Saturday, 6 November 2010


Bridgwater Labour Party members joined a large demonstration in Taunton this weekend organised by Taunton and West Somerset Trades Council to protest against Tory Somerset County Councils plans to cut £43 million pounds from public services and around 1,500 jobs.

The demonstration marched from French weir to County Hall and received considerable support from saturday morning shoppers in the town centre.

At County Hall speakers received applause for their condemnation of the cuts. Unisons Nigel Behan said “This level of cuts will make Somerset as we know it unrecognisable. All areas of spending have come under the axe and there is not a family anywhere that will be unaffected. The people of Somerset are being made to pay for a situation that is not of their making and it is the most vulnerable that will be hit the hardest.”

Mr Behan added that the proposed cuts were also set to have an enormous negative impact on the local economy, with job loss and fear of redundancy dramatically reducing spend on goods and services. “This is very bad news for small businesses” he said. “There is a real fear that this will turn a fragile recovery into another deep recession”.

County Labour group leader Andy Govier (Wellington) said the extent of the cuts were unneccesary and stressed that not all councillors supported them.He said "the cuts would hit the adult social care budget , the special education service, subsidised bus services, bus passes and student transport which would all be axed, as will the library budget, forcing some libraries to close. Community policing will be cut, reducing the number of officers on the streets. 75% of funding for youth services will be withdrawn, as well as all funding for theatres and arts groups. Eight household recycling centres will close and the road repair budget will be so severely reduced that an increase in road deaths and serious injuries will be inevitable."

Other speakers stressed their opposition to the cuts, the desire to fightback and the alternatives to the approach taken by Tory leader Ken Maddocks.

Cllr Ross Henley (Lib Dems) pointed out that Somerset had previously been a 4 star authority whilst Mendip District under Cllr Maddocks had been flagged up as a failing council unable to protect public services. He stressed that not all Lib Dems supported the cuts nationally.

However, despite Cllr Henleys welcome support for the campaign, speakers roundly condemned the liberals backing for the Tories. Rob Thompson, a Taunton student, spoke particularly well and pointed the finger of guilt clearly at LibDem MPs such as Tauntons Jeremy Browne saying "He came to our college and promised us that he would not vote for the raising of tuition fees. People believed him . But he lied. No more so called 'tactical voting'!"

Glen Burrows from Bridgwater Trades Council and the RMT union said there was an alternative. "In 1945 this country was on it's knees but out of that the sons and daughters of miners and factory workers and railway workers built a welfare state. Today there is no financial crisis -this is a rich country with billions in unpaid taxes from the rich. This is an ideological attack by the ruling class on ordinary working people and the welfare state. "
She urged people not to accept the cuts but to fight back through the organisations they had built up from their Trades Unions to their local Community groups, from the Creche to the workplace.