Sunday, 22 May 2011


The Sedgemoor Labour Group at Annual Council
Sedgemoor District Council has held it's first meeting since the Tory majority was reduced at the recent Elections and the newly strengthened Labour group has made it clear that it has a strong mandate  to speak for  the people of Bridgwater and the ruling group needs to recognise this.

As Tory leader Duncan McGinty announced his , exclusively rural, Portfolio team, Cllr Mick Lerry (Labour Bridgwater Victoria) stood to request that this new reality be reflected in the composition of the Sedgemoor Executive committee saying "The leader is not being inclusive and there should now be a review of the Governance of SDC. There is a clear need for a challenge within the Executive as there are only Conservative councillors on it and also not one Bridgwater Councillor, which makes up over one third of the residents of sedgemoor, has been chosen. !"

The Tory and Labour teams revealed.
Leader DUNCAN McGINTY (East Polden) .......Shadow KATHY PEARCE (Bridgwater Westover)
Dep Leader DAWN HILL (Cheddar ).................Shadow JULIAN TAYLOR (Bridgwater Eastover)
Environment RICHARD BURDEN (Wedmore) Shadow REG WINSLOW (Bridgwater Fairfax)
Community JOHN SWAYNE (Petherton).... Shadow IAN TUCKER (Bridgwater Dunwear)
Corporate ANN BOWN (Wembdon) ................Shadow LEIGH REDMAN (Bridgwater Dunwear)
Planning STUART KINGHAM (West Polden) ......Shadow GRAHAM GRANTER (Bridgwater Fairfax)
Economic ANN FRASER (Petherton) ..........Shadow ADRIAN MOORE (Bridgwater Hamp)
Housing ANDREW GILLING (Knoll)......... Shadow MICK LERRY (Bridgwater Victoria)

To step up the pressure on the Tory Executive the Labour group will chair the 2 Scrutiny committees which can  'Call in' their decisions for closer scrutiny in the style of parliamentary select committees. The new chairmen are  Cllr JULIAN TAYLOR (Community) and Cllr BRIAN SMEDLEY (Corporate) -the latters appointment being greeted with an audible 'Good Heavens!" from McGinty.

The Labour group, now 13 strong (and taking up 3 rows of council seats!) are joined on the vague left by 2 rival Liberal factions following the massive bloodletting in Highbridge. Elder Statesmen-Chris Williams and Mike Mansfield , have formed an 'Independents group' and sit on a small table  some distance from the 'official' Liberal Democrats -Joe Leach and His  group (that's a lady called Kate Lawson) -who share the end of a table with some Tory backbenchers) . Williams pointed out that the Tories have also "..totally ignored Burnham & Highbridge in their Executive  too  which now means 75% of Sedgemoor residents aren't represented on it".

The first challenge of the new Tory council will be their ability or indeed willingness to proceed with the Tescos development and the sale of Northgate - a decision now imminent and in the hands of corporate director Doug Bamsey.

Monday, 9 May 2011


Kathy Pearce- re-elected Group Leader
The newly elected 13 strong Sedgemoor District Labour Group met today to assess the post election situation on the Council which sees the Tory majority slashed from 24 to 14.

Whilst the group is still not strong enough to achieve a controlling influence on the Council it remains the main opposition Group and will therefore nominate Leader of opposition, Shadow portfolio holders and increase it's representation on committees.

The Liberal Democrats, whose number fell to 2 , are  now considering operating as a stand alone group or attempting to make an arrangement with the 2 Liberal Independents  who may form a seperate 2 man group or combine to form a mighty liberal bloc of 4.

Mick Lerry -newly elected Chairman
 The Labour group elected KATHY PEARCE as Group Leader with JULIAN TAYLOR as deputy.
MIKE LERRY was elected Chairman of the group with BRIAN SMEDLEY as secretary ALEC GLASSFORD as treasurer and STEVE AUSTEN as group Whip.

