Labour unveils Post-Election plans for Bridgwater Town & Sedgemoor District

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The Red Flag still flies proudly in Bridgwater ‘

After the elections – Putting the Manifesto into practice

Following the elections of May 7th 2015 Labour retained control of Bridgwater Town Council and continues as main Opposition party on Sedgemoor District.

After a series of Party meetings and Town and District groups have reshuffled roles and agreed to work on a common strategy based on the Manifestos as produced during the elections


Labour controls Bridgwater Town Council 14 to 2. The opposition are now crucially divided and equally irrelevant with only 1 of each variety (Tory or LibDem)

Cllr Brian Smedley is the new Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, the Deputy Leader of Sedgemoor District Labour group and the Chair of the SDC Corporate Scrutiny Committee
Cllr Brian Smedley is the new Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, the Deputy Leader of Sedgemoor District Labour group and the Chair of the SDC Corporate Scrutiny Committee

The political structure of the Town Labour group for 2015-16 identifies Group Leader and Deputy leaders as Brian Smedley & Kathy Pearce thus making them Town Council Leader and Deputy, with Mick Lerry in a supportive role as group secretary.

The Town Council itself is administered by a minimal workforce of Alan Hurford (Town Clerk), his assistant Judi Fisher and Gerry the caretaker.

The Mayor of Bridgwater (Leigh Redman) and Deputy Mayor (Alec Glassford) have a largely ceremonial role, although both are Labour councillors.

Implementing the Labour Town Manifesto

Leigh Redman is the Mayor of Bridgwater for 2015-16 and the leader of Somerset County Council Labour Group

1. More Leisure & Recreation amenities, Full and genuine consultation with local people for recreational and leisure development on Northgate whilst preserving the green space. Preserve Bridgwater’s heritage, work with key partner groups, support ‘Community right to bid’. The next town council will set up Community Forums on issues such as transport, planning and new major projects as and when they arise so we can strengthen those links and harness the experience and knowledge of local people.

ACTION;- ‘Full Consultation’ is a key pledge and so we should demonstrate our sincerity here by setting up a series of Community Forums, opening the Town Hall doors to the people of Bridgwater and welcome ideas, initiative and open discussion. Town Development Forum as a forum for community consultation, should be a trial model for this. It can be delegate based from interested organisations (who wish to participate and have something useful to contribute – this to be determined by the Town Council). It should specifically –but not exclusively- focus initially on proposals for the Northgate site. The Forum should consist of Town Council members, Civic Society, Canal & Waterways project, Military Boats, Bridgwater Forward, Senior Citizens Forum, Trades Council – all of who have contributed to this project previously, but wider involvement should be sought from Churches (via ecumenical body), Carnival clubs (through central ctte), Traders (through relevant body), Disabled users groups, youth groups. Meetings should be for consultation, ideas, discussions and consensus with recommendations to Town Council for approval or amendment. Forums can also set up specific working parties as needed. The benefit of this approach not only involves the community but makes use of the community to supplement our minimal existing work force. We should also encourage attendance and participation of relevant SDC,SCC etc officers to help information exchange.

Kathy Pearce (Westover) is the Deputy Leader of Bridgwater Town Council and the Chair of SDC ‘Community Scrutiny’ committee

2. More amenities to cater for an increasing population whilst maintaining support for existing centres of culture such as the Art Centre and to help bring about new sports facilities such as the Kingsdown Pavilion.

ACTION;- Our representatives on existing outside bodies need to monitor and reportback-however minimally, and new projects need to have BTC reps on their management bodies.

3. Funding our neighbourhood communities

ACTION ;- Maintain core funding for Bridgwater’s community centres –Sydenham CC, Victoria Park CC, Hamp Community Association, maintain BTC reps on management boards

ACTION Promote a system of ward grants to support community development such as play schemes, luncheon clubs, the arts, cultural and educational links, public halls and a clean natural environment

4. Developing Youth Provision

ACTION Retain and develop youth provision in the town such as the Rollercoaster & multi-use games areas, outdoor gyms, play equipment.

ACTION Continue to campaign with young people to provide NEW youth facilities – like the town skateparks. This needs a Youth Forum to monitor existing provision, identify what is needed and to seek ways and means of achieving it, identifying funding etc. 25 year old councillor Diogo Rodrigues was nominated as spokesperson for youth to take a special interest , monitor and report back.

Diogo Rodrigues (Dunwear North) is Labour’s town council spokesperson for youth.

5. Revitalising the Town Centre -No more edge of town supermarkets. This needs to be maintained as a group policy on any committees where this arises. Consistently oppose planning decisions that degenerate our town centre and retain key town centre attractions. Clean up the streetscape, promote the celebration mile and work with local traders. Support housing development as a priority on brownfield sites. Protect our parks and green spaces

ACTION- Much of the above can be achieved by consistency at planning meetings, but a focus on the Town Centre and it’s future can be achieved through a more hands on and accountable approach to town centre management. The group would build on the work of Ian Tucker who attended BRI meetings and reported back. It also needs to build on the liaison work with traders developed during the ongoing EDF/SCC roadworks and seek solutions for both traders and shoppers to revitalise the town. The promotion of Bridgwater, the town guide, town app ,web, town centre events-snowflakes and shopping, fireworks, markets etc need to be opened up for wider input. A Town Centre Working Party should be formed to include the above brief and assist in the work of the Town Team.

