Some things what happen in Bridgwater and some equally personal thoughts about them by Westover Councillor and Town Council Leader Brian Smedley. All opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily not bonkers.
What did the Europeans ever do for us? Well, they brought us Proportional Representation for one thing. And PR means you can vote for who you want and it means there’s no such thing as ‘Tactical Voting’. Lib Dems -who are trying desperately to claw back the 1 seat they lost in South West England are at it again trying to convince people that to stop Brexit you have to vote ‘tactically’ and implying (well, in fact saying) that this means voting for them. They are wrong of course. The PR system we have means you aren’t voting to stop Brexit, UKIP or the Tories (although the last lot are doing a pretty good job of stopping themselves) you’re voting for who you WANT to be in power in Europe when all the votes are in next Monday. I will be voting LABOUR.
As the smoke lifts from the battlefield and the carnage reveals itself , our thoughts turn to those that fell, those that survived, why it all happened in the first place and how we can avoid it all happening again. Thus it is in war and thus it was in the local elections. The bravest fell and the requiem bell rang mournfully loud and clear. But did it? There were 707 spoilt ballot papers across Sedgemoor. 23 of them in Westover. But actually I had a majority of 224 so why should I care about the 23 . But I do and so it’s worth looking into. Why did 23 people out of 4072 feel they were sending a message by spoiling their ballot paper and why did the 1704 people, who did go out to vote in Westover (and were the ones who chose their councillors) realise that spoiling your paper was as pointless as it was failing to understand the fragile democracy that we have and that generations had fought for. I bet the people that spoilt their ballot papers when Hitler got voted in back in 1933 were kicking themselves shortly afterwards. When they weren’t being kicked by the Gestapo that is..
Labour’s National Executive Committee are quite right to remind people that the local elections this Thursday are nothing to do with Brexit. Here at Bridgwater Town Council or there at Woolavington Parish Council or down stream at the People’s Republic of Otterhampton, none of us can deliver either Brexit OR a ‘Second Referendum’ no matter how many political leaflets people rip up in front of us. British democracy is alive and well and living in a ballot box near you this Thursday and if people decide not to turn up to vote because ‘there’s no democracy anymore’ then well, someone else will be deciding for them who runs their local council. Because even if just one person turns up to vote then someone gets in. I mean, it’s not Brussels that empties your bins -even though it might feel like it on occasion.
Last month Bridgwater Town Council passed a motion urging action on climate change. At the time, Deputy Leader and Environment Spokesperson Cllr Kathy Pearce (Westover) said ‘this must not sit gathering dust on a shelf’. So this months ‘Town Diary’ has been handed over to Kathy to explain what that means in real terms.
Kathy writes:Nationally Labour is demanding a reduction of global carbon emissions by 45% from the 2010 levels by 2030, reducing to “net zero” before 2050.
Internationally, Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish student, has led the global call for a mass rollout of renewable and low carbon energy and transport, environmental protections, reversing species decline and developing plans to move towards a zero waste economy. Continue reading “Climate Change Emergency – What we can do locally”
It should have been the easiest meeting of the year. The Annual Town Meeting is where anybody in the town is welcome to turn up to the Town Hall and talk about what’s been good and bad, what they wanted last year and whether we’ve delivered it this year. I was very happy with that because for the last 4 years we’ve said what we’ll do and we’ve done it and the people who turned up asked us to do stuff and we did that too. And even better, because there’s an election this year the meeting fell in the period known as ‘purdah’ that’s when you’re not meant to talk about ‘politics’ for fear of prejudicing the outcome. But then the Tories turned up….
Happy was I that ‘the B word’ (that’s ‘Brexit’ not ‘Bloody Wigan’) was not even remotely connected with Town Council elections and even happier was I that I could talk about the Councils achievements without even mentioning ‘the P word’…..or so I thought. I should have noticed that in a room full of 20+ people there were 12 members of the public, 12 sitting councillors and 17 prospective council candidates. And 4 of them Tories. Fronted by the Duchess of Durleigh herself, absent from the town council after a 4 year rest (for us) she’d rallied the blue rinse brigades and parked them back on our lawn. Neatly mowed though it was. Continue reading “Bridgwater’s Annual Town Meeting: Never mind ‘the B word’ we couldn’t even get past ‘the P word’.”