Bridgwater Town Diary

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.

The Lib Dems:- a Warning From History

lib dims
Won’t get fooled again….or will we?

I have to admit I was a Liberal once. It was at the time when my pet pony Bimbo had died and I wanted to get back at the world without damaging the essentially benevolent nature of international capitalism. And, of course, to annoy my Labour voting parents. It was a time when you knew the Liberals wouldn’t get anywhere and nobody, including yourself, actually wanted them to. How times have changed. These days the Libdems actively try to get into government, even though nobody wants them to. And will do anything to achieve those ends whether its trying to convince people that Labour can’t win in areas where they clearly can and are best placed to, or actively getting into bed with the dastardly but oh-we -love-them-really Tories  and forming coalitions where they sell out almost all of the policies they got elected on in the first place. But the history is out there for us to learn from….but will we?

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Dear Queen, about these shopping trolleys…..

Bridgwater, redefining itself as a tourism destination….

This week a dead cow floated along the River Parrett and came to rest amongst the shopping trolleys under Bridgwater’s famous town bridge. Later that day it floated away. And then came back again on the next tide. For Bridgwater Town Council Leader ,Brian Smedley, who was in the middle of guiding a party of tourists from Bristol Civic Society around the town, this was the last straw. But when he contacted Sedgemoor District Council they told him to contact the Environment Agency. Then when he contacted the Environment Agency they said they wouldn’t remove it as it wasn’t a flood hazard and would probably just float away. It did. But then floated back. Then he contact Somerset County Council who, apart from not having any money to do pretty much anything at the moment, also totally denied all responsibility. For a couple of days a dead cow has been floating up and down our river. But for a year or more a couple of dozen discarded shopping trolleys have also come to characterise Bridgwater at low tide. And no one seems to want to do anything about that either. So on deeper investigation Cllr Smedley discovered that in fact the river bed from shiny sea to Blake Bridge on Broadway is in fact designated responsibility of the Crown Estates. Finally finding the responsible party he wrote to them to sort it out at once. The actual letter is attached herein but the first draft, recovered from the Town Hall recycling centre, you can find reproduced below…

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D Day. Where They Fought them on the Beaches – So that we didn’t have to.

Thoughts of D Day

This week was D-DAY. Although you may not have noticed. On ‘actual’ D-Day, my Grandad, Sid Wright, landed a tank on actual Sword Beach and lost an actual finger in the process. It never grew back. My Grans brothers (the Cardiss Brothers, hitherto a less than popular Leeds based vaudeville act, who had also , as twins, fought each other in the finals of the pre-war Yorkshire area Fish-Supper-Weight boxing championships) signed up together for World War 2 to fight fascism and had died together at Tobruk in the African deserts. And my dad (no relation) had been on the aircraft carriers on the arctic convoys keeping  the Red Army supplied with tanks, guns and mittens, in order to maintain the heroic Eastern Front that had been pushing back Hitler in grimmer than grim fighting for the previous 3 years while Britain stood alone. With only Russia, America, China and the Commonwealth for allies. So when it came to my turn to drive a tank into battle and face down our countries enemies I woke up and thankfully remembered I wasn’t even in the army.

I wasn’t in the army because I didn’t have to be. After D-Day, that generation of all our families had fought and defeated Fascism and united a continent that had been at war with itself for 2000 years, give or take a millennium. We now have a small professional army of people who actually want to be in it and are trained to be good at it. Yes for nearly 50 years they stood nose to nose in the centre of Europe facing down the Warsaw Pact countries, but never a shot was fired. And after 1989 they all gave up that cold war and joined us in our united and peaceful Europe that everyone’s fathers and grandfathers, mothers and aunties, had all fought for. So that their children and their children’s children didn’t have to go through the same thing ever again. Continue reading “D Day. Where They Fought them on the Beaches – So that we didn’t have to.”

How Do I Vote? Well, if it’s an ‘Election’-VOTE LABOUR

A Labour voters thoughts on who you should vote for in the European elections, with some unsurprising conclusions

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.

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The Spoils of War

As the smoke clears….

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..

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