Garfield Kennedy

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Shepton West Learn more


by Garfield Kennedy on 25 April, 2011

At County Council, District and Town Council in Shepton, we’ve had a Tory Councillor who only acted for her own class and Party. She told residents living in former Council houses at a formal Planning meeting that “we all don’t aspire to live in a Council house”.

Unsurprisingly incensed residents complained to Mendip’s Standards Committee, who met and ruled her out of order. She was instructed to apologize in person to the residents. That was more than 6 months ago – yet no-one has received any form of apology from this councillor, who has now submitted her resignation.

This gives Shepton the chance for change to vote for the Lib Dem’s choice of candidate – myself.

There are no no-go areas for us here in Shepton – yet the Tories have never properly given support or representation to those outside their cosy group of pals and Tory cronies.

They are even supporting the Chairman of Mendip District Council, Cllr Edward James, who was director of a company which ran a £20m Ponzi scheme where up to 13,000 lost money – and in some cases their homes and livelihoods.  James has been arrested and bailed yet his Tory cronies have let him continue to serve as a councillor and were even reluctant for him to withdraw (temporarily) from being Chair of Mendip!   On websites and on the doorstep Tories are even telling voters that James has been hard done by!

With dogma-driven cutting at County – much deeper and faster than even their own Tory government is recommending – Shepton people are suffering quite unnecessarily. A third of our libraries are to close – yet the Shepton Tories claim they saved them! Lib Dems have promised that parking charges are be to axed in areas where they make no sense – yet Tory literature lies, saying that parking charges in Shepton are to rise! Recycling has been wrecked in Somerset since the Tories have introduced charges at the gate to enter, shut down recycling centres for 2.5 days every week, and charged up to £45.60 for single items to be dropped off! Is it any wonder that recycling has stalled and the countryside is starting to fill up with fly-tipped rubbish? Somerset Tories have cut off subsidies to bus companies so Shepton is isolated at 5.55pm every night when the buses stop – so there is no way (bar a £50 taxi trip) to get to neighbouring towns of Frome and Wells – unless (like the Tories) you own a car and can afford the rising petrol prices. At the weekend there are no buses at all – so anyone without a car with a relative in hospital has no way to go and see them.

Unique in the whole of Britain, they’ve cut the Arts budget by 100%; they’ve closed our police station; they’ve withdrawn support from the PCSOs; they’ve cut the youth services budget by 75%; they’ve sacked nearly all their staff in children’s services; they’ve hired an £800 a day “consultant” to recommend how to make more cuts; they’ve fired their Chief Executive in County Hall and hired another at an inflated salary (total extra costs wasted in pay-offs and advertising: £350,000); they’ve spent £300,000 on a spanking new swish Cabinet Chamber – then sacked the Cabinet so Tory Leader Ken Maddock can run things without criticism. That Cabinet Chamber has never been used – another £300,000 of our money poured down the drain!

Somerset County Council has had one of the best “settlements” from national government this year with an overall cut to its budget of just 2%. There is no justification for cutting off the town, trying to close its library, slashing the hours for the library and recycling centres, turning Somerset into an arts desert, withdrawing police and PCSOs and at the same time pulling the rug from under youth and children’s services.  It’s plain daft (if not criminal) and Shepton deserves much better.

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