Sedgemoor District Council was created in 1974 to replace the existing Local Government structures in the area of Somerset based around Bridgwater. These were previously a series of Town and Rural District Councils.
In the case of Bridgwater the creation of Sedgemoor was a disaster as it took away the centuries old power of the Borough Council (during which time such popular initiatives as the Bridgwater lido,left, were built) and replaced it with a Rural majority from outside the town and as far afield as Cheddar and Burnham. Worse, it meant that traditionally Labour Bridgwater was now at the mercy of backwoods Tories and a period of decline quickly followed.
Sedgemoor has been Tory controlled apart from a brief 3 year interval in the late 90s when an arrangement between the Labour and LibDem groups took control. At the time the Tories were reeling from the unpopularity of nearly 20 years in Government including the horrors of the Thatcher regime , the disastrous Poll tax and the Financial collapse under John Major. Inevitably most of Bridgwater and Highbridge went Labour along with Woolavington whilst the Lib Dems picked up Tory marginals in rural wards such as Burnham South, Huntspill, Puriton and Wedmore. The combined Labour-LibDem vote was 25 to the Tory 24 (13 Lab 12 Lib) and for 3 years the 2 parties shared the chairs and vice chairs of committees and council.(Picture right;-shows Labour Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Adrian Moore and Labour Chairman of Sedgemoor Cllr Sandy Buchanan entertaining a group of Czech students)
Inevitably the inconsistent Lib Dem vote collapsed at the next election when they went from 12 to 1 member largely due to a Tory campaign directed at them in particular as they were also the party in control at County and because their newly gained wards had very few traditional core voters in them unlike the Labour and Tory wards..
With the swing to Labour Nationally the local party rose to its peak of 16 councillors and has remained the main opposition party - currently with 11 councillors - whilst the LibDems have faded to obscurity with no councillors remaining in Bridgwater, 2 key members deserting to the Tories and a mere 3 surviving in the Burnham and Highbridge area.
The leader of Sedgemoor until recently was the hard line old style Tory John Lang whose narrow minded reign built up the problems of today by keeping council taxes so low that they failed to build up reserves or a contingency fund leaving the currently more centrist Tory regime of Duncan McGinty with little room to meet targets and taking massively unpopular decisions such as demolishing the Sedgemoor Splash (right)and making painful cuts in staff and services .
A few years back Sedgemoor campaigned hard NOT to be forced into the Unitary control of Somerset and won - however, the failings of a Tory Sedgemoor and the virtual destruction of Bridgwater at their hands may need a new rethink about how power is redistributed locally!