Thursday, 29 November 2012


Jane Champion wins in Rotherham
Tonights by elections have seen the collapse of the Liberal Democrats. Coming 8th in the Rotherham By election, 4th in North Croydon and beaten into 3rd place by UKIP  in Middlesborough shows that the disastrous decision of Nick Clegg to enter a coalition as junior partners to the Tories and breaking all their promises on the way has left them high and dry as a party losing members, voters and any actual purpose.

The dangerous result of the Lib Dem collapse has meant an increasingly dissilusioned electorate turning to emotive right wing fringe parties such as UKIP and 'better the Devil you don't know' independents as was seen in recent Police Commissioner elections. The latter-totally unaccountable, unrepresentative and loose cannons are often a facade for anti-Labour fronts as has happened in the Bristol Mayor elections where Labour has rightly stayed clear of the so called 'rainbow' coalition of Tories and Liberals .
Andy McDonald wins in Middlesborough

In places like Somerset where there are elections next May it means Labour has to step up to the mark and fight in areas where it hasn't traditionally been successful  as the encumbent Lib Dems who had recently been voted in as 'the best way of keeping the tories out' will lose votes dramatically as that argument no longer holds. Labour needs to fight every County Council seat to prevent a massive Tory majority and fight to win!!

1st Labour 9,866
2nd UKIP 4,648
3rd BNP 1,804
4th Respect 1,778
5th Tory 1,157
6th Eng Dem 703
7th Ind 582
8th Lib Dem 451
9th  TUSC 281
10th Ind 51
11th EDL 29
Steve Reed wins in Croydon North

1st Labour 10,201
2nd UKIP 1,990
3rd Lib Dem 1,672
4th Tory 1,063
5th Peace Party 1,060
6th BNP 328
7th TUSC 277
8th Ind 275

Croydon North
1st Labour 15,800
2nd Tory 4,137
3rd UKIP 1,400
4th Lib Dem 860
5th Greens 855
6th Respect  707

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Outrage as Council Chief authorises payment of Tesco planning application fee

Labour Councillor's question moral and
technical legality of payment

 At the end of September Labour Councillors  were gearing themselves up to respond to the long awaited submission of the Tescos planning application for a megastore on Bridgwater's Brewery Field. When by the end of october this was still sat in the Councils in-tray they naturally began to ask questions.

The Sedgemoor Tories had gone to great lengths over the past years to make the Northgate area available for a new development including demolishing the popular Sedgemoor Splash swimming pool and putting the site out to potential developers. Only the multinational giant Tescos came up with the goods for them.

"Considering the level of opposition to the closure of the Splash, the loss of the green open space and the potential for long term damage to the town centre should a Tesco extra be built on Northgate the Labour group were keen to get into the planning process as soon as possible " said Cllr Brian Smedley who represents the Westover ward where the store is to be built "and with this in mind we asked at Full Council on October 24th why the Application was still in the in tray only to be told there were 'technical reasons' which couldn't be divulged."

'technical issues'

Not content with this the Labour group continued to investigate to get to the bottom of the matter and on November 12th had a special meeting with Corporate Directors including Chief Executive Kerry Rickards who confirmed that the 'technical issues' had been a confrontation between SDC and Tesco about the level of the planning fees which he had finally chosen to resolve by paying a proportion of them from Council funds under his delegated powers.

'News sparked outrage'
Cllr Tucker "indefensible waste
of public money"

 This news sparked outrage amongst the Labour group members present with cllr Kathy Pearce (Westover)  commenting  "There  are small traders such as those at West Quay who have been constantly told there is ‘no budget for a hardship fund’ yet there seems to be one for a Multinational" and Cllr Ian Tucker (Dunwear) who said "This is a disgraceful and indefensible waste of public money in a move that can only be seen as lining the pockets of one of Britains richest company's. It's simply a slap in the face of many small businesses who wish to expand but struggle to meet the normal planning fees."

"Three seconds to decide"

The Chief Executive  responded by saying that for him this was not a difficult decision as it took him only three seconds to decide to waive the fee and he was prepared to defend this position in the Press.

A delegation of senior Labour councillors - group leader Mick Lerry and Chairs of the two Scrutiny committees Julian Taylor and Brian Smedley discussed options with the Monitoring Officer  for reviewing this decision with members and getting the issue aired publically and have now agreed that the subject should form an agenda item on the Corporate Scrutiny Committee meeting of December 3rd.

