Somerton and Frome Labour Party members joined with members of the UNITE union to lobby their MP, the Liberal Democrat minister for agriculture and food David Heath , now increasingly under pressure as farm workers intensify their campaign in the run-up to MPs voting on the future of the Agricultural Wages Board.
Unite activists are campaigning for the Agricultural Wages Board’s retention, to protect the incomes of 150,000 agricultural workers. Coalition minister, Heath, was lobbied at his constituency surgery which was held in The Library, Justice Lane, Frome..
Unite will be mounting an intensive lobbying campaign in the run-up to the crucial Commons vote on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill on 16 April – and points out that David Heath, the MP for Somerton and Frome, had previously expressed his support for the Agricultural Wages Board’s retention.
‘Abolition will drive down workers wages to poverty levels’
Unite national officer for agriculture Julia Long said: “David Heath is being lobbied as he is responsible for driving through the proposed abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board, having previously supported for it. The crunch vote on the Agricultural Wages Board is on Tuesday– when MPs vote on whether to maintain the board which has been effective in the last 65 years in protecting the incomes of some of the lowest paid workers in the country. Unite will be campaigning strongly in the run-up to the vote to retain the Agricultural Wages Board. Supermarkets and the growers, who supply them, are behind the AWB’s abolition proposal as they want to drive down workers’ wages to poverty levels.”
Labour Candidate for Yeovil South, Terry Ledlie, believes that the Liberal Democrat vote has peaked , is now in decline and he is convinced that change is just around the corner.
Terry says “In the County election in 2001 the results for the South Ward were as follows, Liberal Democrats, 1782, Conservative 1391, Labour 700.In 2005 the Liberal Democrats hit the dizzy heights of 1938 votes to the Conservatives 1366 and Labour came in third with 700 votes. This was the Lib Dems at their best gaining more of the vote than in 2001. However,their majority has been in decline ever since.”
‘Lib Dem vote plummeting’
The first signs of Lib Dem decline came in 2009 when their vote plummeted from 1938 to 1305, a loss of 633 votes and the Conservatives came second with 1184 reducing the Lib Dem majority to just 121. Terry says “Yeovil Labour has
worked hard and are able contenders for this year’s County council elections especially with an ex Liberal district councillor standing as the Conservative candidate. Also with the boundary changes this election is for the taking. Crucially, if this decline continues, loosing another 600 votes could prove disastrous for the incumbent Councillor and if Labour come out in force then a major upset could be on the cards in this year’s county council elections.”
With Labour clawing back seats around Somerset from Shepton to Peasedown and a renewed vigour in the Labour campaign there could well be a few surprises on May 2nd
As the Somerset County Council elections loom, Labour has once again shown itself to be electable in the county and around the South West. Hot on the back of the 2 gains in Shepton Mallet recently, a further 2 Labour councillors have this week been elected onto the Peasedown St John Parish council in North East Somerset.
The Peasedown victory is bad news for the Liberal Democrats who had made gains there at District level in recent years, but in the light of national setbacks had reclassified themselves as ‘Peasedown First’– however, even this ‘front organisation’ wasn’t enough for local people to see through them. In this traditionally Labour mining village which has doubled in size over the last 20 years with some 1200 houses being built it sends a message of hope across the historic county that the Lib Dems are on the back foot and can’t hide from the voters no matter how the reclassify themselves.
‘voted for common sense’
The victorious Labour & Co-operative Party Candidates, Jonathan Rich & Jordan Ness, were elected to the Peasedown St John Parish Council. Cllr Rich told us “The residents have sent a clear message with these significant Labour wins and have voted for common sense & a return to a more balanced Parish Council for Peasedown St John. Since the May 2011 elections 9 of the 17 Peasedown 1st councillors have resigned from the Council which angered many residents in the village. The Council has lost its direction and needs new elected Councillors that understand the needs of our community and who have experience in Local Government. I believe that Peasedown St John deserves a consistent Parish Council which puts the people’s needs first.”
