CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Somerset Life today CLICK HERE

Rupert Cox: Problem solving in Somerset

PUBLISHED: 11:44 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:44 13 March 2018

Rupert Cox, Chief Exec Royal Bath and West of England Society (c) Jeremy Long / JCL PHOTOGRAPHY

Rupert Cox, Chief Exec Royal Bath and West of England Society (c) Jeremy Long / JCL PHOTOGRAPHY


Rupert Cox considers some radical problem solving

Nearly two decades have passed since my life was focused on lobbying and influencing politicians on the need to create a competitive environment for Somerset business by improving the county’s infrastructure. Namely through broadband and mobile connectivity, the A303, the A358, rail links, access to markets, the promotion of Somerset as a place to do business, business rates and so on. The sad reality is that very little has changed when it comes to making Somerset an ideal county from where to do business.

While most of the county has improved broadband, technology has moved so fast that this is now not good enough for many aspiring high-tech small businesses, who cannot afford a lease-line and mobile coverage is still spasmodic.

The ridiculous political charade that is the dualling of the A303 and A358 only seems to be a big issue when politicians need to be elected to Westminster, with those wishing to block such progress using the piles of rocks that is Stonehenge as the ultimate deal-breaker.

While our railway stations have improved, it still costs more to take the train from Castle Cary to Paddington and back ‘on-peak’ than to fly to Switzerland and no one is actively promoting Somerset as a great place to do business.

While Government has been kind to the small retailers with regard business rate exemption, the Valuation Office is once again circling business premises like a hungry shark looking to help fill the coffers of the councils.

Beware the ‘golden goose’ that is Hinkley Point C. It is vitally important that we have balance in our economy and not over rely on short-termism. It is a 10-year project that could really push our county to the forefront of the nuclear power industry, but managed poorly, could be the catalyst for boom and bust during which the labour supply is even tighter than it is now, thwarting the growth of businesses across the county who cannot service the mega-project.

Quite rightly, more houses are being built to home the younger generation who choose to stay in Somerset to stop the county becoming a retirement dormitory, but with limited thought on where they will work or how they will move about.

I love our county town, but on a Sunday morning shopping visit in November I was reminded of some of the embarrassing scenarios that Taunton has to offer. The site of the old livestock market is still derelict, when just eight miles down the motorway Junction 23 is thriving after 10 years of investment. The only developments around that site are built on car parks not the plentiful brownfield space.

Sainsbury’s car park was gridlocked at 2pm. It took an hour to get out of the car park as the traffic flow to the motorway and into the town had come to a standstill, so what on earth will happen when the Garden City expansion is complete at Norton Fitzwarren and Heathfield?

Time for radical thinking not reactionary problem-solving from a unitary council that serves the whole county.

Our county’s strategic leadership is stifled by the continued protectionism of two-tier local government where district authorities have little interest in anything else in the county, other than that which is right under their noses.

Do you agree with Rupert’s views? Write to us and let us know at

Rupert Cox is the CEO of the Royal Bath and West Society. For more from Rupert, follow him on Twitter! @rupert_rbw


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Somerset Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Somerset Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Somerset Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 11:12

Simone Stanbrook-Byrne explores two villages on the Mendip Hills and the tranquil paths that link them

Read more
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Whatever the season, we love exploring Portishead!

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Given to the people of Bath as a gift from a local benefactor 80 years ago, the tranquil Alice Park is thriving, as Chrissy Harris discovers

Read more
Friday, September 28, 2018

When a town can boast having three community orchards offering free fruit for all, you know you’ve arrived somewhere special. Laurence McJannet marches to Wellington for some culinary surprises

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

As the colder months draw in, and golden and red hues fill the trees, there’s nothing quite like gathering the family for a stroll through the countryside. Embrace the fresh air, wrap up warm and soak in the beauty of Somerset on these 10 autumn walks

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Steve Roberts traces the trials and tribulations behind the construction of a famous Bristol landmark

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

This month Andrea Cowan visits Withypool

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Crunchy leaves under foot, bracing walks in beautiful countryside and along the coast, cream teas in cosy tea rooms and charming pubs with roaring fireplaces – what’s not to love about autumn in the Somerset?

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A wander through Somerton’s streets reveals a perfectly preserved rural Somerset town, discovers Laurence McJannet

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Take a family walk in Watchet, exploring both town and countryside, with Simone Stanbrook-Byrne

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

From beautiful gardens to iconic attractions, fascinating museums to family-friendly theme parks, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to a family day out in Somerset

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There’s nothing more appealing than a row of picture-perfect properties in some of Somerset’s most beautiful locations. Which street is your favourite in the county?

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

Steve Roberts steps back in time to see how the Monmouth Rebellion impacted on our county

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Stephen Roberts explores a Somerset manor house packed with centuries of history

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

subscription ad

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search