It was nearly stand up for Stand Up for Labour when a comedy night hosted by West Somerset Labour Party at the Hobby Horse hotel in Minehead, proved so popular that they nearly ran out of chairs. Over 120 eager socialists attended the event headlined by seasoned comedian Arthur Smith along with up and coming comedians Richard James and Eliza Fraser.
The night was part of a national tour called “Stand Up for Labour”, which is travelling around the country helping to raise the profile and funds of Labour branches. Producer, Crispin Flintoff, contacted West Labour Party secretary, Kathrine See, last year to ask if the branch would be interested in hosting the event. “I was really keen” Kathrine says “And determined to make the night work. My main reason was never about raising money but more about proving a point. I truly believe that Labour can be strong and credible in West Somerset.”Continue reading “Standing Up for Labour in Minehead”
In today’s political climate of wrong versus right and left versus right, if we are to achieve a welcoming and tolerant Somerset, it quite simply cannot and will not be achieved under the counsel of Ian Liddel-Grainger. Somerset Labour Party member Sam James takes a look at the Bridgwater and West Somerset MPs voting record.
Whether you agree or disagree with what you reveal, it is essential for voters to divulge themselves
in the voting record of their local representatives. Our local area has been inhibited by the anti-
progressive Conservative regime for decades. The vote for Liddel-Grainger to some is the only
candidate worth voting for, even to some it’s the safest option: however, is it the moral option?
Liddel-Grainger boasts the backing of countless intolerant policies that can only match the likes of
Jacob Rees-Mogg and his 19th-century politics and would make even the most right-wing voters
flinch. Here are some mentionable and tremendously questionable examples of this. Continue reading “The Deplorable Record of Ian Liddell-Grainger”
On Wednesday 2 May 2018, Cllr David Fothergill, Tory Leader of Somerset County Council announced that he intended to start a conversation with the district councils and other partners to explore whether a unitary model of local government could be a better way to deliver public services in Somerset. Immediately the ‘Unitary debate’ was back on the table and immediately the Tories were at each others throats.
A joint statement from all 5 ‘District’ Councils took issue with their Top Tier party colleagues saying ” The assertion that district councils in Somerset are in financial difficulty is inaccurate……and the claim that a unitary authority is needed to protect district council services is misplaced and just plain wrong. “ The statement continued “The district councils believe the projected savings from establishing a unitary council suggested by Somerset County Council are unrealistic and not based on a sound analysis of our position. Given its financially precarious position, the districts intend to work with Somerset County Council and other partners to examine all the options for reform in Somerset local government. This conversation could include unitary councils but all other options should be objectively assessed as well.”Continue reading “Unitary Debate Back on the Table”
“Bandiera rossa la trionferà evviva il socialismo e la libertà!” So sang the Red Notes Choir as they led 200 people around Wells on the first Saturday in May 2018. The Red Flags will be triumphant, long live socialism and freedom. And so it seemed as nearly every Labour Party and Trade Union in the county turned up with their red banners flying as they marched around the Cathedral City of Wells to the Bishops Barn where family fun stalls, tea and cakes, the folk band ‘Seize the Day and even a Blacksmith awaited them.
The rally was addressed by Ruth George, Labour MP for Derbyshire High Peak, Paul Turner, Wells CLP Rural Affairs Officer, Jacky Carter, Wells CLP campaigns organiser and Nigel Costley, South West TUC Regional Secretary.
But the keynote address was by veteran Bridgwater socialist Dave Chapple, organiser of many May Day Rallies back in the 1980’s. Dave is not a member of the Labour Party, as he made clear, but for historical record we relive his speech in full below.
“International Worker’s Day greetings from a life-long Somerset trades unionist, a school-cleaner for 11 years, a postman for 38, a shop steward for 35 of those years, to the Wells Constituency Labour Party for organising this, the first May Day March in Somerset for 24 years.