Shadow portfolios and committee places were elected and allocated and will be announced at Annual Council on May 18th.

Bridgwater Town Labour Group has re-elected JOHN TURNER as Chairman .

Friday, 6 May 2011


Although the Tories still remain in control of Sedgemoor District Council their majority has been cut from 24 to 14 as Labour make 3 gains from Tory in Bridgwater and Independents take 2 seats in Highbridge. Lib Dems hold onto 2 seats in Highbridge and Burnham South but are routed everywhere else.

Labour took the Bridgwater seats of Hamp ,Victoria, Westover, Eastover, Dunwear and Fairfax kicking out 4 sitting Tory councillors in the process and leaving them with only 2 in their west Bridgwater Wyndham hideaway.  However, failed to make the breakthrough in Highbridge, Puriton/Woolavington and North Petherton needed to gain control.

The LibDems bitter fight with former liberals in Highbridge saw them split the seats with just Joe Leach surviving their but ex liberals Mansfield & Williams making gains. The Lib Dems also held their  solitarity Burnham South/Central seats.

Big Tory names ousted include David Preece, Mike Cresswell,David Hall and Barry Crow - all Bridgwater Tories who voted to demolish the Splash, plus Paul Herbert, former Sedgemoor Housing Executive member.

On Bridgwater Town Council Labour took 14 out of the 16 seats, kicking out 4 Tories and strenghtening control.

 old council (50 Cllrs)  Conservative – 37  Labour – 10    Lib Dem 3 –                                                                                                                                                              
  new council(48 cllrs)Conservative – 31 Labour – 13  Lib Dem – 2  Ind – 2

Elected members are:-

Axevale                                          DENBEE                            John Henry                              Con*
Axevale                                          SCOTT                               Liz                                            Con*
Berrow                                           GRIMES                             Tony                                        Con*
Bridgwater Dunwear                      REDMAN                           Leigh Paul                                Lab
Bridgwater Dunwear                      TUCKER                            Ian Charles                                     Lab
Bridgwater Eastover                      LOVERIDGE                      David Peter                             Lab
Bridgwater Eastover                      TAYLOR                             Julian                                              Lab
Bridgwater Fairfax                         GLASSFORD                    Alex                                         Lab
Bridgwater Fairfax                         GRANTER                         Graham John                          Lab
Bridgwater Fairfax                         WINSLOW                         Reg                                          Lab
Bridgwater Hamp                           AUSTEN                            Steve                                       Lab
Bridgwater Hamp                           MOORE                             Adrian John                                    Lab
Bridgwater Victoria                        LERRY                               Mick                                         Lab
Bridgwater Victoria                        RICHARDS                        Ken                                          Lab
Bridgwater Westover                     PEARCE                            Kathy                                       Lab*
Bridgwater Westover                     SMEDLEY                          Brian David                                     Lab*
Bridgwater Wyndham                    BAKER                               David Lionel                             Con*
Bridgwater Wyndham                    SLOCOMBE                      Gill                                                  Con*
Burnham Central                           CLARKE                             Michael                                    Con
Burnham Central                           DAVEY                               Dennis                                     Con*
Burnham Central                           LAWSON                           Kate                                         LD
Burnham North                              BURRIDGE-CLAYTON     Peter Laurence                        Con*
Burnham North                              JONES                               Neville                                      Con*
Burnham North                              SMOUT                              Ken                                                 Con
Cannington & Wembdon               BOWN                                Ann Elizabeth                          Con*
Cannington & Wembdon               DYER                                 Ian                                            Con
Cheddar & Shipham                      DOWNING                         Peter John Shilton                   Con*
Cheddar & Shipham                      HILL                                    Dawn Mary                              Con*
Cheddar & Shipham                      SAVAGE                            Jeffrey Ernest                         Con*
East Poldens                                  McGINTY                           Duncan                                    Con*
Highbridge & Burnham Marine      LEACH                               Joe                                           LD*
Highbridge & Burnham Marine      MANSFIELD                      Mike                                         Ind
Highbridge & Burnham Marine      WILLIAMS                          Chris                                        Ind
Huntspill & Pawlett                         MORETON                        Jane Charlotte                         Con*
Kings Isle                                        ALDER                               Derek Stanley                         Con*
Kings Isle                                        TURNER                            Nobby Turner                                 Con*
Knoll                                               FILMER                              Bob                                          Con*
Knoll                                               GILLING                             Andrew                                    Con*
North Petherton                             BRADFORD                      Alan Sydney Ernest                Con*
North Petherton                             FRASER                            Anne Elizabeth                        Con*
North Petherton                             SWAYNE                           John Hardy                                     Con*
Puriton & Woolavington                 HAMLIN                             Alison June                              Con*
Puriton & Woolavington                 HEALEY                             Mark                                        Con*
Quantocks                                     CASWELL                          Michael Graham                     Con
Quantocks                                     PAY                                    Julie Annette                            Con
Wedmore & Mark                          BAYLISS                            Diana                                       Con*
Wedmore & Mark                          BURDEN                            Richard                                    Con*
West Poldens                                 KINGHAM                          Stuart Arthur                                   Con

