Saturday, 11 January 2014

Tackling the Cost of Living in the Countryside

Labour has unveiled policies  to tackle the cost of living in the countryside.The Party’s candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Mick Lerry, says rural communities are suffering badly – with incomes falling while prices spiral upwards.

Mick said: “Wages in rural areas have fallen in real terms by £1,300 between 2010 and 2012 . And  rural households have to spend  £2,700 more on everyday goods, compared to those in urban areas. 
The Government has failed to tackle the rising cost of household energy, water and transport . And it has failed to  build new affordable homes, protect rural bus services or keep the roll out of broadband on track. .”
The next Labour government will  tackle the rural cost of living crisis in our rural communities by:
·         Bringing off grid energy such as oil under the control of the new energy regulator that we will set up in 2015.
·         Delivering earlier Winter Fuel Payments to those pensioners who are using off grid energy.
·         Cutting and freezing business rates for small and medium sized businesses, on premises  with a rateable value under £50,000.
·         Abolishing the bedroom tax which has an even greater effect of displacing families and disrupting communities in rural areas.
·         Transferring £75 million from the Government’s ‘super-connected cities’ programme into a digital inclusion fund, so that businesses and people in rural communities can learn how to make the internet work for them.
Mick Lerry said “ The Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency includes  many rural communities – some of them among the most remote in England. People living in our villages have been let down by the Tory-led coalition government.  Labour would reverse the policies that have left so many people struggling to make ends meet.”

Cllr Mick Lerry

Leader of the Labour Group on SDC

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset


mobile: 07775 905080

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Department for Work and Pensions admit that some tenants are exempt from the Bedroom Tax

Mick Lerry joins anti bedroom tax protestors as they present
their 1,000 name petition to Sedgemoor
Welfare rights workers have discovered a legal loophole that could mean thousands of people are exempt from the hated bedroom tax and the Department for Work and Pensions have sent out a recent Bulletin informing Councils of the loophole.

Bridgwater Parliamentary Candidate Mick Lerry says "Labour is urging district councils in Somerset to make sure people here are not being wrongly charged. Tenants who have lived in the same house or flat since January 1996 – and have claimed Housing Benefit throughout that time – are the ones who could benefit.The reasons are complicated. They have to do with the rules that govern the “eligible rent” for social housing. "

 Wrongly Charging people

Some councils are already admitting that they have been wrongly charging people since April 2013. In the South-West, Exeter City Council has begun sending letters to tenants it believes should be exempt.  

 The numbers involved are not huge - Exeter estimates the exemption will only help 4 per cent of tenants. But for those people, not having to pay this unfair tax will be a significant help.

 Mick Lerry, who is also the Leader of the Labour Group on SDC  said: “We have argued all along that the bedroom tax is an unjust attack on people with low incomes. It is very good news that a minority of tenants seem to have legal protection".

Mick also said: "On the 8th January Sedgemoor District Council debated a petition regarding the Bedroom Tax and I have also asked a revenue Officer as to how the council will respond to the recent announcement from the Department of Work and Pensions, to repay those tenants who are exempt from the Bedroom Tax".

I hope that West Somerset and other district councils across Somerset will follow the example of Exeter in examining how many tenants should be exempt and making sure they get their money back.”

(The Bedroom Tax is a reduction in Housing Benefit, which affects people who the government says have “spare” bedrooms in their homes. Social housing tenants lose 14 per cent of their Housing Benefit if they have one extra room; 25 per cent of they have two or more. Although the Bedroom Tax is a central government policy, it is administered by district councils)


Cllr Mick Lerry


Leader of the Labour Group on SDC

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset



mobile; 07775905080



Wednesday, 8 January 2014


Protestors brave the weather to fight the Bedrrom Tax
A petition of 1106 names organised by the Bridgwater People's Assembly was presented to Sedgemoor District Council today calling on the council to urge the Government to repeal the Bedroom Tax, build new council houses and not to evict tenants because of the tax.

