Category: Local Politics

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Calling all tractor enthusiasts! Conservatives desperate for a candidate to beat the LibDems in Tiverton and Honiton…

Anthea Simmons

Well, well! The ConservativeHome website makes for a fascinating visit. It seems applications are now open for a candidate to replace disgraced former MP for Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish, in the upcoming by-election. Anyone interested in standing needs to apply by 18 May. William Atkinson, the site’s assistant editor, writes: “Though traditionally safe, the […]

Fear and loathing in East Dorset

Adam Sofianos

If you think your local government is chaotic, just take a trip to the Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole region.  BCP Council was only formed three years ago, but already we’re on our second administration, with possibly another change next year.  There’s been corruption fears, departments in special measures, budget scandals, and major concerns raised about everything from the […]

Lib Dem landslide in Somerset – a sign of things to come?

Mick Fletcher

One fact shows the sheer scale of the Conservative defeat in the elections for the new Somerset County Council. The 61 Liberal Democrat councillors elected to the new unitary authority will form the largest group from that party on any elected assembly in the UK. Only the House of Lords – not of course an […]

Fire service cuts: Ashburton area protection downgraded and more to follow

Tony Morris

Fire Authority stealth cuts put lives and property at risk, argues Tony Morris. Just a couple of years after Ashburton residents successfully fought to save their fire station, the Conservative controlled fire & rescue authority has stabbed them in the back. In a secret move, Ashburton’s properly equipped fire engine has been removed and replaced […]

Trying to do more with less: austerity lives on in Devon

Julian Andrews
elderly woman in window looking out

As government continues to shift the burden for services (and the blame for their shortcomings) onto councils, whilst cutting their budgets, Julian Andrews explains the impact on Devon’s budget and inhabitants. “The age of irresponsibility is giving way to the age of austerity”, said David Cameron in 2009. Shortly afterwards, then-Chancellor George Osborne announced cuts […]

Telling tales

Anna Andrews

With the author’s grateful acknowledgements to ‘Louise’ and ‘Don’ (not their real names) for their personal insights into the North Shropshire by-election. “It was as if they had no real concept of democracy in action.” So says Louise, talking about the North Shropshire by-election in which the LibDems (Liberal Democrats) won such a stunning victory. […]

Devon’s housing crisis: the champions of change

Anthea Simmons

How many of us have experienced, or can begin to really comprehend, what it is to be without a home? How many of us have known the unsettling insecurity of living in rented accommodation at the whim of a landlord who might at any moment, once the fixed term contract is up, issue a Section […]

Madness

Graham Hurley
Johnson graffiti

“Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad“. Sophocles did not, of course, have Boris Johnson in mind, but the dramatist’s line from Antigone has survived the passage of time, and two recent speeches – coupled with Johnson’s usual insouciance about the gathering storms that beset us all – suggest that Greek […]

A dangerous dowry for the new Somerset unitary authority

Mick Fletcher

The prospects for the new unitary authority recently imposed on Somerset are not good. Like local government everywhere, the county is having to cope with a dysfunctional funding system and a decade of austerity. It will soon have to cope with the extra costs of reorganisation, estimated at over £16m. On top of this, however, […]

Helston residents rally to defend the hedgerows of Hospital Cross

Tom Scott

Helston Town Council and the Downsland Charity have failed to allay concerns over the sale of a wildlife corridor to developers. Last month, West Country Voices reported on a tangle of conflicting interests that has enmeshed Helston Town Council and a charitable trust that is meant to be acting in the interests of residents of […]

Will Gove junk Jenrick’s planning ‘reforms’ or can we expect more of the same: builders and developers first, locals a very distant second?

David Knopfler

Robert Jenrick, the MP for Newark and former housing minister, lost his cabinet post under something of a cloud, after being caught failing to declare a secret meeting between himself and a clutch of property developers in the Enterprise Forum. He was clearly not entirely happy with his demotion, firing off a thinly veiled slingshot […]

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 Voices 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, […]