Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Sedgemoor Labour Leader, Roger Lavers, who died recently had been the leader of the Labour opposition in Sedgemoor for the past 10 years and will be greatly missed for his leadership skills, his compassion for the people he served and for his dedication to the cause of holding Sedgemoors Tories to account.
Roger was born in 1943 and grew up in Plymouth. His formal education included an Engineering apprenticeship at the Naval Dockyard. He later worked at a small shipyard at Hamble,Solent and then for CEGB in Plymouth, Didcot, and at Hinkley Point.
As an engineer he became a Union activist in the AEU, a shop steward, and a union delegate. In later years he became a manager concerned with performance improvement.
He first became active in the Bridgwater Labour Party in the mid 1980's and stood for the District in the 1987 election when Labour was at it's lowest ebb locally bedevilled by in fighting and in fact even stood candidates against itself that year. Roger stood in the Eastover ward but was unsuccessful as the Party was reduced to a mere 4 councillors.
2 years later Labours fortunes were reversing drastically and the party was bouncing back with a new and united determination to get rid of Thatcherism. In 1989 he stood for Bridgwater North in the County Council election and won a great victory with Labour taking 3 out of the 4 Bridgwater seats.
He remained as a County Councillor until 1997, and during this period, was also elected to the District Council seat to represent Bridgwater Victoria (1995 to 2007).
His wife Christine had won a sensational victory in their home village of Woolavington and when she stood down in 2007 Roger took over the seat and fought a hard battle to keep the Tories out winning by a close margin at a time that Tory fortunes were reviving.
At the time of the Labour landslide in 1997 Roger was adopted as the Parliamentary candidate for the Bridgwater Constituency and at the same time became Labour leader on Sedgemoor.
Roger was also the Chair of Woolavington parish Council and at one time theMayor of Bridgwater 1999-2000. in Millennium Year, and in his robes, he abseiled down the tower of St Marys Church. Almost definitely the only Mayor of Bridgwater ever to have done this.
His key achievements during his time as Mayor was to press the Government to change the status of the Charter Trustees in to a Town Council and as an aide to this, Set up the Bridgwater Forum.
In his final years Roger campaigned hard to save the Sedgemoor Splash in the face of relentless Tory pressure to scrap the much loved amenity and one of his last actions at council was to launch a blistering attack on the Electoral review body for presenting a sham consultation process -which won applause across the council floor.
Cllr Kathy Pearce, Roger's deputy, is currently acting Labour leader.