Garfield Kennedy

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Shepton West Learn more

A FRESH START FOR SHEPTON IN TOWN, DISTRICT AND COUNTY ELECTIONS

by Garfield Kennedy on 9 April, 2011

I’m standing in the forthcoming elections on May 5th for my town and the District in Shepton West Ward. It’s a real chance for a change for the better at all levels of government. This follows the success of our Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt last May when she won an historic victory unseating a far too long-serving Tory who got caught cheating the public (claiming for thousands of pounds of manure on his Parliamentary expenses!). Not only do we have a chance to clear the tired old Tories out at Mendip, but our Tory County Councillor has stood down “because her heart wasn’t in it” and I have been asked to contest the seat.

After 9 months of serving my community as District Councillor in Mendip for Shepton West, I am even more convinced of the crying need for change in Shepton’s local politics.

What I saw in Mendip was a cosy sub-group of Conservatives making all decisions and allowing no other voices or opinions to be considered. Most meetings were mere shams with the decisions taken in secret session before any debate in public meetings. This was not democracy in a form that any of us in Shepton should find acceptable.

I am very concerned that the planned expansion of Shepton on the Showground site is massively out of scale with what the town actually needs. I want Shepton treated with the respect that we deserve. We are an ancient market town in a rural community. Much of the development that has been foisted onto us has been out of keeping with the scale and architecture of the town. Our councillors have been far too compliant and have consistently been unwilling to stand up for our community.

Mendip District Council candidates for Shepton: Myself, Sue Cook, Sarah Yong and Bob Champion

I’m standing again for Mendip with popular community activist and organiser of our annual Fun Run, Sue Cook, in Shepton West, as my running mate. Long term Sheptonians and proven campaigners, Sarah Yong and Town Councillor, Bob Champion, are standing for the Lib Dems in Shepton East. All of us live here and care deeply about our town and its future.

I have also been selected to stand for Somerset County Council in the forthcoming by-election that will be conducted on the same day as the District and Town elections. For the first time in years I want to give a voice for all in our community at County Hall in Taunton.

There is much to do – be it to fight to get Shepton reconnected to Wells and Frome in the evening and weekends after the short-sighted decision to withdraw bus services that are life-lines in our rural community. Or to expose the false economy of charging £2 for each visit to recycling centres (and extra charges for individual items up to a whopping £45 for a single tyre!).

We already pay for our rubbish collection and recycling in our Council Tax. Now we will also have to pay for cleaning up the heaps of dumped rubbish on the roads and countryside. The costs of clearing up Somerset after all the fly-tipping that will blot our landscape in the weeks and months ahead will wipe out any “savings” claimed by the Tory-run County Council.

I would also challenge the 100% cuts to the Arts (by both Mendip and Somerset CC that make our district the worst cultural desert in the whole of Britain), or the decision (against all government advice) to close 11 libraries and cut the hours of the rest, or the decision to make all savings in three years when the government want the cuts to be spread over four.

I entirely agree with many who argue that truly community-spirited councillors are best for all levels of local government. This applies especially in the town and parish council elections. We have a team of passionate local community-minded prospective councillors – all of whom have committed to serving their town and community before any party loyalty.

The Lib Dem Team in Shepton – I’m on the extreme right!

Chantal Allison and Robin Scott are joining Sue Cook and I on Shepton West. Neil Shearn, Martin Lovell and Richard Varley (also standing as District Councillor for the neighbouring Croscombe and Pilton ward), join Bob Champion in the East. I also fully support campaigners Irene Handley, Will Dunscombe and David Evans for Town Council who are standing as true independents who will serve our community with commitment, passion and integrity.

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