“I wish to thank the electors of Peasedown for placing their trust in us. It’s time for the hard work to begin and bring some experience to the Council. A huge ‘thank you’ to all those in the Labour Party & supporters for their help over the last few weeks to make this possible. With the right candidates, and some hard work we could see Labour take the 2 District seats in 2015”
In austerity Somerset, it’s all systems go – the candidates for May’s County Elections have been announced, and, riding on a wave of media exposure, UKIP are standing in more seats than ever. Last week, UKIP head honcho Nigel Farage swept through the county to rally his troops. Speaking in Taunton , a flat-capped Farage gleefully announced that there will be a UKIP candidate standing in 90% of County seats – that translated to 48 making them the 4th biggest after Labour and Tory on 55 each and the Lib Dems on 52.
So, faced with the biggest UKIP presence in history, and bombarded with triumphant rhetoric from UKIP High Command, Somerset has to ask a very obvious question – who are these people and what would they do in power?
“As we go into the county council election period, it is fair for people to ask what UKIP are for” said Farage, in a press release coinciding with his arrival in the West.
As we rumble into an intense phase of Labour’s most ambitious County Council campaign in a generation, the Somerset Labour web monkey caught up with the Party’s man in Bridgwater South, Leigh Redman, to discuss his priorities for the election battle ahead.Here it’s a genuine two horse race as the Lib Dem candidate has already been disqualified and UKIP and the Greens deciding not to stand, Leigh is in a straight fight against the Conservatives.
Q: Leigh, you’ve been very involved in the now-confirmed EDF development at Hinkley Point. How do you think it is going to impact your ward?
A: Well, firstly, I’m pleased Hinkley C has been confirmed. It means we can now get on with preparing for it. Now that permission has been given, we will soon be hit by increased traffic along the agreed freight routes, I use the word freight because these heavy goods vehicles (HGV) will be fully loaded and mean more than 500 movements each day. If elected, I will closely monitor the situation, and I want to ensure that any steps taken to mitigate negative effects go far enough. The initial changes that have been proposed for Broadway junction are minimal, just minor alterations to the traffic lights. As a councillor, I would call on the County Highways department to continually monitor the impact, and, if problems develop, take immediate action to ensure smooth flowing traffic.
Q: Bridgwater South encompasses a lot of the town centre. How do you feel about the Tesco coming to Northgate?
Long seen as Liberal Democrat territory, the South Somerset district could provide a few upsets this time round as the County Council line-up of candidates has thrown up a 5-way fight. In all 17 seats Tories, Labour Lib Dem and UKIP are standing candidates for the first time and in 12 of them a Green will add to the choice. This potential vote split offers a much more level playing field than ever before.
LibDems -who usually sweep the board in this part of the County, are this time going into the election compromised by their coalition in Government with a right wing Tory party, who they are seen as responsible for putting there in the first place, and will clearly suffer. Graham Forsyth, Labour candidate in Chard North says “The Paddy Ashdown effect is wearing a bit thin for voters in the Yeovil constituency. Lib Dems are now seen as Tories in ‘look for the bird’ clothing, never to be trusted by the people of South Somerset again.”
UKIP Fatality in Coker
Meanwhile the Tories are fighting on two fronts themselves -firstly, as the ruling party on County at the moment who are making all the cutbacks to local services but secondly from the far right UKIP who believe they’re not being right wing enough. In the Coker ward voters have had to take a short break from the election as the UKIP candidate there has suddenly passed away which means that candidates have to be re-nominated and a result won’t be known until May 16th. Labour’s Murray Shepstone says “Nominations reopened from noon today, lets hope UKIP have another candidate to help split the Tory vote!!”.
Yeovil – where the Paddy legacy is wearing thin
In Yeovil itself where the memory of Paddy Ashdown is often invoked people will see him on TV a lot these next few days remembering Margaret Thatcher . Many others will remember it was the SDP/Liberal alliance that in fact helped keep her in power during those dark days of the 1980’s. Terry Ledlie, Labour candidate for Yeovil South says “With the attitude of we can do and say as we please we’re all right because People will vote for Paddy and not the candidate on the paper and when in trouble they resort to bringing out Paddy Ashdown and David Laws, to make an appearance, on your doorstep at some point in time people will realise and turn away from the Liberals and elect Labour councillors to run county hall . This could be as soon as May 2nd be prepared for a major swing to the Labour Party in Yeovil county council elections!”.
The people decide
Graham added “The Lib Dems have their unholy alliance, Labour has their alliance with you … The people.”
In the 5-way battle that is spreading across Somerset in the run up to the County Council elections on May 2nd,eyes are focusing on areas where Labour can potentially make gains and Shepton Mallet looks like being a key marginal.
