Labour To Introduce Free Bus Travel for Under 25’s

Thursday, 12 April 2018
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn announces major new policy

Labour is announcing a new policy to fund free bus travel for under 25 year olds across the country. The move could benefit up to 13 million young people, help  them save up to £1,000 a year and will be paid for using money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty. The next Labour government will provide funds for free travel for under 25s to local authorities who introduce bus franchising or move to public ownership of their local bus services. This will support and incentivise local authorities to create municipally owned bus companies, run for passengers not profit, which research has found could achieve annual savings of £276 million per year.

Continue reading “Labour To Introduce Free Bus Travel for Under 25’s”

Andy Lewis

Monday, 9 April 2018
Andy Lewis, one of the main writers of the Somerset Labour Web, who died this week.

I sadly have to inform you that Andy Lewis died at the end of last week from a fall in his home. We are all devastated at the loss of our friend, who was such an active and illustrious member of the Party. Andy’s journalism skills were invaluable in composing Labour press releases and election leaflets for Parliamentary, District and Town elections.  He was an active campaigner and held the roles of  West Somerset Branch Secretary and Treasurer at Constituency and Branch level for many years.He was also a Minehead Town Councillor for the Alcombe ward for the past three years.His bravery, energy, good humour and friendship will be very much missed by many across the constituency. We send our sympathy to his family and inform those wishing to attend that his funeral will be held on Monday 23rd April at noon at Taunton Deane Crematorium

Andy was born in Nottingham , attended Nottingham University, and spent most of his working life as a journalist at the BBC, including the role of Senior Editor of the news team at BBC Radio 4.

Labour Activist

mick in minehead
Andy Lewis out campaigning with councillors Mick Lerry and Maureen Smith

Andy and his wife, Barbra, moved to West Somerset with their three children in the late 1990s.  Following the death of his wife and his subsequent early retirement, Andy became actively involved in local life.  He volunteered for the West Somerset Advice Bureau for many years along with a shorter stint at the Sedgemoor Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

As well as his Labour activities, which included the writing of many letters and features to the West Somerset Free Press, Andy was an active members of Amnesty International, the West Somerset LETS organisation, a regular quizzer with the Roadwater team, the Valiant Nomads, who under his captainship won many contests.

Sadly Missed

badger lewis
Labour’s Andy Lewis out on badger patrol at the height of the cull
He also volunteered for West Somerset Engage, a furniture recycling project and Taunton Oxfam, where Andy was able to combine his love of books with volunteer work.
Andy was a long term supporter of Arsenal, was an avid reader, writer and enjoyed jazz and blues music in particular.
Andy was a strong supporter of the Somerset Labour Web and our most regular contributor over the years writing many features that were taken up regionally and nationally by the press.
He leaves a lasting legacy and will be very sadly missed by many.

Labour Fighting for 2 Seats in Shepton Mallet

Sunday, 8 April 2018
Labour shepton
Labour Candidates and supporters out canvassing in Shepton Mallet

There are 2 By-Elections in Shepton Mallet coming up. The East and West wards of the Town Council each have 2 vacancies  and the election will be held on Thursday 3rd May. The vacancies have been caused by the death of a sitting councillor, the forfeiture of a councillor for non-attendance and the resignation of two others.

In the East ward it’s a battle between 2 Tories, 2 Independents and a Lib Dem, but in the West ward The Labour Party is putting up two candidates for the two seats – Paul Turner and Gill Pettitt.

Shepton Mallet already has TWO Labour Town councillors, Chris Inchley and Deborah Towner, but Shepton Branch Labour Party have been increasingly active in local issues notably the recent campaign over the bed closures in Shepton Hospital and now regarding the library. Both Gill and Paul know the town well and Paul has been at the core of the hospital protest and the legal challenges mounted against SOMPAR.

labour shepton
Labour canvassers

Paul is also the Wells Rural Affairs Officer and recently organised the Rural Affairs Panel which was addressed by David Drew MP – Shadow Farming Minister. In preparation for this Paul has also visited over 50 local farms and his knowledge of this aspect of the community and Labour Policies in relation to Rural Affairs is a huge asset to the town, the community and to the Party.

