Alarm Bells are Ringing at Somerset County Council

Sunday, 15 July 2018
Leigh Redman
Leigh Redman, Labour opposition leader at County

Conservative-run Somerset County Council has warned that the authority is on the brink of following Northamptonshire Council into bankruptcy. A report issued to Somerset County Council Cabinet meeting this week noted that it may be necessary for them to issue a Section 114 if their £12.1m deficit is not addressed. Demand for children’s services is higher than last year, forcing the council to approve the use of £5m of their £7.3m contingency funds. These funds are set aside to see the department through the year but only three-months into the financial year, the authority is predicting a £14.3m budget deficit in their children’s services.

Councillor Leigh Redman, Leader of the Labour group on Somerset County Council, speaking after attending the Cabinet meeting, said: “Government cuts and funding pressures have come together to cause this current worrying financial environment, and local taxpayers and especially Somerset’s young people and children must not be the ones who suffer. Our children services have only just come out of two inadequate OFSTED ratings, and it has been a real challenge to make the service fit for purpose while maintaining our provision to the young people of Somerset. The service is under pressure from a number of fronts, including difficulty in recruiting a permanent workforce with some 60 vacancies. This places increasing pressure on the salaries budget due to a greater dependence on locum social workers. The Government and Somerset Council must do everything in their power to make sure it can’t be our children who pay the price for their bad decisions and enforced austerity.” Continue reading “Alarm Bells are Ringing at Somerset County Council”

NHS 70th Birthday Party Celebrated around the County

Wednesday, 11 July 2018
NHS birthday celebrations in Bridgwater

On 7th July, The Labour Party and Trade Unionists from the South West community joined together to celebrate the NHS’ 70th Birthday.  Events took place in most parts of Somerset. Labour members even held a tea party in Frome town centre supporting the NHS and celebrating the Labour achievement in creating the most positive contribution to the health and well-being of this country that any government has ever made.

Glenn Cane (Trade Union Liaison Officer for Bridgwater Labour Party) warned “Our National Health Service is being destroyed through a nursing/doctor shortage due to underfunding, waiting lists rising, wages cut in real terms causing Nurses to use food banks and some choosing suicide due to the pressure put upon them. Jeremy Hunt, then Health Secretary, wrote a book called Democracy: An Agenda For A New Model Party calling for the denationalisation of the NHS.  His family are related to the late Oswald Mosley.  We call on all Trade Unions to join us  in celebration of our beloved NHS service and those who work tirelessly to keep it running.The Labour Party will fully fund the NHS when we are elected to Government.  Now is the time to stand up for our NHS.  Always remember – the NHS is not only about those who work for the NHS.  We are all future patients, an accident away from this crucial lifeline.” Continue reading “NHS 70th Birthday Party Celebrated around the County”

Yeovil Celebrates British Women Receiving the Vote

Tuesday, 10 July 2018
Yeovil Womens Day

Yeovil celebrated the centenary of British women receiving the vote by hosting an event that presented a number of prominent female speakers from the local area, sharing and expressing themselves on a wide variety of lifestyles and causes.

Yeovil Women’s Day 2018 was organised and run by the Yeovil Constituency Labour Party through its Women’s & Fundraising Officer Bethan Crisfield and Disability Officer Claire Rutigliano, both whom had taken active roles since becoming officers in the past year.

Continue reading “Yeovil Celebrates British Women Receiving the Vote”

Standing Up for Labour in Minehead

Sunday, 13 May 2018
Standing Up for Labour in Minehead

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”

The Deplorable Record of Ian Liddell-Grainger

Thursday, 10 May 2018
The Bridgwater and West Somerset Mp’ Ian Lidelll-Grainger

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”

Unitary Debate Back on the Table

Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Cllr Brian Smedley calls for engagement with the unitary review to bring power back to the Boroughs

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”

May Day Rally in Wells-Somerset’s First for 24 Years

Sunday, 6 May 2018
labour banner
Wells Labour Party banner to the front

“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.

Solidarity, also, to Wells, from Somerset’s working-class capital: Bridgwater. Continue reading “May Day Rally in Wells-Somerset’s First for 24 Years”

Our “Listening MP” Turns a Deaf Ear to Families of Disabled Children

Wednesday, 2 May 2018
Your ‘Listening Mp’ Ian Lidell-Grainger

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.

However just before the Easter holidays it came to light that Conservative Somerset County Council had made staff redundant from the PIMST and were intending to significantly reduce the service, without any form of consultation with parents. Continue reading “Our “Listening MP” Turns a Deaf Ear to Families of Disabled Children”

Bridgwater Meeting Resolves to Fight to Save Our NHS

Saturday, 28 April 2018
art centre nhs day
Dr El Gingihy on the stage at the Bridgwater Arts Centre with Glen Burrows and Gary Tucker

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”

Tackling Congestion in Bridgwater

Thursday, 19 April 2018
Bridgwater Mayor Cllr Graham Granter at the Colley Lane Relief Road turf cutting

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.

Turf cutting at Colley lane

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”.

Cllr Graham Granter Mayor of Bridgwater

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”

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Continue reading “Tackling Congestion in Bridgwater”