Obituary- Ken Richards, Mick Briscombe, Jean Whitehouse

Wednesday, 14 February 2018Leave a reply
Ken Richards

Three former Labour councillors who served together on the 1999 Sedgemoor District Council have died within weeks of each other. Their funerals will be held during the same week.

Ken Richards was elected 10 times from 1973 until 2011 for the Bridgwater ward of Central and then later Victoria. He was Mayor of Bridgwater 5 times in 1981, 87,91,2001 and 2009. Ken was a Transport & General Workers Union organiser and worked in the Brickyards and British Cellophane. Ken passed away at Musgrove Hospital after a short illness on January 29th. He was recently a feature of ‘Labour Lives’ which can be read here.

Ken’s funeral will be at St Mary’s Church Bridgwater at 11.00 on Friday 16 February

Mick Briscombe

Mick Briscombe was elected 7 times as Labour councillor for the Sydenham Ward from 1973 until 1999, losing only once in 1987 when he stood against the party along with 5 colleagues under the banner of ‘Traditional Labour’. After a 4 year absence he was back in the party and regained his Sydenham seat for Labour. Mick, born Albert Sydney, was in the AEU Union and  was Mayor of Bridgwater twice in 1978 and 1994. Mick passed away on 11th February 2018.

Mick’s funeral will be on Thursday 22nd Feb 18 at 2pm in the Salvations Army Hall, Bridgwater.

Jean Whitehouse

Jean Whitehouse was elected twice as Labour councillor for Highbridge in 1999 and 2003. Also a popular children’s entertainer who went under the name Auntie Teapot, Jean regularly held fundraising events at her family’s Edithmead farmhouse. Jean passed away peacefully on 29th january 2018 aged 84 years .

Jean’s Service of Committal will be at Highbridge Cemetery on Friday 16th February at 11.30am to which all are welcome .

Labour Forces Tory Climb Down as County Removes Misleading Logo

Wednesday, 14 February 2018Leave a reply
Labour’s Kathrine See

Somerset County Council has been forced to change the design of it’s so called “Somerset Early Childhood Support and Services Offer”  due to a direct challenge from Labour’s Kathrine See who appeared at the scrutiny committee meeting on 26th January and accused the Council of misleading the public. She had with her a copy of the Councils latest service provision offer which was emblazoned with a large Somerset County Council logo.

Kathrine said “The document contained a list of all the available groups and services for parents and preschool children in Somerset. However, Labour had high lighted the list for West Somerset showing that 70 % of the entries are actually provided by voluntary groups, private franchises and other individuals not associated with the County Council. One group had even been set up by the mother of a child with additional needs in direct response to the cut in services at her local Children’s Centre. When the group that Siobhan Lennon-Patience had been attending with her son, was cut by the Council she was left with no choice but to set up her own support group. She is keen to stress that this was not part of David Cameron’s ideological big society but a hard-pressed mum being forced to take action, that she really did not want to, in order to plug the void left by the Council. She felt the need to step in and help parents who had been left with no support what so ever even though she already has more than enough on her plate.” Continue reading “Labour Forces Tory Climb Down as County Removes Misleading Logo”

A “Sad Day For Democracy” as Somerset Tories Close Ranks to Close Children’s Centres

Monday, 12 February 20181 Reply
Demonstrators outside County Hall

At todays meeting of the Tory controlled Somerset County Council Executive, Councillors voted unanimously to close two thirds of Somerset’s Childrens Centres and at the same time agreed the transfer of health visitors and school nurses from the NHS to a new Family Support Service, run by the county council.

Angry protesters including health workers, Trades Unionists, Labour Party members, children and a person in an inflatable baby costume,braved the cold to greet councillors on their arrival at Tauton’s County Hall.

The Unite union, which organised the demonstration, said the changes risked “wrecking a great service” with 24 Sure Start centres  replaced by eight “family centres” which will co-ordinate work in the surrounding areas and the remaining 16 buildings expected to be used by nurseries.Councillors also agreed to bring the employment of the county’s health visitors and school nurses in-house from April 2019.

Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for children, Cllr Frances Nicholson (Conservative, Exmoor & Dulverton) , said   “I understand that some people are anxious, but this is about doing things better, and the next steps will be taken carefully and at the right pace.” Continue reading “A “Sad Day For Democracy” as Somerset Tories Close Ranks to Close Children’s Centres”

Somerset’s services for families and children threatened by planned shake-up, warns Unite.

Friday, 2 February 2018Leave a reply

Services to families and children in Somerset will be hit if the Tory-controlled county council takes these activities back in-house and then imposes cuts to a vibrant service, Unite, the UK’s largest union, has warned.

Health visitors and school nurses fear that not only will services they provide to some of Somerset’s most vulnerable families be adversely affected by the planned cuts, but there will also be a steady salami-slicing of their pay, and terms and conditions.

The council wants to takeover these services currently provided by the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust from 1 April 2019.

Demonstrate 12 Feb

Unite is organising a demo of community nurses and families to protest at the proposals when the council’s cabinet meets to discuss the plan at Somerset County Hall, Taunton at 09:00 for 09:30 start on Monday 12 February.

