Bridgwater’s Sydenham and Eastover together form the County Council division of Bridgwater North and Central. Dave Loveridge has been Town, District and County Councillor here at various times since the 1980’s. Dave was the only Labour councillor to keep his seat in the 2009 massacre and is standing again for County on May 2nd but warns ‘Don’t take your voters for granted!’.
Dave is ‘getting on a bit’ it’s fair to say, and he’s done pretty much everything there is to do in local politics. On County Council he’s the Chairman of the Standards committee and from May this year he will become the next Mayor of Bridgwater. Despite recovering from a serious illness, Dave is determined to hold the seat for Labour and has been out daily with leaflets and meeting people.
“In 2009 we were at the tail end of a Labour Government and at the same time the ‘expenses scandal’ hit the headlines which sent all politicians popularities plummeting,” said Dave “The most common refrain you got on the doorstep was ‘I don’t know why you’re bothering mate, no-one’s voting round here’. And the turn out dropped.”
‘Of 4 Bridgwater seats only Dave survived’
In fact the turn out dropped almost off the scales. In Bridgwater, where Labour had not long ago held all 4 County seats, only Dave survived. This was as much to do with his track record and the fact that he is well known locally. But there was another factor which was special in North and Central ward – in 2009 the Far Right BNP stood a candidate for the first time ever alongside another right wing group UKIP. The danger of these parties getting a toehold in the town inspired non-party supporters out to back Dave as well. Students from the College turned out to deliver ‘Hope not Hate’ leaflets warning of the truth about the BNP along with a sizeable anti-Nazi group in the town enraged at the prospect of a BNP campaign .
“Important to get out and vote-we’re NOT all the same!”
“The campaign proved to people that there really was a point to getting out to vote” says Dave “Those that were saying it didn’t make a difference to who got in can see now how close they were to a surprise Tory win due to apathy or even worse.”
This time round neither BNP nor UKIP have dared to stand a candidate against Dave – leaving just Tories and Lib Dems, but he remains determined to campaign as hard as ever. “I don’t believe in being complacent. If you’re going to represent people you’ve got to get out and talk to them and keep in touch. Whatever you do, don’t take people for granted“