ACTION;- We have identified a Town Transport Forum as a key consultation and campaigning body. We should set this up with a key spokesperson/facilitator and identify and involve user groups on a delegate basis such as ‘Rail users, Cyclists, Motorists, Disabled groups, pedestrians, Relevant Unions, residents parking champions etc

6. Benefitting from Hinkley C
ACTION- secure Community Impact Mitigation funding for Bridgwater. A Hinkley Impact Working Party needs to exist to monitor developments and to proactively seek projects that could achieve mitigation funding. This could work in conjunction with the SDC mitigation team including Phil Adams and Rob Semple. Cllr Leigh Redman was nominated as spokesperson for all things Hinkley to take a special interest , monitor and report back.

Mick Lerry (Victoria) is the Leader of the Sedgemoor District Labour group and the group's spokesman for Employment.
Mick Lerry (Victoria) is the Leader of the Sedgemoor District Labour group and the group’s spokesman for Employment.

7. High skilled well paid employment
ACTION;- As Labour isn’t in government we can’t end zero-hours contracts and directly affect the economy so we can only ‘promote’ the need for training opportunities , apprenticeships, well paid high skilled employment and local labour force agreements. Cllr Mick Lerry was nominated as spokesperson for Employment & Training to take a special interest , monitor and report back.


Existing Town Council Committees .
There are currently 3 standing committees of the Town Council – Finance, Planning and Museum. These should continue to operate as planned
FINANCE;- (8) J Turner (ch), K Pearce, B Smedley, A Moore, A Glassford,S Wilson, M Lerry
MUSEUM;- (4) D Loveridge (ch), M Brown, L Leavy, D Rodrigues
PLANNING;-(7) M Lerry(ch), M Brown, P Morley, L Leavy, L Redman, B Smedley

All outside bodies need to be relevant and accountable. This means they need to report back decisions either to the relevant committee, relevant forum or to the Full Council. We operate Twinning as an existing Forum –which means admin is taken away from the workload of the Town Clerk. We should seek to group these outside bodies into Forum themed groups and appoint key spokespeople/facilitators where practical.

Representation on  'Outside Bodies' is a crucial element of a Coucillors function. Moira Brown (Eastover) will represent the Town on the Arts Centre board
Representation on ‘Outside Bodies’ is a crucial element of a Councillors function. Moira Brown (Eastover) will represent the Town on the Arts Centre board

• Blake and Gilbert charity (5) JOHN TURNER & GRAHAM GRANTER ( 4 years from 2015)- Mrs Briscombe, Ms Pearce Mr Taylor (proposed from 2012)
• Brent Marshall & Mansfield Charity (5) LIZ LEAVY & GRAHAM GRANTER (4 years from 2015) Mrs Briscombe, Cllr Loveridge Cllr Turner (proposed from 2012)
• Tamlin Charity (4) life term Mayor & Dep Mayor + Adrian Moore & Ken Richards
• Towell Charity (2) life term ms Pearce & mr Smeed
• Bridgwater Memorial Homes (1) ADRIAN MOORE
• Friends of Wembdon road cemetry(1) Mayor as President
• SDC standards ctte Town & Parish member (1)PAT MORLEY
• BTC grievance & Disciplinary panel (5) Mayor + 4 MICK LERRY ADRIAN MOORE JOHN TURNER BRIAN SMEDLEY
• BTC Appeals panel(3) Dep Mayor +2 GRAHAM GRANTER PAT MORLEY
• Cheque Signatories GRANTER,LOVERIDGE,TURNER, REDMAN, Town clerk
• Internal auditor Mrs Geri O Loughlin

• Bridgwater la Ciotat (1) BRIAN SMEDLEY
• Bridgwater Homberg (1) Mayor as president
• Bridgwater Marsa (1) Mayor as president
• Bridgwater Czech/Slovak (1)MICK LERRY
• Since 2014 Twinning has been operated as ‘Bridgwater Town Twinning Forum’ with each society nominating a delegate with Brian Smedley as Twinning secretary
• France-Keith Giles Germany- Ros Holman Hungary-Ian Tucker
• Czech-Mick Lerry Malta-Pat Morgan Italy-Hilary Bruce

Dave Loveridge (Eastover) will represent the Group on the Bridgwater Retail Initiative
Dave Loveridge (Eastover) will represent the Group on the Bridgwater Retail Initiative

TOWN DEVELOPMENT & HERITAGE (Town Development Forum)
• Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce & Trade DAVE LOVERIDGE
• Bridgwater Heritage Regeneration Partnership (1)LEIGH REDMAN (+ Dave Loveridge as deputy)
• Community Assets Working Party BRIAN SMEDLEY (ch) ,PAT MORLEY,MICK LERRY +1 tory/ lib