Unite, which represents the majority of the 200 health visitors and school nurses, wants the cabinet to throw out the proposals which, the union says, is more to do with cost cutting than enhancing service provision. Continue reading “Somerset’s services for families and children threatened by planned shake-up, warns Unite.”

Anger as County Council set to ignore results of the Children’s Centre Consultation.

Monday, 29 January 20182 Replies
SCC ‘Providing for Life’…but ‘are they?’

The results of the ten week Somerset Family Support Service and Children’s Centre Consultation has now been made public. The 47 page report produced by the independent body “Dialogue” was seen by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee in County Hall last Friday.

West Somerset Branch Secretary Kathrine See has studied the report and says “The report not only contains scepticism of the questionnaire and consultation process itself, but a huge amount of concern, mistrust and public criticism of the proposals regarding the future of Children’s Centres and services.The report clearly states that “In general people did not support the de-designation of the Children’s Centres” and “Participants overwhelmingly believed that services should continue to be delivered through Children’s Centres”. Continue reading “Anger as County Council set to ignore results of the Children’s Centre Consultation.”


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The venue for my meeting with Bridgwater Labour member, Sadie Trent (as is now customary), is in a coffee shop. It is a day on which the subject of unrecyclable coffee cups is much in the news and, sadly, in our case, we have added to the waste mountain as Costa Coffee were not able to serve drinks in their best china due to the breakdown of their washing machine.

Born in 1992, now 25 years old, Sadie measures the time of her birth according to the political state of the country at the time. In other words, she was a baby of the ‘Major’ years or, as her parents call it, the ‘major disaster’ years.

Schooled locally at East Bridgwater and Robert Blake, she was always interested in the arts and is today, after a year of journalism at Exeter, studying PPE plus International Studies via the Open University Continue reading “LABOUR LIVES:- No 6 SADIE TRENT”

Young People Shocked by MP’s Lack of Understanding

Saturday, 6 January 2018
ILG meets some young people

Three local young people met with Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger before Christmas to seek his views on discrimination against young people in work, on benefits and generally, and were shocked by his apparent lack of understanding of the problems faced by young people trying to find work and somewhere to live. This is part of an ongoing campaign for rights for young workers, organised by Bridgwater Labour Party and local trades unions

One of the issues raised with Mr Liddell-Grainger was lack of affordable housing. The average private rent in Bridgwater is between £475 pcm and £695pcm for a 2 bedroom. Mr Liddell-Grainger responded that house prices in Bridgwater are generally lower, so a place to live is within most people’s reach. Does he really believe that young people on a living wage or with temporary or zero-hour work contracts can maintain a roof over their heads and afford the basics? Continue reading “Young People Shocked by MP’s Lack of Understanding”

Christmas Message from Bridgwater Branch Secretary

Friday, 22 December 2017
Bridgwater Branch secretary Gary Tucker

I’d like to take the opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year from the Bridgwater & District Branch of the Labour Party.

Before you switch off and think, ‘Oh yes…another politician buttering us up,’ I would like to inform the people of Bridgwater and District that I am not a politician.  I am- like many other newly-active Labour members- an ordinary member of the public who is deeply concerned about events happening in our country right now.   Politicians are ranked as the least trusted by the public.  I am a school teacher and I know that you hold us in high regard as trusted members of society so please hear me out!  I could tell you about the disgraceful attacks on the weakest and vulnerable people that this government is conducting but I’m sure you’ve probably heard that plenty of times. Continue reading “Christmas Message from Bridgwater Branch Secretary”

Christmas Truce at Sedgemoor as new Chief Exec Backed Unanimously

Thursday, 21 December 2017
New SDC Chief Exec Allison Griffin

Sedgemoor has a new Chief Executive and it’s Bridgwater born and bred Allison Griffin who was appointed today with unanimous backing of the entire council. Proposed by Tory Leader Cllr Duncan McGinty (Con, East Polden) and Seconded by acting Labour Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Lab, Bridgwater Westover) Allison will be in post from 1st January 2018 bringing to an end the interim period following the sudden resignation of former Cex Kerry Rickards.

Allison is a former Blake School and Bridgwater College  student and lives in the town. Continue reading “Christmas Truce at Sedgemoor as new Chief Exec Backed Unanimously”

Town Puts Pressure on County Portfolio Holder as Anger Mounts over EDF HGV increases

Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Bridgwater Tory, Cllr David Hall, the man in the spotlight

On a day when the NDR was at a standstill and it took the BBC crew 40 minutes to get down the Taunton road to interview Town Council and EDF reps about the proposed 50% increase to HGV movements through Bridgwater, the pressure is mounting on East Bridgwater Tory County Councillor David Hall who is the Somerset Portfolio Holder for Resources and Economic Development and is the one who has to make the decision on whether or not to approve the controversial proposals by next Monday, December 18th.

EDF proposes increasing their HGV movements through Bridgwater from 500 to 750 in what they call a ‘temporary measure’ but which will actually last some 21 months.   Continue reading “Town Puts Pressure on County Portfolio Holder as Anger Mounts over EDF HGV increases”