The People Vote for STRONGER SOMERSET – But will the Government just Ignore it?

Monday, 7 June 2021
The Stronger Somerset tanks are now on the lawn of David Fothergill’s failing feudal project

The voters of Somerset have spoken and shown their support for Stronger Somerset – the plan for two councils, an Eastern Somerset and a Western Somerset council, to replace Somerset’s existing five county and district councils. The result of the local poll, which closed on Friday 4 June, was delivered today by Civica Electoral Services, who independently ran and verified the ballot. Leader of Sedgemoor Labour Group and Bridgwater Town Council, Brian Smedley (Labour, Westover) said “That’s a clear 2.1 victory for Stronger Somerset , more democracy, more accountability and a clear rejection of this ridiculous idea of one over large council and for a county that recognises its diversity. It’s a vote for local government, for people knowing their councillors and for more power back to the communities. My worry is that Secretary of State Jenrick will just ignore it and plough ahead with a cuts agenda and we’ll end up with the remote feudal option that David Fothergill and the Medievalists have been peddling.  However, if he does that now it’s in the face of a popular vote telling him not to!”

Sedgemoor Labour Leaders joined the cross party protest at County Hall in the final days of the campaign.  Labour Deputy Leader Cllr Kathy Pearce (Bridgwater, Westover) said “This was a genuine consultation which stimulated debate in a way One Somerset never did. Residents have voted and the result is clear support for Stronger Somerset. Let’s just hope that the government takes notice.” Continue reading “The People Vote for STRONGER SOMERSET – But will the Government just Ignore it?”


Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Polling Tonight!

Ballot papers for the local poll on options for change in local government in Somerset are now in the hands of all of the county’s residents care of an initiative by the 4 District Councils to make sure the people had the referendum they were previously denied by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick whose ‘consultation’ exercise ended in April without such an option.   The poll, which ends on June 4th, asks voters to choose between the two options being considered by Government to replace the existing five councils – county council and the four district councils:

  1. One council for Somerset(“One Somerset” – the plan for a single council proposed by Somerset County Council)
  2. Two councils for Somerset: Eastern Somerset and Western Somerset (“Stronger Somerset” the plan for two councils for Somerset – an Eastern and a Western Somerset council – proposed by Somerset West and Taunton Council and the other district councils of Somerset).

The poll is being independently run and verified by Civica Electoral Services on behalf of the four district councils and ballot papers are accompanied by two information leaflets – one on each proposal. Continue reading “STRONGER SOMERSET-THE POLL MUST GO ON”

‘Somerset Working Class’ : A Clevedonian publishes a three-volume autobiography

Friday, 21 May 2021
Three new books from Socialist author Dave Chapple

Dave Chapple is a former North Somerset school cleaner, firefighter and postman; a life-long cyclist, Black Music DJ, historian, trades unionist and socialist. Dave, who was born in Clevedon in 1951, and lived on a local council estate till he was 35, has now, in his seventieth year, written and published a three-volume autobiography. The three separate volumes are focussed on different aspects of his younger life in Clevedon, and are collectively entitled: “Somerset Working-class.”

All three volumes are of A4 size, profusely illustrated in B&W and colour, thoroughly documented, and beautifully designed by former print trades unionist, now South West TUC Secretary, Nigel Costley. All three books have been published with the generous financial support of the Communication Workers’ Union, which Dave has been a member of for forty-two years.

Somerset working-class autobiographies, especially rebellious ones, are as rare as hens’ teeth, and Dave hopes that his stories can encourage other Somerset working-class women and men, especially trades unionists, footballers, DJs and cyclists, to put pen to paper!

Each individual volume costs £5, plus £2 postage and packing. The three volume set costs £15, plus £5 postage and packing. Direct bank payments welcome: e-mail for details. Please make any cheques out to “D. T. Chapple” and send to 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU. Please send all book reviews and any other enquiries to Dave direct on    Phone 07707869144 Continue reading “‘Somerset Working Class’ : A Clevedonian publishes a three-volume autobiography”

Has the Government Learnt the Rail Lessons of Privatisation?

Thursday, 20 May 2021
Cllr Glen Burrows -Bridgwater Town Council spokesperson for Transport

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail was published on May 20 th , 2021 and is based on the Williams Review of the future structure of the rail industry. This long-awaited government white paper follows almost three decades of rail privatisation. During this time we have seen fares shoot up, services have been lost, branch lines and stations closed and staff replaced by machines. Recent polls show a majority of people in Britain want a return to a publicly-owned and managed train system, rather than one which is run for profits. For example: three rolling stock leasing companies own more than 85% of trains running on Britain’s railways. Last year, Eversholt, one of these, paid shareholders a dividend of £46.5 million! Bridgwater Town Council Transport Spokesperson Cllr Glen Burrows (Labour, Eastover)  says “Unfortunately, the government does not seem to have learned the lessons of the failed policy of rail privatisation – perhaps this is because hardly any government ministers use trains – or, if they do, they claim the cost on expenses. But that’s another story”

So, what is the Williams-Shapps Plan proposing? Does it really offer a major change in the way our railways are run? Continue reading “Has the Government Learnt the Rail Lessons of Privatisation?”

Lack of jobs for young people  “scandalous”, says Yeovil Labour Party

Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Rebecca Haselgrove- Yeovil Labour Women’s Officer

New figures show that the economic recession is squeezing 16-24 year old’s out of the jobs market.  Young people are bearing the brunt of the recession, both here in Somerset and across the country. This is a scandal that needs addressing urgently, says Yeovil Labour Party. With new jobs becoming few and far between, those leaving education are finding it very much more difficult to get into employment. The worsening job market is also hitting students, as many rely on part-time jobs to fund their education .Young people’s jobs have been disproportionately clustered in retail, bars , cafes and takeaways, which have been hard-hit by the recession and Covid restrictions.

