On May 4th Taunton will finally elect a town council after years of being without one and it’s Labours best chance for a generation to extend its reach in local Government in Somerset. In nearby Bridgwater Labour has been the majority party on the Town Council for many years and keeps getting re-elected with popular support. Bridgwater Town Council Leader Brian Smedley (Labour) says “Out of 16 councillors in Bridgwater there’s only 3 Tories left and not a single Lib Dem in sight. The Greens don’t stand against us because we’re green enough for them and there’s no independents who are usually only accountable to themselves anyway. The people of Taunton have a unique chance to vote with their heart and brain and return a Labour council there. The Tories have wrecked the country and weren’t even trusted to run the new Unitary County they’d created and with no Tory threat at this local level there’s literally no need to think you have to vote Lib Dem to keep them out. The field is open and now’s the time for Labour in Taunton, so I’d urge the people there to grab this opportunity to vote for real change.”
Who is best placed to explain the challenge ahead for Labour in the County Town? None other than former LibDem councillor Martin Peters, who recently switched to Labour. Martin, who served on the shadow Town Council for the past year, believes people should vote Labour this time and explains why.
Martin says “As a former Liberal Democrat Councillor I know the Taunton Lib Dems have a formidable campaigning machine. However, despite all the leaflets and door knocking, other progressive candidates are just as capable of managing green spaces and promoting Taunton. They love Taunton and care about the environment. The Labour Party has many excellent candidates, including Neil Guild in Comeytrowe (senior civil engineer and former army officer), Penny James (former Chief Executive of Taunton Deane Borough Council) , Libby Lisgo and Brenda Weston (former SWT councillors). There is no danger of the Conservatives controlling Taunton Town Council and therefore no need to tactically vote Liberal Democrat to stop the Conservatives. Once in the ascendancy the Liberal Democrats gain locally from the unfair First Past the Post electoral system (though they lose out nationally). The Lib Dems already control Somerset Council, and it won’t be good for the party to have clear majorities in all the tiers of local government. After all they won’t always be plural, liberal and democratic. Taunton Town Council shouldn’t ever be a rubber stamp for Somerset Council decisions. We need to elect a council that will always stand up for the interests of Taunton. “
Vote Labour Across the Board
There are 20 seats up for election across Taunton Town and the range of candidates vary from sitting Lib Dem councillors, some in Executive positions on the new Somerset unitary to experienced local community activists in the Labour Party. One surprise intervention comes from renegade Labour defector Diogo Rodrigues who joined the Tories after the 2019 election and is now a Conservative Unitary councillor for Bridgwater. Rodrigues, who was kicked off Bridgwater Town Council by voters angry at his rosette swapping seems to be now ‘having a go’ at a Taunton seat. This isn’t of course illegal as he owns businesses in Taunton. But some might find it surprising, especially those in Bridgwater who assumed that town was his priority.
Help make the change Taunton needs – vote Labour on Thursday, 4th May
Labour’s manifesto for Taunton can be found here.
Polls will be open on Thursday May 4th from 7am until 10pm and for the first time Photo ID will be required for people planning to vote in person at polling stations.
Acceptable forms of ID include a driving licence, passport or concessionary bus pass, as well as the Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) issued to those without other forms of ID. The full list of acceptable ID can be found here: electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID. The deadline to apply for a VAC has passed. Details of the locations are included on poll cards and the Notice of Poll on Somerset Council’s website.