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Big changes to modernise marriage registration

Big changes to modernise marriage registration

New legislation coming into force this week is set to modernise marriage registration for the first time since 1837.

The Marriage Schedule System will move away from the current paper register (the traditional book which is signed by the couple and their witnesses) to a more secure system for keeping marriage records.

The electronic register will also allow for the names of multiple parents of the couple to be included in the marriage entry and on marriage certificates – previously only fathers’ names were included. This move brings the system in line with the one already used for registering Civil Partnerships.

Couples will notice two main differences when it comes to their ceremonies. Firstly, they will not sign in an old-fashioned register book, but instead they and their witnesses will sign a single sheet of paper called a ‘Schedule’ that is unique to the couple.

Secondly, it will no longer be possible to provide a marriage certificate on the day of the ceremony. Couples will be legally married from the moment they say their vows, but certificates will now be posted to them within five working days.

Couples who have already given notice do not need to take any special steps. Somerset County Council’s Registration Service will take care of all the changes to paperwork and will give couples the option of adding extra parents to the schedule on their big day.

The new changes will present a technical hitch for some couples. Some honeymoon offers require proof of marriage to validate a special offer, or the couple may be travelling to a country where couples must be legally wed to share a room. As the certificate will not be available for up to five working days, couples are advised to check in advance what other proof businesses or travel destinations will accept.

Genevieve Branch, Somerset County Council Service Manager for Registration Services, said: “Registrars across the county are being prepped for the new changes, and our Somerset team are excited to start implementing the new, more inclusive system. With more streamlined paperwork behind the scenes and a better representation of modern families on couples’ landmark documents, this really is a welcome move for the wedding industry.”


Please don’t feed the Ponies

Quantock Farmers ask ‘Please do not feed the ponies’

Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic there has been an increase in people feeding the ponies on the open hilltops of the Quantocks.  These ponies thrive on the grasses, heathers and plants on the hilltops and do not need extra food.

Some horses have special dietary considerations and can be intolerant to foods such as carrots and apples and cannot have too much sugar.  Giving them “sweets and treats” can result in stomach ulcers, which are very painful, and colic which can kill them.  Many fruit and vegetables may seem like “healthy” or “normal” horse treats, but they are not suitable for many horses including the ponies which graze the Quantocks.

As many of these ponies roam wild over the open hills people are unable to know how many “treats” they have been fed and people are making the mistake of saying “just one won’t hurt”.  A further issue of feeding the ponies is that they associate people and cars with food. They become more tolerant and will actively approach people and cars which increases the risk of people being bitten or kicked or the ponies being injured by vehicle collisions.

Ranger Andy Stevenson said, “Although they are beautiful to look at, the ponies are pretty wild and certainly not pets so keeping a little distance from them and appreciating them from a far is the best for everybody’s wellbeing”.

Ponies on the Quantock Hills:

  • Quantock Common is a large block, over 1,800Ha, of unenclosed heath and woodland on the hilltops of the Quantock Hills. It is a special habitat and is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Quantock Common is managed by the active Commoners (local farmers who have rights of Common), landowners and the AONB Service. Part of the required management is grazing by sheep, ponies and cattle. This mix of grazing promotes the different heathland species such as heathers and bilberry.
  • The majority of ponies that graze the unenclosed hilltops of Quantock Common are owned by farmers / landowners who have rights of common to graze animals on the common.
  • The farmers / landowners are known as ‘Commoners’ as they are exercising their rights of common. They regularly inspect the ponies and any issues reported to the AONB Service are passed onto the relevant farmer / landowner to rectify.
  • If people see a pony they believe is in distress or hurt they can report it to the AONB Service, who will ensure it is communicated to the most appropriate farmer / landowner.
  • Other locations also have grazing stock such as Lydeard Hill and Cothelstone Hill. These are not commons and the ponies that graze these hills are owned by the landowners.