When Dave was elected to Somerset County Council he became leader of the County Labour Group. Along with Bridgwater South Labour Councillor Pat Parker he was on the Executive as part of the control arrangement agreed with the Lib Dems. Pat, who specialised in ‘early years’ , remembers “The Lib Dems needed Labour to vote with them to get their policies through. We agreed to do certain things but not where we didn’t agree. But at the same time we wouldn’t score political points. In fact because there was a Labour Government Nationally it was just the Libs carrying out Labour policies locally – things like ‘Sure Start’ or increased funding for Education.” This was Labour managing to make a real difference both in Government and locally .
Pat recalls “On County, Dave was a good and regular speaker. At every meeting, on every issue he was up on his feet and always spoke well. For the second term it was Lib Dem Alan Gloak who was county Chairman. And so popular was Dave that even came out and delivered election leaflets for him . Dave was Well known in Bawdrip – and he worked hard. Duncan McGinty stood against him for the Tories at one point and allegedly told people if they voted for David he ‘would be a good councillor’. And on County it’s true that he was well respected by all parties. In many ways he was a Member of the ‘common sense party’. “
Pat also remembers what became known as ‘Busbyisms’, “ if something was spelt wrong he’d pull them up on it. He was certainly ‘pedantic’ and he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Once he got an entire meeting cancelled because of an error in the agenda. But at the same time he got a lot of influence for Labour. Building Schools for the Future was a major Labour policy and one which the Tories eventually got rid of.”
Dave was from London and in fact was on his local Council at the age of 21 . Starting in Uxbridge, he actually notched up 50 years as a councillor, in London, in Edenbridge, Kent and later in Bridgwater. He was also a Magistrate .
Dave Busby was born on 14 July 1938 . Bastille day. In a Hospital next to Bow station.
His mother Laura was an activist in YCL and the influential pre war Communist Party . “He went round canvassing and polling from the age of 10!” remembers his sons.
In his early years Dave was a very active socialist. His eldest son Buzz remembers growing up in pushchairs at various Aldermaston marches. “Dad was always out at meetings. He loved meetings. He was on Hillingdon & Hayes council and was greatly influenced by the socialist Arthur Skeffington, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington. He was born in East London and then lived in Ealing, although he was evacuated to Huddersfield during the Blitz . He married Betty in 1968 and they got a council flat in Heathcoat way, West Drayton. One of his first campaigns was getting these massive Prefab concrete slabs removed. He became a super activist . He got on the council, he became a magistrate. He was also a councillor in Edenbridge in Kent. In fact everywhere he went!”
As a youth David did a lot of camping. He was a member of that Young Socialist institution the Woodcraft Folk. But he was equally happy with guitars around the fire and the music of Pete Seeger and the Clancy Brothers as he was with Classical music. Buzz also recalls “He also collected stamps, and coins, and books. He had some 3000 books.”
In London Dave worked at Heathrow for British Airways Cargo and one of his passions was the Middlesex Show, of which he was the Chairman. Kevin remembers “Dave and Betty would volunteer for anything. Then they were dragged into organising the annual county show – the Middlesex Show. This was extremely big. Took 6 weeks of hard work. AND the sons were volunteered too! This was an annual Busby family diary piece for some 10-15 years.”
So what made Dave Busby tick? The most common answer from people who knew him was ‘a glass of red wine’. But Dave was also a big fan of Classical music, Cricket and Rugby. On top of this he was an atheist -and didn’t want a funeral to commemorate him . Although he was also a pragmatist and when second wife Betty died, because she was a believer, he organised a religious service with all the trimmings.
Another passion of Dave’s was France. Buzz remembers “He had a love affair with France. He loved the idea, the style, the joie de vivre, the wine, the cheese. He used to say ‘it takes quite a lot of good living to get this stomach’. 3 times with Betty and once with Asha they tried to move to France, eventually buying a house in the Dordogne”
So what brought him to Somerset? Eldest son Buzz recalls “His good friend Richard Hanson moved to Somerset on doctor’s advice for the health of his wife. Richard was the Chief Planning Officer at Hillingdon Council. They were friends for 47 years, both magistrates and both started on the Bench together”. Pat adds “He was also a member of the Horticultural society and when he came to Bridgwater he was a key organiser of the Sydenham flower show”
David Busby married three times -Valerie, Betty and Asha. When he married Asha in 2008 and in his retirement, he chose to spend time travelling. Together they visited Canada, Australia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, China, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and finally India where they settled
Dave’s illness hit him hard. Pat remembers that he talked to him in India and noticed that he’d lost a lot of his conversation. “He had Alzheimers and he lost it a bit. With cricket he could quote innings for years gone by, but then suddenly he couldn’t give a hoot.”