Ian Liddell-Grainger who dubs himself as “Your listening MP” has shown himself to be anything but. So says West Somerset Labour Party Secretary Kathrine See who cites the case of Gemma and Adam Lorey who have a disabled son, Max, who relies on an eye gaze system in order to communicate. This is a similar piece of equipment to that used by the late Stephen Hawking. Max depends totally on the support of the Physical Impairment Medical Support Team (PIMST) in order to attend mainstream education. He is a cognitively able student and very happy and settled in his school.
A packed meeting organised by Bridgwater and West Somerset Labour Party heard Tower Hamlets GP Dr Youssef El Gingihy give a history of the planned and actual destruction of the British National Health Service through privatisation and outsourcing. The meeting abounded with examples of services stretched, staff under pressure and people wanting to fightback.
Dr Youssef was introduced by Bridgwater Branch Chair Glen Burrows as someone who would tell us what was really going on in the NHS and he didn’t disappoint.
History of NHS Privatisation
The history of privatisation in the NHS started with the Thatcher government back in the 1980s when they introduced ‘outsourcing’. This meant the catering, cleaning, laundry functions and the introduction of an ‘internal market’ into the NHS. By the 1990s, when the Tories had been in power for some 11 years already and looked set to stay there, this included dividing the NHS up into Trusts.
This strategy was in fact all part of the Ridley Plan – a Tory agenda to dismantle the welfare state set up by Labour in the 1940s and included privatisation of the big public utilities such as transport, water,gas and electricity. However, it was noted that the consumers were mainly in favour of nationalisation as the best way of delivering public services and so the tactic was to ‘do it by stealth’. Continue reading “Bridgwater Meeting Resolves to Fight to Save Our NHS”
Work has now started on a multi-million pound road scheme which will help ease congestion in Bridgwater. The first turf was formally cut for the Colley Lane Southern Access Road (CLSAR) today (Thursday, 19 April), kicking-off the £18.4m scheme that will include two new bridges, 840 metres of carriageway and new cycle and footways. As well as connecting Parrett Way to Marsh Lane to tackle congestion along Taunton Road and Broadway, the scheme will also provide access to the Colley Lane Industrial Estate from the south.
Construction firm Whitemountain is building the road which will also open up brownfield development sites between the River Parrett and the Taunton and Bridgwater Canal – supporting the delivery of planned housing and employment land.
County Councillor says “Long Overdue”
Cllr Leigh Redman , one of the County Councillors for the area that the bypass will benefit commented “I was so pleased to have been on site today to see the first turf cut. For many years I have been pressing for this important link road to be started. Somerset County Council have been facing financial pressures that have caused delays to the start. I have continued to keep pressure on officials at County Hall to ensure it stayed on the table. The road will help to relieve pressure on Taunton Road, already suffering because of HPC traffic. To be able to attend the first turf being cut on site is great news, I look forward to working with Highways and residents to overcome any issues during the 18 month build, so that we can bring the long overdue bypass into reality.”The £18.4m scheme is being funded by contributions from EDF Energy and housing developers, the DfT Productivity Investment Fund and Somerset County Council’s capital programme.
David Eccles, EDF Energy’s Head of Stakeholder Engagement for Hinkley Point C, said: “We are very pleased to see work started on this important addition to Bridgwater’s road network. EDF Energy’s £20 million package of road improvements complements this additional investment. The Colley Lane scheme helps to ensure that local people and businesses share in the opportunities created, with Hinkley Point C being a huge driver of economic growth.”
Whitemoutain has been holding public information events to keep people up to date on the plans. Brian Harper, senior site engineers, said: “We are keen to work with the community and keep them informed as our works progress. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to visit our team, at the public information sessions in the Canalside Conference Centre earlier this week. We are really looking forward to delivering this project to improve infrastructure that will support the growth of Bridgwater town”.