Petition organiser Gwyn Holland spoke at the meeting mentioning the example of a disabled friend who was caught in the trap of an unworkable and punitive policy whilst housing solutions weren't actually available. Describing the bedroom tax as 'iniquitous'  and 'targeting those on lower incomes while the Government introduces tax cuts for the rich' he further stated the tax 'penalises tenants for a housing shortage which is the responsibility of politicians'.

Labour Leader Mick Lerry (Bridgwater Victoria)  spoke in support of the petition and whilst noting that Labour would repeal the bedroom tax  if it wins the next election, pointed out that mitigating actions need to be taken now. A previous Labour motion to council and actions agreed through the Labour chaired Scrutiny committees had gone some way to establishing these measures. The motion was seconded by Cllr Leigh Redman (Bridgwater Dunwear) and supported by the Lib Dem and Independent groups.

The response from Cllr Duncan McGinty, Conservative leader, was broadly supportive of the need to help the victims of the tax and confirmed that SDC would not be pursuing evictions. He counter-proposed however that the petition should be reviewed at the relevant scrutiny committee and that the Council lobby against the tax via the Local Government Association.

The Council voted on McGinty's proposal first which was carried by an overwhelming vote of all the Tories present whilst Labour, Lib Dem and Independents voted against in the hope that the petition as originally worded could be supported.  The Tory majority won through and there was no chance to therefore vote on the original petition.

After the meeting Cllr Brian Smedley (Chair of Corporate Scrutiny) said "This will give people a chance to have a full and open debate about the Bedroom tax at a special dedicated Scrutiny meeting and to recommend how we can best achieve the aims of the petition. When that meeting is set up I would invite anyone who can contribute to the debate to register to participate and turn up with concrete examples and solutions. Clearly we shouldn't be taxing bedrooms but building new ones."

Monday, 6 January 2014

Sedgemoor Labour Leader urges MP to challenge Government Flood Failings

Recent flooding in the centre of Bridgwater
The Guardian reported on 30th September 2013 that: "Owen Paterson told a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference.... that predictions by scientists – that there could be major increases in temperature resulting in melting ice caps and worldwide flooding – should not be seen as entirely negative".

On the 5th January the same paper reported that: "Sir David King, the government's special envoy on climate change, has said: Britain needs to face up to a radical change in weather conditions that could be the result of global warming, and spend much more on flood defences. Amid the worst floods for decades, King said the UK must do more to manage the problem, potentially doubling spending to £1bn a year by 2020, as extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent".

Cllr Mick Lerry, Labour
PPC Bridgwater & West Som
Yet once again with heavy rainfall and adverse tides the Somerset Moors are flooded. Houses have had to be evacuated. A flood summit was held in Somerset in 2013 attended by Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Tessa Munt MP and Jeremy Browne MP and there were promises from government and the Environment Agency that remedies would be put in place. Government has refused to fund the necessary work to avoid flooding and recently the Environment Agency announced that 1500 members of their staff would be made redundant.

Ian Liddell Grainger MP should be highlighting the failure of the Government to act in to reduce the risk of flooding for local people, as the last Labour Government did for the people of Gloucestershire.

Cllr Mick Lerry


Leader of the Labour Group on Sedgemoor District Council


Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset Constituency





mobile: 07775905080

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Labour Shadow Department for Energy and Climate Change visit Hinkley C site and Bridgwater College.

Caroline Flint MP, Cllr Mick Lerry-Bridgwater PPC,
Tom Greatrex MP,  Claire Moody-Labour SW Euro Candidate,
Neil Guild-Taunton PPC
Caroline Flint MP and Tom Greatrex MP visited Hinkley C and the Energy and Skills Centre at Bridgwater College, on Tuesday 17th December. The aim of the visit was a fact finding tour, to establish the full impact of the Energy infrastructure project. The team were impressed with the developments at Bridgwater College and how local people could obtain training and skills to move into the Energy industry.