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


In the summer of 2009, Sedgemoor's Tories voted to close  the Sedgemoor Splash Swimming Pool. The people of Bridgwater protested. They had not even been consulted.

The Labour Group opposed the closure but were massively outvoted by the Conservatives. Sedgemoor District Council is dominated by a ruling group  of 37 Conservatives to 10 Labour and 3 Lib Dems. 6 of the Tories came from Bridgwater - yet they still voted for closure. Bridgwater was trapped in the grip of a Tory dictatorship and was not master of it's own destiny.

Campaigners marched in protest, they raised petitions with 1,000's of names and the Labour group put motions to council to challenge the unfairness. Everything fell on deaf Tory ears.


In desperation in August 2009, a group of Splash supporters occupied the swimming pool in an effort to stop Sedgemoor closing it down. The occupation lasted 21 hours before Sedgemoor brought the force of the law down on the people with the threat of court action and injunctions .


The people of Bridgwater , supported by Labour councillors tried everything to  prevent the building being demolished  and lost forever. Everything met a wall of uniform silence from Tory councillors. In November 2009 the pool was demolished and raised to the ground.

The land at Northgate was offered to a variety of potential developers. We were told there were 3. There turned out to be just 1 - a giant 'Tesco Extra' supermarket.

No more supermarkets!

The people of Bridgwater said they had enough supermarkets and didn't need any more. Labour councillors attempted to prevent the loss of the public open space at the Brewery Field  - the Tories voted solidly to plough ahead with a 60,000 square feet monstrosity that could destroy the town centre and set back regeneration indefinitely.

Public meeting

A public meeting in the Town hall of 200 local people voted unanimously (bar one Tory candidate) that they didn't want a Tesco's. The Tories simply ignored it.

The Conservatives control Sedgemoor by a massive majority. They simply ignore the wishes of the people of Bridgwater. They can do this because of that majority. Only the people's vote can change that

deceitful liberals

Nationally the Conservatives are now in Government - propped up by the deceitful Liberal Democrats whose voters never dreamt that their support would land them with a Tory Prime Minister. The Tories and LibDems together have embarked upon a massive  CUTS agenda which looks set to roll back the welfare state, devastate the NHS and undermine the universal  Education system.

On THURSDAY MAY 5TH people have a chance to reject this.






YouGov Poll May4th
The Local Government Elections being held on Thursday 5th May will be the first chance the people have to  give their opinion on the Conservative LibDem 'coalition'. A YouGov poll shows Labour up to 42% and a Government popularity rating on -24%, it's lowest yet. When all the polls are added together the average shows Labour on 40% Tories on 36% and the Lib Dems oin 12%. Clearly people want to punish the Tories for their programme of over zealous cuts and the Lib Dems for their broken promises, but how will this translate to the Local Elections here in Sedgemoor?

