Tuesday, 14 February 2012

"Stop playing around with us! " says Labour leader as SDC Tax set meeting Adjourned

Sedgemoor District Council’s annual council tax set meeting was adjourned today as the ruling Tory group asked for more time to negotiate with Nuclear Energy giant EDF about Community benefit . The  failure to reach a settlement could have a major affect on the Council Tax and seriously hamper the Council’s ability to continue to carry out vital work in scrutinising EDF Energy’s application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission for the proposed £10 billion new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.

A Sedgemoor spokesperson said "The £2million contribution required by the council covers the costs that will be incurred by both Sedgemoor and West Somerset Councils as well as some of those incurred by the County. The funds are needed for researching, producing evidence and presenting arguments for the various issues that local communities have said are important to them such as housing, transport, community safety, leisure and the environment."

                                                   Taxpayers money

   "Sedgemoor District Council is  adamant that local council taxpayers’ money should not be used to carry out this work, as the project is of national benefit and importance and is being built by a commercial, profit-making company.  It is estimated that very large sums of money will be needed to carry out this work and SDC are not willing to set their council tax without this amount being agreed upon.  EDF have previously funded this work but have not confirmed so far the amount for the next stage despite on-going negotiations with the Councils over the matter."

Tory leader, Cllr Duncan McGinty commented “It is entirely improper that we use extremely scarce public money to fund the development process relating to a privately owned commercial asset of a company which is expected to reveal profits of £3.8bn later this week . The IPC will be expecting to see properly researched evidence from the councils as to information contained in EDF’s application and we are not prepared to pay for this from local tax.  This is a core business for EDF, who will be spending many millions on their application.  They will also be buying in the best legal and technical advice as they need.  We need to be able to properly challenge their claims and this does not come cheap given the resources they have put behind their own professional team.”

Labour leader Cllr Mick Lerry
"EDF should make the resources available"

Labour leader Cllr Mick Lerry, (Victoria)  who had been preparing to present an Alternative Budget, expressed his dissapointment that this situation had only been revealed today and that members had been given no indication as to the difficulties being experienced in the negotiations. He said "EDF have put us in this position and they are not living up to their responsibilities. They are denying us the resources that are neccesary and we are all united behind the decision of the last Labour Government that this new nuclear programme should not come at any increased cost to the taxpayers. EDF need to stop playing around with us and if they are serious should make the resources available. We have to look at the possible consequences of failing to reach an agreement and if neccessary we would support taking this to judicial review."

                                                           Changing the Rules

cllr Julian Taylor
"EDF are changing the rules of the game"
Labour deputy leader, Cllr Julian Taylor (Eastover) said "Here is a situation where a Multinational Company largely owned by the French state is changing the rules of the game and forcing through a major project . There is no supported provided by the Coalition Government either despite their support for this in their manifesto. The Labour group represents Bridgwater on this council and so we are more affected than most by this development!"

SDC voted to adjourn the meeting until Friday, 24th February at 1430 hrs. in the hope that there can be successful negotiations between the Councils and EDF.

Saturday, 11 February 2012



Bridgwater International founder and Labour councillor, Brian Smedley, took part in the launch of a long overdue 'Labour Friends of the Czech Republic' at Portcullis House in Westminster recently and has taken on the role of co-ordinating information amongst other Local Authorities with Czech twinning links and also of organising a Fact Finding trip to the Czech Republic in April 2012 in conjunction with Labours sister party CSSD (Czech Social Democrats).

The Launch meeting was organised by International Labour member  Tanweer Ali, who lives in Prague, and sponsored by Czech born former MP and now Lord Alf Dubbs.  The meeting was also attended by Mike Gapes MP, Former defence secretary Des Browne and various Labour members from both the UK and the Czech Republic.

Brian Smedley said "The trip to the Czech Republic has been set for 10th April and will include 3 nights in Prague - with an optional extra 2 nights in Uherske Hradiste for those that want to extend their stay. The Czech Social Democrats programme will include social events, including mutual discussions on campaigning, visits to CSSD run local authorities ,the Parliament & Senate plus meetings with senior party figures and  Trades Unionists. There will also be plenty of time for sight seeing and general socialising."
Prices for the trip are;- Bristol to Prague (3 nights)             £270
                                     Bristol to Prague & UH (5 nights)   £333
                                     London to Prague (3 nights)           £274
                                     London to Prague & UH (5 nights) £359

Anyone interested should contact Brian asap to book their place. bdsmedley@gmail.com

Tanweer Ali said in a statement after the meeting that the programme plan now for the Labour Friends of Czech Republic would be as  follows;-
Lord Dubbs & Tanweer Ali and the launch of
 Labour Friends of Czech republic

  • At the Labour Party Conference in Manchester we will arrange a gathering for LFCR members to meet with Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) visitors.
Action: TA to coordinate;

  • We will ask CSSD to let our group know when senior politicians and officials from their party are in the UK, with a view to setting up meetings where possible.
Action: TA to coordinate;

  • We will arrange a speaker meeting in London, ideally in the Houses of Parliament, with a high-profile speaker, on a topic of interest, from CSSD later in 2012.
Action: TA to coordinate;

  • We will try to ascertain how many Czechs live in London, and how to reach this community with a view to campaigning in the London mayoral elections.
Action: TA to liaise with CSSD;

  • We will set up a website to introduce our group, include the photograph which we took of participants in the initial meeting and advertise activities.
Action: Sam Beckwith;

  • Trip from Labour Party members to Prague in the first half of 2012.
Action: TA & Brian Smedley;

  • Investigate other town twinning links with the Czech Republic with a view to recruiting other Labour Party members to the group.
Action: Brian Smedley;

  • We agreed that it would make sense to set up a meeting for the Labour parliamentarians attending the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague in November 2012.
Action: TA to liaise with CSSD;

  • Alf Dubs will be in Vienna for an OSCE meeting on 23, 24 February.
Action: TA to identify Czech participants, to set up an informal meeting.

Friday, 10 February 2012

New Blogs launched for Bridgwater Labour wards

Two new web blogs have been set up by Sedgemoor Labour councillors to further empower and inform local residents.

Group leader Cllr Mick Lerry and longstanding Councillor Ken Richards have launched a VICTORIA WARD blog. For further information go to VICTORIA BLOG.

Meanwhile Councillors Brian Smedley and Kathy Pearce have set up the WESTOVER WARD web. For further information go to WESTOVER WEB.