• Wyndham Lecture trust for the schools of Bridgwater (1)MICK LERRY
• Bridgwater Arts Centre (observer) (1)MOIRA BROWN
• MUSEUM;- (4) DLoveridge (ch), MBrown, LLeavy, DRodrigues
• Carnival Ctte;- (1) Mayor of Bridgwater

• Bridgwater Transport Strategy review and connect 3 (when est) (1)ADRIAN MOORE

• Hinkley Point (ex liaison ctte) site stakeholder group (1)LEIGH REDMAN (+sub MICK LERRY)
• EDF energy Working Party ADRIAN MOORE,LEIGH REDMAN.MOIRA BROWN, SOIBHAN WILSON +Town clerk+ 1 tory or lib dem
• National Grid HPC Connection Project South Local Community Forum – LEIGH REDMAN

Liz Leavy (Wyndham) will represent the Town on the Meads Steering group
Liz Leavy (Wyndham) will represent the Town on the Meads Steering group

• Meads Steering Group;- LIZ LEAVY

• Hamp Community Association (1)JOHN TURNER
• Cluster group (SDC)(4)JOHN TURNER PAT MORLEY + Town clerk . This group should add Liz Leavy, Diogo Rodrigues, Siobhan Wilson, Peter Johnstone (NB AM as Chair)
• Westover Green Community school minor LA governor (Mrs EH Hudson)
• Sydenham 1 ;- DIOGO RODRIGUES


The Labour Group has a harder role to play on the District Council with an overwhelming Tory majority and with 5 of the 15 councillors in Bridgwater now being non Labour (4 Con 1 Ukip) However, while we remain as the main opposition we need to utilise our opportunities .

Leadership;Mick Lerry as leader and Brian Smedley as deputy need to maintain the flow of Labour motions to council but these need to be relevant and complementary to the aims of the Labour movement nationally and locally and could often come out of Town Council actions and Group or Branch imperatives.


Shadow Portfolio Holders are key to holding the Tory Exec to account. Wes Hinckes will take on the role of Community & Scrutiny.
Shadow Portfolio Holders are key to holding the Tory Exec to account. Wes Hinckes will take on the role of Community & Scrutiny.

hadow Portfolios ;- The identified group members with portfolios should keep the pressure on their Executive shadows and maintain access to information, regularly reporting back to group.
Environment (Kathy Pearce) Community & Scrutiny (Wes Hinckes) Economic Strategy (Mick Lerry)
Corporate and Scrutiny (Moira Brown) Housing (Alex Glassford) Development Strategy (Graham Granter)

Scrutiny;- The role of chair of the 2 key scrutiny committees is crucial to our influence in challenging Tory decisions and so the group should be heavily involved in developing themes for scrutiny.
Scrutiny is divided as internal (Corporate –Brian Smedley) and external (Community-Kathy Pearce)

Group administration;– The group will continue to meet on the following occasions
a) On the Monday ahead of each Full Council meeting to determine group response.
b) On occasion with the SDC Management team to maintain dialogue and flow of information between group and senior officers.

Graham Granter (Fairfax) will be the District Group Chairman for the year and the spokesman for Planning
Graham Granter (Fairfax) will be the District Group Chairman for the year and the spokesman for Planning

The group to be administered by Chair (Graham Granter) Secretary (Kathy Pearce) Treasurer (Alec Glassford) and Whip (Leigh Redman) and fronted by Leader Mick Lerry and Deputy Leader Brian Smedley

Key (achievable) Group Manifesto pledges
1. Somerset wide public transport forum
2. Community benefit from Hinkley C
3. Low carbon renewable energy development
4. Parrett surge barrage
5. Respect for heritage of town and enhance green spaces
6. Regenerate town centres, encourage retail through innovation & diversity
7. Comprehensive leisure and recreation development for Northgate
8. More houses to rent with long term secure tenancies
9. New employers to pay at least the living wage
10. Skilled and well paid job opportunities for local people
11. Oppose a 3 weekly refuse collection
12. Oppose the bedroom tax

lab 2
Voting with your heart and your head keeps Bridgwater RED.

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Belinda Boobyerb
Belinda Boobyerb
9 years ago

Ukip still got more votes in bridgwater than labour ??

Alan Bond
Alan Bond
9 years ago

The dead hand of toryism is now descended upon the populace and even without a mandate of any kind they will make life harder for the majority while sucking up to their big business cronies. They in turn will have carte blanche to exploit the rest of us unmercifully. It’s good to hear that Labour are in control of Bridgwater but I have no doubt that the tory government will make every effort to nullify any good things that Labour controlled parts of the country can do for their communities. Meanwhile, our useless MP fiddles while Rome burns and we need to make life as hard as possible for him over the next five years. Unfortunately I can see us being stuck with him for the forseeable future as I have no doubt that the tories will attempt to gerrymander their way into permanent power.

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