The Labour Party will be launching their campaign this week to hold their Bridgwater citadel where they run the Town Council by 14 seats to 2 and to make advances into Sedgemoor District Council where they are the main opposition and which they aim to take from the Tories. All parties have declared their candidates with the Tories fielding 47 across Sedgemoor, Labour standing 34 and fighting in every ward, the Lib dems putting up 33 ( a bit ambitious considering they currently just have 1) and the Greens putting up 1. The big surprise, considering the fevered Brexit agenda at the moment is that UKIp have stood just one candidate while elsewhere 5 candidates are standing without labels, most of who seem to have fallen out with their previous party.
Sedgemoor has been regarded as a safe Tory district since it was created in 1974 but in 1995 the Conservatives collapsed and the council fell to NOC (no overall control) allowing Labour and Libdems to breifly wrest control from them. “Sadly this wasn’t sustainable as the Lib Dems never voted the same way twice” Remembers current Bridgwater Town Council Labour Leader Brian Smedley, who was there at the time “Liberals never were very good at coalitions……”
Labour activists have been out long in advance of this weeks launch and Constituency Chairman Gary Tucker who will be standing in the Puriton and Woolavington ward for District said “We’ve already made a flying start on the campaign with members out leafletting and posters popping up everywhere. My leafleting team in Woolavington have said they are already encountering Tory voters who are now switching to Labour. “
Bridgwater’s popular young Mayor Diogo Rodrigues is standing for the District Council in his Dunwear seat alongside new candidate, teacher Alexia Bartlett. Announcing his candidature today his posts were met with excitement and support. Diogo summed up the mood in the Labour camp “The ruling group at Sedgemoor Distrcit Council has failed us. They have sat idly whilst locals are priced out of their towns, more willing to hand out a half a million pound bailout to big business rather than investing in a housing strategy which delivers for the people. One which has failed to deal with the causes of crime in our towns, stood by whilst youth services close, carers support diminish and town centres fall behind. They and their Tory partners in County hall have failed our schools, parents and young people, failed the elderly in need of care, closed down libraries and been the architects of the largest traffic headache Bridgwater has ever seen. We need a people powered council which puts the interests of the residents first. I am proud to be part of a Labour team that will deliver that and will bring some much needed change to Sedgemoor. A team that will Invest in small local businesses to bring our high streets to life and which is fit for the 21st century , Deliver a housing strategy which provides truly affordable homes for our people, Invest in our young people to give them the skills and opportunities they need,Work with the local police to ensure our communities are safe and secure, Look after our environment and ensure our green spaces are protected”
Labour is fielding an equal number of male and female candidates in wards across the District, many standing for the first time but bringing a wealth of experience and new ideas to the table. Student Gemma Shanahan is standing in Cannington & Wembdon while retired teacher Maggy Layton is fighting an energetic campaign in the nearby Quantocks. Even the top tories are not safe as Labour is often taking them on single handedly in what they might consider their safe seats, County Transport doyen john Woodman faces care worker Liam Tucker in Huntspill while District Leader McGinty is being faced down by bus driver Stephen Oxbrow.
The most marginal ward in Sedgemoor is Highbridge & Burnham Marine. Labour are fighting hard to regain this 3 member ward which has changed control at every election. A historically strong Labour ward it swung to the lib dems then to independents then to the tories and then even had a UKIP member. This time not only aren’t UKIP bothering to stand, the tories are fighting amongst themselves with husband and wife ‘team’ Jane and Roger Keen on opposite sides of the election.
With cuts to the library service and the general atmosphere of Tory-LibDem austerity badly hitting places like Highbridge, Labours team of John Fones, Joji Mathew and Sue Park will be fighting to take back the ward. Social worker Sue says ““Highbridge is a good place and a friendly place with a lot going for it but it needs a lot doing for it and often gets left behind by Burnham. We’ve lost our library, waiting times at the Doctors are increasing and Police numbers are dropping. I am appalled at the situation this government has brought about from Universal Credit to the Bedroom tax and see the results daily in my work. I want to see safer streets, more community resources and better facilities. To achieve this we have to get this government out and Labour in.”
To find a full list of District candidates click here
To read Labour’s manifesto for Sedgemoor click here
For news updates go to www.somersetlabour.co.uk
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