A special analysis of the latest  official statistics found that the total number of  16–24-year-olds in work has fallen much faster than jobs for older people, accounting for more than half (59%) of the total fall in jobs in the past year Continue reading “Lack of jobs for young people  “scandalous”, says Yeovil Labour Party”

Election 21: Is it ‘Hugs and Kisses’ or a ‘Jab in the Jacksy’? You Decide!

Monday, 10 May 2021
Looking across the horizon beyond the hidden hive of horribleness

A week before we could all hug each other again, 3 months into a successful vaccination programme and 1 day after British gunboats successfully chased off the French Armada of fishing communists besieging our beloved tax haven of Jersey we had the first elections since 2019 when Boris Johnson ‘Got Brexit Done’ and  the evil Jeremy Corbyn with his ‘moral principles’ had been seen off. Was it a big surprise that the BBC, I mean, the Tories had such a good result? Despite being inept to the extreme in the early stages of the pandemic, not attending key meetings, urging people to shake hands with Covid victims and then catching it himself then only 3 months later re-opening the country too soon with his ‘eat out to help spread the virus’ campaign, then locking down too late when the virus re-emerged in the autumn, Boris Johnson was nevertheless the Nations saviour for being there when the  vaccine light at the end of the tunnel showed a way out of this life blocking shit show. Never mind bodies piling high, never mind over budget redecorations at Downing street and never mind Brexit turning out, well, like most people predicted it would. The Tories won the local English elections and the one Parliamentary by election but, although you might not notice it in the media, didn’t win in Wales-Labour did, didn’t win in Scotland -the SNP & the case for Independence did and didn’t even win the majority of Mayors-Labour did. Labour Leader Keir Starmer, looking a bit like a rabbit caught in a media trap headlights on the Friday night after Hartlepool, didn’t wait until the better news of the next couple of days, but jumped to attention to take the blame. Then transfer it to Angela Rayner, then block the Sunday good news of Labour gains with a botched focus on a cosmetic Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. So what do we make of all this? Let’s find out……

Continue reading “Election 21: Is it ‘Hugs and Kisses’ or a ‘Jab in the Jacksy’? You Decide!”

Somerset Votes – a round up of the elections of May 6th 2021

Saturday, 8 May 2021
Jolly Voting Weather

In Somerset we were meant to have a County Council election. However, these were cancelled as the battle for which ‘unitary’ outcome hots up and sitting county councillors are granted an extra year while people think about it. Not a very democratic solution to say the least. However, apart from the Police and Crime Commission election, which everyone had a ballot for but only 30% of us chose to use, there were a string of other elections across the county -largely reflecting the National trend of Tory wins. But here are some of them and their consequences.

Continue reading “Somerset Votes – a round up of the elections of May 6th 2021”

Labour Loses Out in ‘PPC’ Play Offs

Saturday, 8 May 2021
Pals of Pritti Patel take back control

It came down to a penalty shoot out between Labour and Conservative in the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the Tory just about grabbed it on the 2nd preference votes. Five candidates contested the election and votes were counted by district and then all added together to get a single result for the whole Avon and Somerset region. After the first round the top 2 contenders faced each other in a final and the 2nd preference votes of the losing 3 parties were redistributed in this classic example of SV (Supplementary vote)  Proportional representation. In round 1 the Tories came top with 136,988 votes and Labour second with  93,495. That meant the 164,008 people who hadn’t chosen either of the winners could have a second crack at it. In the second round Labour picked up a further 52,790 votes but the Tories gained another 24,331 keeping them at the top and their candidate Mark Shelford winning the election.

Continue reading “Labour Loses Out in ‘PPC’ Play Offs”

No elections in Somerset?? OH YES THERE ARE!

Wednesday, 5 May 2021
Vote Kerry Barker on May 6th

Whilst the people of Somerset might have missed out on the chance to have their say on Somerset County Council and it’s Unitary machinations on Thursday May 6th there are nevertheless some crucial elections happening across our county -not least the key role of Police and Crime Commissioner, where Labour’s candidate KERRY BARKER is in prime position to grab the post. Kerry put Labour in 2nd place in 2016 and narrowly lost a run off contest with outgoing independent Sue Mountstevens-who isn’t standing this time. Kerry needs to see off a challenge from the Tories to grab the victory and this means he needs ALL the Labour and tactical votes in Somerset he can get to add to the extremely large Labour vote coming in from Bristol, where they’re also voting for councillors and Mayor. So your vote really matters!


Continue reading “No elections in Somerset?? OH YES THERE ARE!”

Don’t cut police stations in Chard and Yeovil, says Kerry Barker.

Thursday, 22 April 2021
Labour’s PCC candidate Kerry Barker

Kerry Barker. Labour Party candidate for Avon and Somerset Police and Crime commissioner, calls for a new focus on community-based policing, with teams of officers based  locally. Mr Barkers said, “ if elected, I would put an immediate halt to the downgrading of locally based policing facilities. I would retain Chard Police station, which is currently scheduled for closure . I am also committed to keeping the custody suite in Yeovil Police station. The loss of local cells would mean officers having to drive people that they arrest as far away as Bristol, which would be a massive waste of police time. Many people have told me that they are fed up with the police failing to deal with local crime – so much so that they  no longer bother to  report some crimes. They want a return to visible policing delivering on the issues that worry their communities.

Continue reading “Don’t cut police stations in Chard and Yeovil, says Kerry Barker.”