’s Data Quality Strategy, please visit the intranet site at:
Submitted by Samantha Seddon
Get more out of life
take a course!
Whether you are looking to take up a new interest, have fun, get back to learning, secure a
qualification, or just want to stay fit and healthy, we have
a course at a time and a place to suit
We can even devise a staff training programme for your business.
To get your FREE copy of our NEW Autumn course brochure, ring 0845 688 0488 or text
‘brochure’ with your full address and post code to 07781 48
2 858, or click on the link below.
Or, if you work in County Hall, why not call in to Adult Learning & Leisure, A2, and collect your
Enrolment is even easier
now there are three
different ways to enrol on a course.
1. Ring our NEW Somerset Direct phone number 0845 688 0488.
2. Visit your local Adult Learning & Leisure centre, where you can drop off your completed
enrolment form and pay in person.
3. Post your completed form and
payment to Somerset Direct, A16, County Hall, Taunton, TA1
We look forward to welcoming you this autumn!
Submitted by Rossanne Lee
Healthy Schools Competition
The winners of Somerset County Council’s Best School Dinner Competition were
announced at an
awards ceremony in County Hall on Wednesday 4 July.
The Castle School (Secondary) in Taunton and Baltonsborough Primary School in Mendip both
won gold in the county
wide competition. Minehead middle school was runner up and received a
ery Highly Commended’ award.
Councillor Alan Gloak, the Chairman of Somerset County Council, awarded certificates to all the
District champions before Michael Eavis presented the winning schools with their Best School
Dinner of the Year awards.
rom all over the County were invited to enter the competition. The judges visited the best
schools from each district to taste test the school meals to help them decide the County
The competition was run by Somerset County Council to encourage
healthy eating in schools and
promote the high standard of school meals.
Councillor Alan Gloak, Chairman of Somerset County Council, said: “The standard of entries has
been exceptional. It’s great to see the schools working with Somerset County Council to
healthy eating. Some schools encouraged pupils to plant, grow and eat their own vegetables on
the school site.”
Mary Hughes, Best School Dinner Judge, said: “I hope that the journey of finding the best school
meal in Somerset has begun a process
of lifelong learning about the importance of healthy eating
and a healthy lifestyle.
Competitions such as these help to raise standards in our Schools and create an atmosphere of
achievement and enjoyment where all students are able to make a positive co
Michael Eavis, who presented the winners with their awards, said: “This is a fantastic initiative that
Somerset County Council has worked really hard to make a success.”
I am an organic farmer myself and was really pleased to see
schools buying fresh and
local produce. The promotion of healthy eating within schools is a very important message. I am
glad to support Somerset County Council to teach children these fundamental lifelong lessons.”
Submitted by Alex Bacon
Photo of the
Church at the top of Burrow Mump, located in Burrowbridge. The ruins are of the medieval Chapel
of St Michael, whose foundations date from the 12th Century.
This week’s photo was
submitted by Victor Ambrosini.
To submit your photo
o to the News & Events form