Labour across the county has rallied to the cause and there were 11 canvassers out yesterday – from all 4 branches of the Wells CLP and will be canvassing there again at 10.30 next Saturday .


London GP to speak at Bridgwater Meeting on Crisis in NHS

Friday, 30 March 2018
Youssef El-Gingihy at Bridgwater Arts Centre April 28th

Bridgwater & District Branch Labour Party is to hold a Public Meeting about what is currently happening to our NHS.  Dr Youssef El-Gingihy, who is a GP from London, will be speaking at the free event at the Bridgwater Arts Centre on Saturday 28th April at 12.00 and it is open to all members of the public.

Gary Tucker, Bridgwater Branch Secretary, says “Despite the usual pressures of winter, this one just gone was particularly difficult for the NHS. Listening to staff who work there, this last winter was  harder than usual for the service to cope.  This can only be due to the terrible cuts of this disgraceful Tory government.  They have deliberately under-funded the Health Service.  The standard tactic of privatisation is to defund it, make it worse so that the users end up hating it so that privatisation can be justified and accepted.  Add into it the legal challenge against Jeremy Hunt who is trying to by-pass Parliamentary scrutiny for his next stage of his plans- ACOs and many other things the public aren’t told about, you have a recipe for the end of the NHS as we know it.  I trust my Doctor and what she says, now come and hear this doctor at the NHS event and he will reveal what is really going on.  What I’ve heard so far made me want to weep.” Continue reading “London GP to speak at Bridgwater Meeting on Crisis in NHS”

Labour Motion on ‘single use plastic free Sedgemoor’ passed

Sunday, 25 March 2018
Cllr Kathy Pearce
Cllr Kathy Pearce, Labour’s environment spokesperson

Bridgwater Town Council deputy leader Cllr Kathy Pearce (Westover) has introduced a range of ‘green’ measures in her role of Town Environment spokesperson and has now achieved a major breakthrough in getting her motion on ‘single use plastics’ passed by Sedgemoor District Council. Her motion was seconded by Somerset County Councillor Leigh Redman (Bridgwater South) who had recently encouraged moves at County level in a similar direction.

Cllr Pearce, speaking at the Sedgemoor Council meeting of  21st March, said “An estimated 9 million tonnes of plastic enters our seas and oceans every year, causing immense damage to marine life and the environment, The succesful introduction of a 5p plastic bag levy in England in 2015 led to an 85% reduction in the number of plastic bags used. A ban on microbeads from most cosmetics is due to be implemented later this year. A huge proportion of the plastic entering our oceans is single-use plastic (SUP) . This is not a new problem and something has to change”


Cllr Pearces motion  committed the council to ‘working with partners, suppliers and customers to develop a strategy and timetable to make Sedgemoor District Council a ‘single use plastic free’ authority, specifically the phasing out of sales and use of SUP bottles and other SUP products across all premises and events.

As Chair of the Community Scrutiny committee she was given the authority to consider a strategy and timetable for this project and to present a recommendation to Full Council in September 2018. Continue reading “Labour Motion on ‘single use plastic free Sedgemoor’ passed”

Labour Housing Motion passed by Sedgemoor Council

Sunday, 25 March 2018
sdc labour group
Sedgemoor Labour Group discusses putting a motion to Sedgemoor District Council

The Labour Group on Sedgemoor District Council have been able to persuade the ruling Tory group, that there is a need for Councils to build more houses, in the housing delivery programme. Cllr Mick Lerry ,moving a motion on Housing Delivery at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday 21st March said: ‘ Much has been said recently by Government on the Broken Housing Market, but the emphasis had been on planning, rather than the role of Local Government to build Council Houses. The Government needed to remove the borrowing cap on the Council’s Housing Revenue Account, to allow SDC to borrow the necessary money to build Council houses.”