Mick discusses the issues with Tom Greatrex MP
Mick Lerry, leader of Sedgemoor Labour group and PPC for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said: "Members of the Labour Group were able to discuss the implications of the construction stage of Hinkley C and how it was important to avoid "boom and bust". We were able to explain the importance of Community Benefit during the construction stage of the power station. Highlighting the fact that Bridgwater and surrounding area should be recognised as an Enterprise or Business Zone, able to retain all the business rates to invest back into the local economy".

Both MPs were interested in the proposals put forward by the Labour Group and another meeting will be scheduled in early 2014 to discuss the matter further.

 Cllr. Mick Lerry
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset.

Leader of the Labour Group on SDC.

Mobile 07775 905080

Monday, 16 December 2013


Labour Leader Ed Miliband and Bridgwater PPC
Mick Lerry call for new homes.
Mick Lerry, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Bridgwater & West Somerset, has called on the Government to take action to make home ownership a realistic aspiration for working people and rents more affordable by building much needed homes.

According to independent experts, under the current Government we are building less than half the homes a year we need to meet demand. The gap between the number of homes we build each year and what we need is unprecedented at over 100,000 each year.

A housing shortage, combined with the cost of living crisis – with falling wages and rising bills – is making rents increasingly expensive and putting home homeownership out of reach for millions of working people.

Back in 1997 it took an average family just three years to save for a proper deposit on a home but today it takes 22 years. Private sector rents are now at the highest level ever recorded.

One Nation Labour has plans to increase the supply of new homes in England above 200,000 a year by the end of the next Parliament. To ensure plans are in place on day one of a Labour Government, Ed Miliband today, Monday 16th December 2013, launched a Housing Commission chaired by Sir Michael Lyons has been launched to draw up a road map for delivering this ambition.

Mick Lerry, said:

“The security of knowing you can afford to live in your home is the cornerstone of a strong society. It’s a basic aspiration that working people want for themselves and their children – one that should be open to everyone.

“Many people in Bridgwater and West Somerset are facing a cost of living crisis and are struggling with housing costs. By getting Britain building again a Labour Government will help tackle ever-spiralling private rents and will make home ownership an achievable dream once more for those that are currently priced out.”

 Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“David Cameron is presiding over the lowest levels of homes built in peacetime since the 1920s and already families are suffering from some of the worst housing shortages for a generation. This is now part of a cost-of-living crisis for millions of people for whom the dream of home ownership is fading into the distance.

“At this time of year, when family is so important, there are parents who fear their children will never get a place of their own. And there are millions of young people who fear they may never be able to get on the housing ladder; never able to invite their parents round for Christmas dinner.  

 “If families are to prosper and our country is to succeed, Britain needs new homes.”

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Bridgwater PPC Mick Lerry
"Labour will deliver fairer
prices "
Many households will be going into debt this winter because of the increasing cost of energy. Even where energy companies have reduced the price, because of the withdrawal of the Green levy, the increase in energy is still above inflation. Many people in rural areas have limited options for fuel, many of which lack mains gas. The Green levy helps to make efficient use of fuel, which is particularly important for countryside communities and residents on low incomes.

At the same time a committee of MPs has accused ministers of "shifting the goalposts" to reduce the number of households in England classed as in fuel poverty. The definition of fuel poverty would be changed by amendments to the Energy Bill so that 2.4 million were classed as fuel poor rather than 3.2 million.

Labour candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset , Mick Lerry said: "The government plans to reduce energy bills by an average of £50 a year in an effort to offset rising costs, is not enough. Labour’s energy price freeze is needed. Labour's price freeze would save money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses and our plans to reset the market will deliver fairer prices in the future”.

"Ian Liddell-Grainger MP needs to represent the community by asking the Government to sort out the Energy market to protect people from fuel and financial poverty."

Cllr Mick Lerry, Leader of the Labour Group on SDC and Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset.


Tel: 07775 905080