Mayor says “Great Benefit”
Mayor of Bridgwater, Cllr Graham Granter, said “This really will be a great benefit to our town, to see contractors of site and the works starting is great, I am looking forward to seeing the new bridges going in, they will provide access for pedestrian and cyclists, as well as give some residents decent vehicular access to their home for the first time”
Stay up to date with the latest traffic and roadworks news by visiting www.travelsomerset.co.uk or following @TravelSomerset on Twitter.
Labour is announcing a new policy to fund free bus travel for under 25 year olds across the country. The move could benefit up to 13 million young people, help them save up to £1,000 a year and will be paid for using money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty. The next Labour government will provide funds for free travel for under 25s to local authorities who introduce bus franchising or move to public ownership of their local bus services. This will support and incentivise local authorities to create municipally owned bus companies, run for passengers not profit, which research has found could achieve annual savings of £276 million per year.
I sadly have to inform you that Andy Lewis died at the end of last week from a fall in his home. We are all devastated at the loss of our friend, who was such an active and illustrious member of the Party. Andy’s journalism skills were invaluable in composing Labour press releases and election leaflets for Parliamentary, District and Town elections. He was an active campaigner and held the roles of West Somerset Branch Secretary and Treasurer at Constituency and Branch level for many years.He was also a Minehead Town Councillor for the Alcombe ward for the past three years.His bravery, energy, good humour and friendship will be very much missed by many across the constituency. We send our sympathy to his family and inform those wishing to attend that his funeral will be held on Monday 23rd April at noon at Taunton Deane Crematorium
Andy was born in Nottingham , attended Nottingham University, and spent most of his working life as a journalist at the BBC, including the role of Senior Editor of the news team at BBC Radio 4.
Andy and his wife, Barbra, moved to West Somerset with their three children in the late 1990s. Following the death of his wife and his subsequent early retirement, Andy became actively involved in local life. He volunteered for the West Somerset Advice Bureau for many years along with a shorter stint at the Sedgemoor Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
As well as his Labour activities, which included the writing of many letters and features to the West Somerset Free Press, Andy was an active members of Amnesty International, the West Somerset LETS organisation, a regular quizzer with the Roadwater team, the Valiant Nomads, who under his captainship won many contests.
He also volunteered for West Somerset Engage, a furniture recycling project and Taunton Oxfam, where Andy was able to combine his love of books with volunteer work.
Andy was a long term supporter of Arsenal, was an avid reader, writer and enjoyed jazz and blues music in particular.
Andy was a strong supporter of the Somerset Labour Web and our most regular contributor over the years writing many features that were taken up regionally and nationally by the press.
He leaves a lasting legacy and will be very sadly missed by many.
There are 2 By-Elections in Shepton Mallet coming up. The East and West wards of the Town Council each have 2 vacancies and the election will be held on Thursday 3rd May. The vacancies have been caused by the death of a sitting councillor, the forfeiture of a councillor for non-attendance and the resignation of two others.
In the East ward it’s a battle between 2 Tories, 2 Independents and a Lib Dem, but in the West ward The Labour Party is putting up two candidates for the two seats – Paul Turnerand Gill Pettitt.
Shepton Mallet already has TWO Labour Town councillors, Chris Inchley and Deborah Towner, but Shepton Branch Labour Party have been increasingly active in local issues notably the recent campaign over the bed closures in Shepton Hospital and now regarding the library. Both Gill and Paul know the town well and Paul has been at the core of the hospital protest and the legal challenges mounted against SOMPAR.
Paul is also the Wells Rural Affairs Officer and recently organised the Rural Affairs Panel which was addressed by David Drew MP – Shadow Farming Minister. In preparation for this Paul has also visited over 50 local farms and his knowledge of this aspect of the community and Labour Policies in relation to Rural Affairs is a huge asset to the town, the community and to the Party.
Labour across the county has rallied to the cause and there were 11 canvassers out yesterday – from all 4 branches of the Wells CLP and will be canvassing there again at 10.30 next Saturday .