Brian Smedley LABOUR Westover
Both Tories and LibDems are clearly worried because, apart from the National swing against them , local factors are also taking their toll. Brian Smedley, Labour candidate for the crucial town centre seat of Westover says "Bridgwater Tories are facing a massive wave of unpopularity for their connivance in the demolition of the Sedgemoor Splash swimming pool and the unpopular decision by Sedgemoor Tories to replace it with a massive Tescos superstore. Tories are themselves predicting at least 10 losses. " Brian is standing alongside Labour group leader Kathy Pearce for District in Westover and along side Steve Austen & Pat Parker for town.

Lib Dems NOT winning here
The LibDems, as always, are full of hype and the usual superficial gloss that typifies their campaigns. A major poster campaign in the marginal swing ward of Highbridge has provoked a local backlash which has now seen local libDem leader Joe Leach fighting for his political life and complaining to the news papers about the unfairness of people pulling down LibDem posters. Meanwhile, the reality in Highbridge is that the LibDems are engaged in a massive internal fight with older established liberals standing directly against the new coalition LibDems with the only possible result being a split vote. Labour candidate Ricky Hopkins says "Highbridge is a marginal seat but traditionally it's been Labour. We've been out and canvassed every house and people are sick to death of the libdems and their broken promises. The most common response we get is 'how on earth did they get elected in the first place!?"

Adrian Moore Hamp Labour
In Bridgwater's Hamp ward , popular councillor John Turner is standing down as District councillor and just fighting for the Town Council - where Labour currently has control and of which he is the  leader. Hamp residents Steve Austen and Adrian Moore are standing for Labour for Hamp district  whilst Adrian is standing with John for the Town seats. Adrian says "There has been some confusion here because the opposition is a bit confused itself. LibDem candidate Steve Gill was elected as a Tory and then changed his colours to Liberal , then said he wasn't going to stand again, and then did. So no one really knows where they stand there. And the Tory candidate -Christine McGinty , hasn't mentioned that she is a Tory on her nomination form . Actually, she's the wife of  Tory leader Duncan McGinty. I'm sure people won't be confused on the day  - just vote Labour!" 

Jim Munn LABOUR Wyndham
In the west Bridgwater ward of Wyndham Tory posters abound as you'd expect - however, if you look closer you'll see that several of the light blue and white placards are in fact for independent tory Bob Cudlipp whilst the others are for Tory grandees Slocombe and Baker . Labour candidate Jim Munn says "Cudlipp looks like he could split the tory vote here , and it would be a sensational turnaround if Labour came through the middle and won" Jim's father, Bill Munn won the seat from the Tories for Labour in 1995 in one of  the towns biggest political upsets in recent years. Jim is standing for Labour in Wyndham along with Adrian Downes West Bridgwater resident  and fellow town councillor. 

The Polls show that if the National swing to Labour is reflected in Sedgemoor alongside local factors, Labour could gain up to 15 seats and take control of the Council for the first time in it's history.

Polling stations open at 7pm on Thursday 5th of May and close at 10pm but the results won't be known until the afternoon of Friday.  Shaun O Byrne, Labour's election agent and candidate in the Quantocks ward, says "The count will be held at Bridgwater Town hall from 0930 on Friday morning. They'll count in a specific order starting with some of the smaller rural seats so by 10am we should know if we've taken McGinty's East Polden seat and the Tory marginal at Berrow and then between 10 and 11 the first Bridgwater results will come in with Hamp and Dunwear. After that the rest of the Bridgwater seats. However, we'll have to wait till almost the end of the count to see if we've taken the marginal seats of Highbridge, Noreth Petherton and crucially Woolavington & Puriton. "

Friday afternoon will see the count for Bridgwater Town Council, which Labour currently holds 10-6 against the Tories and that result should be clear by 4pm after which the staff will start on counting the AV Referendum ballots...