Cllr Lerry (Labour,Bridgwater Victoria) continued “In Sedgemoor there is an urgent need for rented accommodation, such as Council houses, for local people. Councils borrowing money to build Council houses, with a proper business case to pay off the loans, should be allowed to do so and it should not be seen as public debt. Borrowing to build houses was really about an investment in the community to build rented accommodation, which would eventually pay off the loan. This is the way that many developers and builders function in the housing market and Councils should be allowed to build and provide affordable homes”. Continue reading “Labour Housing Motion passed by Sedgemoor Council”

Labour Councillor Attacks Yeovil Parking Charge Hike

Saturday, 17 March 2018
Terry Ledlie (Labour, Yeovil South)

Labour Town Councillor for Yeovil South, Terry Ledlie, does not believe that plans to introduce car parking charges in Yeovil on Sunday, is in the best interests of the Town. South Somerset District Council is also planning a ten per cent rise to car parking charges, Monday – Saturday, and justify the proposed rises by saying it’s to help to pay for the maintenance of pay-machines.

Terry said  “I find this very hard to believe! Other towns like Radstock whose machines still offer free parking, will continue having to maintain their machines; so, in reality the argument of maintenance does not stack up. It would seem that  councillors are using rises in car parking charges to raise revenue, apparently up to £20,000 per year. However, this will be at the expense of hard working people and  these councillors forget that this move could have a negative effect on Yeovil, turning it into a mere Ghost Town. With this happening, more and more people are travelling away from Yeovil. It is time, that complacent councillors changed their approach and their willingness to manage the decline.”

Terry added “If Yeovil were to offer a scheme of free parking for the first hour then it would bring many more people to our Town and that would in turn boost the local economy”. Continue reading “Labour Councillor Attacks Yeovil Parking Charge Hike”

Frome By Election: 2nd Place Labour now the Alternative Voice

Friday, 16 March 2018
Labour now hot on the tails of the Frome Independents

The Frome Market Ward by-election held last night (15.3.2018) saw the ruling Independents for Frome (IfF) retain their seat and their 100% control of the Town Council but the real story of the night was the 43% increase in the Labour vote propelling their candidate Neil Burns into second place while Tory and Lib Dem votes crumbled, making Labour the alternative choice for Frome.

IfF candidate Mark Dorrington took 53% of the vote and on a reduced turnout of only 21% (down from the 61% of the 2015 election) meant the IfF vote had dropped by 4% ,which could hardly be seen as an indication of the massive community engagement promised in the new politics of the ‘Independent’ Town Council.

The Tory vote dropped by 22% and they dropped from 2nd to 3rd place while the LibDem vote continued to plummet a further 8% leaving them in last place. Continue reading “Frome By Election: 2nd Place Labour now the Alternative Voice”

Labour Challenge ‘One-Party Rule’ in Frome

Wednesday, 7 March 2018
Neil Burns
Neil Burns, Labour candidate in the Frome by election on March 15th

Frome Town Council caused a minor sensation a few years back when the ‘Independents’ won some seats on the council and then won all of them. However, in an effort to ‘break the mould’ of old party politics they had instead just created a ‘one party state’ of independents. On 15th March Frome people have the chance to break that mould with an input of socialism and can vote instead for Labour Party candidate Neil Burns.

Neil, who lives in Frome with his wife and their two children, is standing for the Market Ward in the Frome Town Council by-election. Neil says “Every election is a choice: you can choose more of the same or you can vote for a party with a plan for change -and that is the Labour Party.”. Continue reading “Labour Challenge ‘One-Party Rule’ in Frome”

Obituary- Ken Richards, Mick Briscombe, Jean Whitehouse

Wednesday, 14 February 2018
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 .