The front page photo in The Cheddar Valley Gazette

The Weston Mercury leads on the outbreak of the flu-like disease coronavirus that began in Wuhan in eastern China (a city of 11 million people) with a headline reading: ‘Bracing for the impact of virus.’ Thank goodness the new editor Vicky Angear has an eye for the drama revealing the number of people who have been recorded in north Somerset having coronavirus is er…3. Angear says that Weston Hospital has installed ‘isolation pods’ to prepare for the crisis. Methinks it will only get worse.

In contrast the Cheddar Valley Gazette concentrates on an issue closer to home. The Reach owned publication (formerly Trinity Mirror) leads on the postponement of the Axbridge Pageant to 2021 due to the crackdown on public events caused by the coronavirous crisis.

They quote the pageant’s artistic director John Bailey as saying: “We cannot risk it, the coronavirus has blown it away and we have had to bow to the inevitable.”

The massive production for the town is not the only casualty of the crisis with the Glastonbury Festival kicked into touch along with a host of local events, while the newspaper’s front page features young climate change campaigners with a photo highlighting their demonstration in Wells.

Also in the Gazette the ever readable Maxine Irvine reports on the controversial plans for a gas-fired power station at Townsend Farm in Axbridge. Residents are unhappy with the plans following Sedgemoor’s green light for more houses to be built on green fields near the proposed power station.

A letter in the Gazette from the Chamber of Commerce in Axbridge has lit a fuse on social media with the town split on whether CCTV in the Square is a good idea. The argument being privacy over public exposure on video. It follows the break-in at the tea rooms and anti-social motorists parking in the road and blocking the path of the bus.

Another major concern for the town is the unsafe road linking it to Cross which campaigner Tess Gill and her supporters have been battling the authorities over. The Mercury reports that Somerset County Council’s highways division will install a ‘safe place’ on the A38 nearby while the path across fields from Spring farm to Cross will be improved and street lights will be installed on the section. Locals will know the main section is between Townsend and Cross across fields is the crucial part to be improved – so watch this space. Work will begin in April.

Sport has been wiped out by the coronavirus situation although the footballers of Winscombe A played Sporting Weston in a League Divison One fixture losing 0-4 to the visitors. In the Gazette the informed and experienced Merv Colenutt has written a roundup of local football which is well worth a read.

Harry Mottram

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