Category: Local Politics

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Hell or High Water?

Graham Hurley

The TV pictures from Kabul last weekend were apocalyptic: thousands of desperate Afghans converging on the airport, families and a handful of belongings crammed into their cars. Already refugees in the face of the breaking wave of Taliban at the city’s gates, many of them chose to spend the night parked up around the airport […]

Dealing with disappointing data – a guide for aspiring autocrats

Mick Fletcher
Carnical models of Putin and Kim Jong-Un

Even the most authoritarian of regimes feel the need to pretend that they enjoy popular support. Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-Un, for example, routinely claim to have won huge majorities in elections that were quite clearly rigged. In a similar way, UK politicians whose actions show scant respect for democracy, work hard to give the […]

Highway holdup for Somerset cyclists

Mick Fletcher
group of cyclists on Brean Way cycle-path

Slow progress on cycle-paths One of the reasons that progress in developing a network of cycle-paths in England is glacially slow is that opposition turns up where you might reasonably have expected support. ‘Blocked by the Burdensome Estate’ set out how an agency sponsored by the Department for Transport is still undermining moves to create […]

Somerset wants local government to be local

Mick Fletcher
Leaders of the four regional concils behind Stronger Somerset

Double defeat for Jenrick It’s a double defeat for ‘Honest Bob’ Jenrick.  Firstly, the free vote of Somerset residents that he tried so hard to stop has taken place. Secondly local electors resoundingly rejected the option he so obviously preferred – the ambition of failing Somerset County Council (SCC) to take over the four districts.  […]

Ian Liddell-Grainger sums up the Somerset ‘spoof’ situation and urges everyone to vote in the referendum the establishment tried to stop

Editor-in-chief

West Country Bylines contacted Mr Liddell-Grainger for a comment for our article earlier today (24 May) and he responded with this, giving us permission to use it however we liked. We’re showing you the original document and the text, in case it’s not clear on your device. “The “spoof website” that eclipsed the start of […]

Letter to the editor: Make Votes Matter

Editor-in-chief

Dear Editor, On 6 May, much of the country went to the ballot box to select county council representatives.  “On the doorsteps people told me that ‘politicians don’t listen to us anyway’ ”. So said Ruth Rollin, Liberal Democrat candidate for Brockenhurst. She continues, “I’d like to hope that we would all welcome a voting […]

What really happened in May 6 elections: reasons to be cheerful

Sadie Parker

Can you imagine Fiona Bruce, with a straight face, asking the BBC Question Time audience, zooming in or otherwise, “What is the point of the Conservative and Unionist (Tory) Party?” The sinister coupling of a further erosion of civil rights, even as this Tory government restores some freedoms it temporarily suspended for public health reasons, […]

Fysh in a flap over democracy

Anthea Simmons

What is it with the current Conservative government and democracy? Voter suppression via ID cards, switching from a progressive proportional representation voting system to the regressive first past the post system (FPTP) for mayoral elections. (And that’s because, as we have seen, under FPTP a party can get a stonking majority on a minority of […]

Is Cornwall seeing a return to rotten boroughs?

Tom Scott

The local elections in Cornwall have seen the Conservatives take control of the council with the votes of fewer than 15% of registered voters. In the 18th and early 19th century, Cornwall was notorious for having more so-called ‘rotten boroughs’ than anywhere else in England. The historian Lewis Namier described Cornish politics in the 1760s: […]

Letter to the editor: Dartington – threatened with devastating change

Editor-in-chief

“Conservative party plans at their worst were realised in Dartington yesterday. The disastrous Joint Local Plan and its unsustainable plan which dumped far too many new housing sites in Dartington, left its very grubby marks at SHDC Planning Committee yesterday. Very regrettably, all my fellow Councillors except for Cllr Kate Kemp, voted in favour of […]

Making democracy difficult

Eric Gates

While we have all been hearing about the interior design tastes of various Conservative ladies (past, present and aspiring residents of Downing Street), there has been another little episode in the drama of local democracy. The case brought by Hertfordshire County Council to allow the continued use of Zoom and similar tools to enable on-line […]

Somerset’s local democracy in danger from this man

Mick Fletcher

On 3 March we published an article by Theo Butt Philip highlighting the decision of Robert Jenrick to cancel elections to Somerset County Council. You can follow the preview link to the full article below. In essence Jenrick had decided that whether the people of Somerset liked it or not they would move to a […]

Toxic tribalism in politics got us into this mess. It has to stop.

Anthea Simmons

At last! Two things happen that all sane, honest and fair-minded people have been praying for! 1) Peter Stefanovic’s tweeted video compilation of Johnson’s very many lies to parliament surged through the 10 million views barrier and beyond, and finally began to gain some traction with both the media and politicians. and (partly as a […]

If you want to keep your community hospital, you must stay vigilant

Anthea Simmons

Back in August of last year, we published an article by Mike Sheaff on NHS Property Services (NHSPS) and its aggressive policy on rents charged and eviction of tenants (GPs etc!) from NHSPS-owned properties. We have also carried a number of press releases from the campaigning body Save our Hospital Services (SOHS), including their fight […]

Virtual unreality and the over-centralised state

Mick Fletcher

It is not the worst decision taken by the current administration, but one that neatly encapsulates the insularity and arrogance of our over-centralised government: the powers that enable local authorities to function safely during the pandemic by holding meetings on-line will lapse on 7 May, and will not be renewed. The reason, to be blunt, […]

Listen to our debate on the future of the NHS and healthcare

Anthea Simmons

On 24 March, WCB ran the second of a series of Zoom Q&A events on hot political and socio-economic topics. In the wake of the publication of the Government’s white paper on the future of health and social care, the sale of GP practices to a US healthcare provider, privatisation of test and trace, the […]

The South West joins mass action on climate emergency

Rosie Haworth Booth

Further to the piece on 3 March by Tom Scott on Katharine Lewis and the Helston Climate Action Group, Rosie Haworth-Booth from North Devon alerts us to a cross country drive this weekend on bringing a crucial private member’s bill to greater public attention. People living in the UK don’t need to look far to […]

School funding crisis in Somerset will mean closures and redundancies

Editor-in-chief

Somerset County Council shows no signs of changing course on school closures and staff redundancies in Somerset  Plans for wholesale changes to schools in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area came to Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee this week (Wednesday 3 March), prior to the Council’s Cabinet making a final decision on […]

Will Mangnall be empty-chaired?

Laurie Taylor

Laurie Taylor of Make Votes Matter in Totnes : Our local Make Votes Matter (MVM) group has been working hard to develop something in the place of the ‘lobby’ about Electoral Reform which Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall (AM) has refused to have with us. We have decided on a different zoom event where we will […]