Somerset Labour is pulling out all the stops in 2013 and fielding its most impressive slate of candidates in recent memory. While some might be relatively new to elected politics, they can draw on decades of invaluable life experience to take the fight to the Tories across the county.
Local government veteran Richard Hampson is one such candidate of experience, spearheading Labour’s efforts to re-take Bridgwater West from Wembdon based sitting Conservative Ann Bown. Bridgwater West contains the traditional Labour ward of Victoria and the currently Tory ward of Wyndham but not long ago it was one of Labour’s four Bridgwater County seats. It is now a key marginal which Labour needs to win.
A father and grandfather, Richard was born in Bridgwater, went to Dr Morgan’s Grammar School (now Haygrove), and found his first job with the former Bridgwater Rural District Council.
‘A Long and Distinguished career’
It wasn’t long, though, before the local boy decided to fly the nest: “I served with the Councils in Taunton then Seaton in Devon before moving to the London Borough of Hillingdon, where, after various promotions, I became the head of a large department with 225 staff and a £5million budget”. But after a long and distinguished career, the Conservatives intervened: “When the Tories took control of Hillingdon huge savings were required, and I took voluntary retirement on the grounds of redundancy. I am proud that I achieved the savings required from my department without any compulsory redundancies”. Continue reading “Richard Hampson-Spearheading Labour’s efforts to re-take Bridgwater West”
This week Nick Clegg said “The Lib Dems are a party of Government not protest and we should be judged on our record.” It looks like people are doing just that. As High-Profile candidates publicly quit the Party on stage at their Spring conference their disillusioned voters are looking elsewhere for an alternative.
In Yeovil the Labour Party believes it can be that alternative and is contesting every single seat in May 2nd’s Somerset County Council elections.
And where better than Yeovil to seal the lid firmly on the LibDem coffin of betrayal. It was in this constituency some 30 years ago that Paddy Ashdown re-launched the modern ‘grassroots’ Liberals with a message that ‘Labour will never get in here so vote for us and we might’. 30 years later Ashdown is a nervous fellow traveller in a Tory Government that is doing everything that Libdem voters fought against yet now with their official blessing and running their own party into the ground in the process. Continue reading “Lib Dems in Freefall as Labour look to Gain in County Elections”
Labour’s Barbara O’Connor has spoken passionately about her motivation for standing in May’s County Council elections, and her fears about the grim future her young son’s generation could inherit from the Tories and their Lib Dem coalition partners.
Barbara, who’s standing in Bridgwater East and Bawdrip against County Tory Portfolio Holder David Hall, was born in Dublin, and spent her childhood in Ireland. Fourteen years ago she moved to Somerset, firstly living in Cossington where she got her first real taste of local politics as a parish councillor, before moving onto Bridgwater’s Bower Manor Estate where she currently lives. For twelve years she has worked as a civil servant in Taunton, and is a dedicated single mum, balancing a hectic work life with caring for her ten year-old son and, increasingly, politics.
“Bridgwater has great potential”
Barbara speaks fondly of her adopted home-town, and helping often-neglected Bridgwater weather rough economic waters would rank highly on her list of priorities if elected in May: “Bridgwater has great potential and I want to help shape the future of all our children. I want to bring local issues to the table at county-level, and fight for the things that matter to us – be it road maintenance and highways, leisure facilities, our children’s’ education or stopping the devastating cuts being made to the vital public services our families need, for now and for the future”. Continue reading ““Tories and Lib Dems letting us all down.” says Bridgwater East Candidate”
At the recent launch of the Somerset Labour Party Manifesto for the elections on May 2nd, candidates from all over the county got together to discuss the issues that will dominate the forthcoming campaign. In Shepton Mallet, a town with a strong Labour history, Chris Inchley is the candidate and he has already made known his forthright views on the failings of the Coaliation Government on his blog and in local papers. At the Taunton launch he shared his perspective with other delegates.
“So the Conservatives with the Lib Dem poodles are launching their next phase of punishing low paid people. Poll Tax 2 is landing on many low paid people of working age door mats.In Mendip, they will pay a minimum 20% of the Council Tax with the previously exempt, now having to pay a minimum of £4 a week.”
The Labour Party launched its campaign and manifesto for May’s Somerset County Council elections on Monday in Taunton. Labour councillors, candidates and activists were joined outside County Hall by Mary Creagh MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Addressing candidates and activists Mary Creagh said:
“We all know it’s time for a change here in County Hall, and in May Somerset will have the chance to vote for a clear, credible alternative. Today, we are setting out Labour’s priorities for Somerset, and I’m confident that over the coming weeks, as Labour candidates and activists pound the streets and talk to people right across the County, voters will soon see that these priorities represent the right choice for Somerset.”