"transparency and accountability"

Chairman of Corporate Scrutiny , Cllr Smedley, said  "Given the fundamental importance of respecting and upholding the separate roles of the Council as a landowner and as a Local Planning Authority if public confidence is to be maintained in the Council’s ability to determine Tesco’s planning application for the Northgate Development in an entirely impartial manner when it clearly has such a large financial interest in the outcome, it is vital that there is complete openness, transparency and accountability regarding the background to, details of and reasons for the Chief Executive’s decision made on 31 October 2012 to pay part of Tesco’s planning application fee for the Northgate Development despite this being Tesco’s responsibility under the terms of the sale contract (Development Agreement) for the Northgate Site dated 5 October 2011."

Cllr Taylor (Eastover) said I am very concerned that when the council is expecting householders to pay full planning application fees for alterations to their homes that a multibillion pound company, Tescos, should be offered a reduction in the fee. Whose side are the council administration on , ordinary people or big business?”
Brian Smedley Chair of Corporate Scrutiny

Cllr Smedley has circulated every Sedgemoor Councillor with a confidential note regarding his personal views on the matter in hand in advance of the meeting.

The Corporate Scrutiny Committee meeting will be held at 2.30 on Monday 3rd December.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Dr John Savage-the LABOUR  Candidate
Thursday November 15th is Election Day for the new post of Police & Crime Commissioner for the Avon & Somerset area and the Labour candidate is 
Dr John Savage. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

Why are these elections being held?

The coalition argues that the introduction of elected commissioners, who will replace local police authorities, will improve police accountability, free up officers for frontline duties and increase public confidence in the service. Commissioners’ duties will include appointing and dismissing chief constables, agreeing budgets and setting local policing priorities.
The brainchild of the Conservatives, who first proposed elected commissioners in their 2010 manifesto ,the policy was included in the Coalition Agreement, which pledged to "introduce measures to make the police more accountable through oversight by a directly elected individual". The commissioners will face re-election every four years.

Will Current  Tory popularity with the police be a factor?
What does Labour think?

Labour voted against the policy in Parliament on the grounds that it would end "a 150 year tradition of keeping politics out of policing" and cost the government tens of millions at a time of police cuts. The party considered boycotting the elections but eventually announced that it would stand a full slate of candidates, who would campaign against cuts and the privatisation of policing.

Why it is important to vote and Vote Labour?

One major concern about the Coalition Governments motivation for holding these elections is that there is a hidden agenda for 'Privatisation'. The 38 Degrees organisation has circulated a warning saying "In a few hours private security companies like G4S could be on their way to controlling big parts of Avon and Somerset police. The new police and crime commissioner elections are tomorrow (Thursday 15th) and there’s a big danger that pro-privatisation candidates could get in with just a few votes.That’s why we need to sound the alarm and get our friends and family to the polling stations armed with the facts.
Hardly anyone knows that these elections are even happening - experts reckon less than one in five people could vote. That means there’s a huge danger that we could end up with commissioners that few people even voted for privatising our police forcesVoting is easy - you just go along to your polling station, probably the same place as you would vote in a general election. Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm so it's easy to go before or after work and you don't even need to bring your polling card with you."

The departing Tory candidate leaves his mark on County Hall

Stop the Cuts-Oppose Police Privatisation-Vote Labour

Tory popularity is at it's lowest for ages within the Police due to the cutbacks and made worse since  the uproar over the 'Plebgate' scandal where the Tory Whip allegedly talked down to Police in Downing street. For us in Somerset there is a special reason to vote Labour -We can't allow the Tory candidate Ken Maddocks to win this election with his disastrous record of cutbacks  when he was leader of Somerset County Council and the person best placed to win is Labour's  Dr John Savage.