Chris Inchley is standing for the Labour Party in his home Town, Shepton Mallet. He is up against Conservative, Lib Dem, UKIP and Green opposition and is confident that people can trust him and his track record on the local town council to guarantee a safe pair of hands.
‘Shepton has been neglected’
Chris says “In these times of Austerity it would be easy to promise this or that, but what I can promise is that if elected i will work hard for Shepton and my fellow residents. My policy interests are education and the importance of early years intervention. If all children are exposed to language and literature in their early years those childrens educational achievement will be greater in later life.”
Chris believes that there is no doubt Shepton is badly served by public transport and that this needs urgent revision also that young people have taken the brunt of the governments cuts. He adds ” Shepton has no youth service provision and your county councillor needs to work to improve opportunities for young people. Shepton needs to improve it’s cultural services, sports, arts and community involvement. It is an obvious statement to make but Shepton has been neglected by local government, this is largely in the way that councils run their services.” Continue reading “Labour candidate asks “Is Shepton’s voice being heard?””
Labour’s County Council election campaign in the Bridgwater area kicked off today with a targetted leaflet drop in the new Stockmoor development on the edge of the town. Although this new-build housing project is seperated from Bridgwater merely by the Stockmoor rhyne it forms part of the North Petherton division for the County Council election and in terms of voting history is a completely new demographic to factor into the equasion and could provide Labour with the boost it needs to take this key county seat from the Tories.
Labour’s candidate, 23 year old Bridgwater shop manager Oliver Barratt, is a recently graduated Law student and with his youthful energy was the first of the local candidates off the mark with his leafleting campaign offering the people of Stockmoor a genuine alternative to Tory rule at County hall and showing that Labour was taking the North Petherton campaign seriously.
One third of the potential North Petherton Vote is on Stockmoor
Olly said “Stockmoor is crucial to us because there’s over 1,000 people living here and although they’re on the very edge of Bridgwater they’re a community in themselves,with a school and some shops on the way but very little in terms of public services, facilities and amenities. One third of the potential vote in this division will come from this little area and responses so far show strong support for Labour.” Continue reading “Stockmoor Development is ‘crucial’ to Labour success in North Petherton”
The most interesting Somerset County Council election in years will take place on May 2nd. For the first time the two traditional enemies, Tory and Lib Dem, who have batted control of the council backwards and forwards between them, are now in grim coalition at Westminster and both guilty of a massive and painful programme of cuts across the country. With little to choose between them voters are looking to Labour to provide an alternative.
Labour rises to the challenge
For the first time ever Labour are standing in all 55 county seats, matching the Tories person for person. Wherever a Conservative stands a Labour candidate is there to offer that genuine difference that people no longer belief the compromised and ineffectual Lib Dems can offer. Nick Cleggs sad and dispirited party can only field a slate of 52 candidates across a county which they once controlled. Continue reading “Labour and Tories go head to head as County Elections kick off”
With two five-way fights and an intriguing list of candidates, the county election in the four West Somerset divisions is wide open. Politics in this district is always unpredictable – and never more so than at this election.
Minehead – a fractured vote which could go anyway
In Minehead five candidates enter the fray. Sitting Tory Brenda Maitland-Walker is up against four well-known figures in the town. Labour’s Lesley Culverhouse, Marcus Kravis for the Lib Dems, Terry Venner of UKIP, and independent Andrew Hadley. All are strong characters who can claim some following: the likely result is a fractured vote which could end in victory for anyone.
A strong Labour challenge in Watchet and Stogursey
In Watchet and Stogursey new Tory candidate Chris Morgan, from Stogursey, faces powerful opposition from candidates with their bases in the more populous part of the division. Former bus worker Alan Bond will hope to build on Labour’s strong vote in Watchet. In Williton, newsagent Hugh Davies is making another run as an independent. UKIP are also standing.
Open season in Dunster
Dunster is another open contest, with sitting councillor Christine Lawrence facing opposition from Labour’s Andy Lewis plus the Lib Dems, UKIP and the only Green candidate in the district.
Greens endorse Labour candidate in Dulverton and Exmoor
In Dulverton and Exmoor Labour’s candidate Maureen Smith has the endorsement of the Green candidate for Dunster. UKIP also stand, against sitting Tory Frances Nicholson.