Conservative and Lib-Dem councillors are backing cuts to the fire and rescue service that would put lives in Somerset at risk.
Members of West Somerset Labour Party heard the frightening details of the planned cuts at their February branch meeting. Jez Rawlings – the Fire Brigades Union representative for retained firefighters in Somerset – said the proposed cuts would drastically reduce the ability to deal with major fires, road crashes and other emergencies.
The corporate plan drawn up by Devon and Somerset Fire Authority would slash the number of full time firefighters by 149. Taunton fire station now has two fire engines crewed by full-timers. That would be cut to one.
The government has said front line services will not be hit. But Jez told the West Somerset meeting that in making savings the authority had gone “straight to the front line.” He said that although no fire station closure are provided in this round of cuts, he expects to see closures in the next stage of the process. Continue reading “Lives at risk as Tories and Lib Dems back cuts”
Alexia Bartlett, Labour candidate for the Huntspill ward in the Somerset County Council election scheduled for May 2nd, has reacted angrily to today’s news that Somersets flagship theatre the Brewhouse is to close.
“When are those in positions of power going to acknowledge the importance of the arts? The 100% cuts to arts funding throughout the county, and now the closure of the Brewhouse, have made it clear to the electorate that artistic and creative expression have no place in 21st century Somerset. Never mind that theatre and writing has its roots in ancient Greece – the great country which established democracy. Never mind that performance extends back to Sanskrit cultures. Never mind the artistic expressions etched on Stone Age walls. Forget that theatre was witnessed years ago in the Passion plays of Christ. Hey, let’s just forget Shakespeare. Throughout life, art, writing, theatre, music,dance and all means of creativity have been fundamental to people’s emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical well-being. Artistic creativity is recognised medically as necessary for certain cases of recuperation. It is often a social activity, binding together communities and building skills of compromise and communication. And yes, it can be highly academic, requiring abilities of analysis, evaluation and articulation. I should know, I teach ‘A’ level Drama. My students are intelligent, responsive, reflective individuals who are passionate about the arts and theatre. I would hate them to infer that what they regard as important, is actually completely irrelevant to life. It’s not. Art underpins life, and has done for centuries.”
At today’s (Wednesday 20th February) annual budget setting meeting of Somerset County Council the Tory controlled administration will push through £16 million of cuts this year. The majority of the proposed cuts fall on the most vulnerable and on front line services for the public of Somerset.
The Labour party is demanding that the Conservative leadership of Somerset County Council reconsider their priorities and refocus on the needs of the people and businesses of Somerset.
Cynical use of reserves
The Labour Party also condemns the cynical use of £5.6 million of reserves in the budget in order to mitigate the deepest cuts in the run up to the election. This merely postpones the worst until after the next election. Cuts for the next two years are projected to be even deeper, with savings of £26m in 2014/2015, and a further £24m in 2015/2016. It is impossible to envisage how a reduced budget of this level can be achieved without a serious detrimental impact on the physical environment of Somerset and the public who make use of the services the County provides..
The cuts are being imposed while the County Council continues to spend £4 million on a refurbishment of County Hall and a further £3 million on consultancy services over an 18 month period to support its misguided and delayed reorganisation of the Council.
So here we are halfway through a race to the bottom on public services and in old typical Tory fashion if you can’t afford it you should go without, all decisions endorsed by our Local MP David Laws. Please see quotes below
“There will be many more tough decisions, but we believe that the British people understand that these choices can no longer be ducked.”
David Laws, speech, 24 May 2010,
Laws has defended the Liberal Democrats’ decision to sign up to cuts, saying that it
For 64 years, the Agricultural Wages Board has set the wages and conditions for farm workers across England and Wales. Without this protection, farm workers would be worse off – and so would the local economy, with wages pushed down and living standards of working people hit.
The Tories and Lib Dems voted for its abolition last year and it remains under threat. Somerton and Frome MP, David Heath, as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, covers Agricultural Wages.
152,000 farm workers in England and Wales would be affected by the abolition of the AWB; 23,460 of these in the South West. Over 1,000 of them in each of Bridgwater and West Somerset and Somerton and Frome constituencies.
Write to your MP at the House of Commons, asking her or him to reconsider the abolition of the AWB for England and Wales, and to Members of the House of Lords who will be considering the matter as a late Government amendment (28ZK) to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.