John says;-

"I will work tirelessly for a closer relationship between the needs and desires of the public and the work of the police.
Oppose any further reductions of front-line policing and fight for a fairer allocation of funds.
Build on the success of neighbourhood policing and ensure victims of crime have a voice at the heart of policing.
Develop a long-term, strategic vision for policing in Avon and Somerset that meets the needs of the public throughout the forces area.
I have over 40 years of business experience working in senior roles in the public and private sectors and have held responsibility for annual budgets in excess of £1 billion. I have a track record of success in delivering change and improvement in large organisations including the Learning and Skills Council, the Regional Development Agency and, latterly, as Chairman of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust.
These are difficult times. More is expected of our police while budgets are cut. There are no easy answers but I will ensure the police service prioritises neighbourhood policing over privatisation and that the service really listens to the public it serves.
Given my commitment to the service and the experience to be able to make a difference I believe I am the right person for this important role. It will be an honour to have your support."

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Cllr Ian Tucker "Taking the campaign to
the traders on the front line"
Councillor Ian Tucker (Labour,Dunwear) has undertaken to contact Town centre traders to find out their views on the impending Tesco development.  Ian has recently been elected to be the Town Councils representative on the BRI (Bridgwater Retail Initiative) and has been in constant communication with a growing number of traders since his appointment.
Cllr Tucker has urged Traders to make their views about Tescos known to the Planners who will be meeting at the end of November to discuss whether or not to support Tescos application.
The first major response came today from David Coles of Past & Present Furniture Store  in Monmouth Street
Mr Coles said "My views have always been clear about Tesco and they are that we do not need or want an even bigger supermarket than any already in place. It is laughable to say that 62.3% of Bridgwater residents are in favour and it is simply manipulation of statistics. The amount of spin doctoring about the starry eyed Bridgwater folk virtually begging Tesco to come is Alistair Campbell esque! I ran a straw poll over a couple of months at my shop earlier this year, asking people if they wanted another large supermarket in the town, off centre. The interesting thing was I never had one absolute positive yes. The one person who did not give a negative response was suffering from the usual Bridgwater apathy and didn’t really care either way."
"This is NOT some 'benevolent local trader."
   "The thing I find really irritating is the naivety of the public at large believing that this is actually real competition to the other big players in town which will drive down prices, this is simply a myth. This will simply put pressure on medium and small enterprise in the rest of the centre and cause closures of further businesses. I can easily envisage the loss of the likes of WH Smith and even some of the Angel place occupants, even Boots may be lured away from Fore Street at best, gone at worst Superdrug similarly not to mention the independents out in the town. The other joke is about the money that will now not leak from the town by being spent at Tesco. This is not some benevolent local trader, the money made is not staying and being spent here, apart from some from the low wages of the staff, which currently do not meet the living wage standard of £7.20per hour. A good proportion of the 260 mostly part time jobs created will replace employment lost elsewhere through closures and efficiency pressures due to this development, but at least the members of staff will benefit from “extended organ donation leave” (what the hell is that all about!!)."
David Coles "We need Leisure facilities
and not supermarkets"
"Traffic impact Seriously underestimated"
Mr Cole continued "I feel that the traffic impact has been seriously underestimated and again it is ridiculous to suggest that there will not be a “significant increase in traffic on the network as it already exists and is currently going elsewhere”. Have the council given real consideration to the impact on the Canon roundabout at busy times? Currently the traffic queues across the roundabout as it backs up on the Clink with traffic trying to get to the Sainsbury and Wickes sites and turning left to go to ASDA. Throw in all of the festive or bank holiday type traffic with the new Tesco traffic plus Hinkley point project traffic and hey presto, a town that no one in their right mind would come within 5 miles of. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the proposed link road between the Clink and Leggar, as I can foresee Sainsbury having an influence as to whether this actually happens, and I am sure they will be like Asda and Morrisons, welcoming Tesco with open arms!"
"If we want to have nothing but supermarkets...."
"We have all seen the disastrous effect of ASDA on Eastover and this will be the same at the top end of town. If we want to have nothing but supermarkets and cafes then full steam ahead and watch the rest of the town die away. I for one will not be crossing the threshold of this development."
"Thinking in terms of the bigger picture, this could also undermine any efforts towards the Eastover triangle and the possibility of partial pedestrianisation of East Quay/Riverfront as we will have such huge traffic bottlenecks that it becomes impossible to close off any existing routes. "
"Shame on Doug Bamsey"
"I think sadly it is inevitable that this will happen and shame on Doug Bamsey for persuading the executive that this is the best option for Bridgwater. If I am right in believing that our population is estimated to increase to 80000 by 2020 we need leisure facilities not supermarkets and an infrastructure that can cope with it."