Dave was living in Bangalore with Asha and when she died of heart problems he decided to return home. Three weeks later he was back in England. That was 11th November 2021 and soon he became ill himself with Covid. He died on Friday 17th December in Somerset.
Dave’s politics were reflected in his socialist upbringing “It was right to care and it was right to do something about it”.
Sorry everybody, but we have had to cancel this event due to rising concerns about covid.
Community and Clarks announce that following a process of mediation with Acas, an agreement has been reached in respect of the industrial dispute at the Clarks Westway Distribution Centre.
We are pleased that a resolution has been reached that works in everybody’s interests, protects Community members’ livelihoods, and recognises their loyalty to Clarks.
Following an indicative ballot of Community members it is confirmed that normal working has now resumed.
Community and Clarks express their thanks to Acas for its support and look forward to close co-operation as we move on from the dispute and commit to positive industrial relations in the future.
Dave Chapple, Secretary of Mendip Trades Union Council said “In a Community Union statement today, introducing its joint media release with C& J Clark International, the end of the two-month long strike has been described as “Fire and Rehire Defeated!” It certainly has! In fact, the Fire and Rehire proposal, which would have reduced most hourly rates from £1l.16p and hour to £9.50p an hour, has been smashed to pieces! Even the small minority of ‘New World Contract’ staff have achieved a 5.4% pay rise! While some concessions were made during the ACAS-brokered negotiations, there are three reasons why the negotiated settlement of the longest all-out strike in Somerset for 35 years was overwhelmingly accepted by the strikers:
1. “Fire and Rehire” was withdrawn.
The demo was joined by some national figures. Paul Nowak the Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, said “We’re here today to show solidarity with the striking Clarks workers who are standing up to the dreadful tactics of their employer using ‘fire and rehire’. So we’re standing up for decent pay, standing up for decent conditions and standing up for a Union voice at Clarks. I’m angry and frustrated that the Government doesn’t stop this fire and rehire right now. “
Community rep and striker Trevor Stephens said “We’ve been left with no option but to do this. If they’re going to do fire and rehire it’s awful for anyone in the country. We need to make a stand. We’ve got to keep growing and stay strong.”
Roy Rickhaus, General Secretary of Community, said “We’re here to send a message to Clarks. Take Fire and Rehire off the table. Do not treat your workers in this way. Get back round the table, talk to your unions and lets have a sensible negotiation. But you MUST end Fire and Rehire!”
The Clarks workers have been out on strike now for 6 weeks and the Trade union movement has increased it’s solidarity during this time. Speakers from Unison, Usdaw, Unite and the various local Trades Union Councils joined the protest
Dave Chapple, secretary of Mendip Trades Council said “I’ve walked the streets of Somerset for 35 years as a delivery postman but I’ve never been prouder to walk the streets of a Somerset town than I have today walking through Street High Street. It’s been an absolute privilege.”
Labour Party’s from across the county also joined the demo. Jon Falkingham, Treasurer of Bridgwater Branch Labour Party, said “Represented today by two of their elected officers, alongside other members, Bridgwater Labour Party visited the Somerset town of Street with their banner. This was to show our solidarity and support for the strikers of the Clarks Distribution Warehouse, who’re facing an attack on their working conditions through the despicable practice of Fire & Rehire. The turnout was impressive.”
There were Trades Union & Labour Party representatives from across the South West, and even some from further afield. Jon added “The march was slow starting, but once moving it carried an insatiable motion, geed along by horns blaring from passing cars on the Westway and applause in support from the shop workers on the High Street. The traffic of Street’s streets was slowed and held up, and the drivers and passengers, for the most part, met us with smiles and support. When passing the Clark’s Head Office building, there was an eerie quietness – deserted for the weekend, perhaps, but nonetheless poignant. Once out of the town the march returned along the Westway and crossed through the underpass to gather in Woods Batch Park. Refreshments were served, and the speaker called us in closer to the stage. A modern nervousness in proximity to others had caused the gathering to fan out across the park, but there is a stoic sense of resoluteness from standing close with those you have common cause and solidarity – it gave the words spoken from stage greater resolve and purpose. There were speakers from the shop stewards leading the strike, from TUC leaders, and from various regional reps in solidarity. The more experienced public speakers truly made themselves known, rousing the crowd to rolling applause. Every word fell on welcoming ears though, and to hear the quieter voices empowered through a loudspeaker for the first time is what Unionism should be about and aspire to improve on.”
People can make their own private donations directly to the Community Clarks