Following the killing of George Floyd by US Police last week a wave of protest swept not just that country but the whole world. And that includes Somerset. This weekend protests are planned in Bath (Sat 6th June) Yeovil (2pm Sunday 7th June) and Taunton (Friday 12th June). In Bridgwater, Labour councillors have also spoken out following the failure of MP Ian Liddell-Grainger to reply to his constituents. Olivia (22) from Dunwear ward in Bridgwater wrote to Somerset Labour saying “ In light of recent events I emailed the current Bridgwater MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger about the ways in which he can better support the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community in Bridgwater. Unfortunately I have not yet received a response and I do not have high hopes for one, therefore I am copy and pasting the email onto you guys. I will be grateful for any help that your voices can bring to this movement.”
On June 1st some schools in Somerset will be receiving pupils who have not attended school since the Government introduced lockdown. Selected Year groups will be introduced to a different way of working, as social distancing is introduced to their school. Somerset County Council has relied on decisions being made locally at school leadership level while some Multi Academy Trusts have either made an announcement that their schools will be open on a certain date. Labour councillors are not happy with the decision believing it will be an anxious time for parents, carers and the school workforce and are backing teachers unions.
Robin Head Somerset NEU, made their position clear, saying “In line with the BMA and independent SAGE group we feel that wider opening of schools on this date presents a risk to the public which need not be taken. It absolutely agrees with the consensus that children should be in school, as much as soon as they can, however the conditions need to be as safe as they can be.”Continue reading “Somerset Schools coming out of Lockdown-a risk which need not be taken.”
Calls for the resignation of Tory PM Boris Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings are coming in thick and fast from all spectrums of the Political world. Labour Leader Keir Starmer has called for an inquiry into what he calls ‘an insult to the sacrifices made by the British people’ and now 15 Tory MPs have said they want an investigation while some are also calling for his resignation. The spotlight has now turned on Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, who , only last week, recently called for people to ‘use our brains’ and saying “From now on we must behave thoughtfully and intelligently. If a family from Birmingham believe it is ok to drive all the way down to Exmoor for a dose of day-tripping then they really haven’t got the message.” As Tory Inboxes bulge at the seams with anger at the hypocrisy and double standards, Mr Liddell-Graingers constituents are now writing to him for his views
Over the years, the Government has attacked the terms and conditions of the key workers that they now rely upon to keep the economy moving. Rewind the clock back to before this pandemic started, nearly a decade ago in 2010 where the Tory and the Liberal coalition were born and the country saw massive cuts to public services whilst politicians refused to acknowledge NHS staff and with a pay freeze for almost a decade. Any worker to make a stand against the Austerity measures would be demonized as militant and any members of the working class who would join a union which chose to make a stand against austerity would be accused of being a left-wing extremist. Chairman of Yeovil Labour Party, Terry Ledlie, puts in a word for the key workers.
Terry said “In May 2020 the country is in turmoil. We have a Prime Minister Boris who has gone into hiding. Former PM Gordon Brown said in the Daily Mirror recently if he’d taken the same approach as Boris Johnson, he’d have been laughed out of court. Of a Thursday evening we will all go outside and thank our NHS staff and all our key workers, however, the Conservatives will forget their sacrifices. Now when the Government seems to be putting the economy first and health second, gradually with greater quantities of people returning to work, slowly but surely the Government will forget about the workers who sacrificed themselves to bail them out of this crisis. To the conservatives, there will be no need to recognise the bravery of NHS workers and there will be no “key workers” as we will all have returned to work.”
Pay Rise for all Key Workers
Terry continued “There are questions that still must be answered such as, has the Government acted in the best interest of the public or have they acted in the interest of the Billionaires who have been “frustrated” during this crisis due to the risk of their personal wealth instead of the working class.”
Terry is calling on his local MP Marcus Fysh and asking him, “Will you support a pay rise for all key workers in your constituency, as an MP? You have had the luxury of working from home with a significant sum, please could you do the right thing and stop the attacks on key workers and give them the rewards they deserve. “
Terry concluded by saying “And I would encourage every last one of you to contact your local MP’s and request the same”.
As parents and carers anxiously wait to hear as to whether their child’s school will be opening, many will be concerned about the decision they will have to make. For most parents and carers, their major concern will be for the safety of their child. The scientific advice is that there must be an effective test, track and trace system in place, which now does not exist. For many parents and carers, they will be in a position where one child returns to school and another remains at home, because they are in different year groups. For many this will make it an agonising choice and one that many parents and carers will not be willing to make. Labour Councillors have been raising concerns.
The Government must make it quite clear that when they say they are following the Scientific advice and guidance; it is the Government that makes the Political decision. Opening the economy after lockdown is a political decision not a scientific decision. The Government is always saying that they are following the scientific evidence and advice, to try and eradicate the responsibility for what they are saying and the political decisions Government makes.
Bridgwater Town Council Economic Spokesman Cllr Mick Lerry (Labour, Victoria) is angry at the Tory Governments approach and says “We have witnessed the way that Care homes have been treated, with patients being returned from Hospital to Care homes with the virus, no testing took place and Care homes were asked to take residents back. Plus, the real problems of the lack of PPE not being available in the quantities needed. With schools now the political decision has been made to open schools for certain year groups by June. Teacher Unions have asked for the scientific evidence to be produced for this political decision, especially as the British Medical Association supports the teachers’ concerns”.
Tory PM Boris Johnson has made his long awaited announcement laying out a plan for recovery which includes going back to work, but not using public transport, doing more exercise, but just with your family, and then maybe in June schools can open and then in July maybe the hospitality industry can reopen. All provided its safe to do so and if people have self regulated properly. In the meantime the big change is from the original message ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ , ‘ to ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’. Labour Leader Keir Starmer has said the plan ‘lacks clarity and consensus’, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all decided to stick to their own plans. Bridgwater Town Council leader Cllr Brian Smedley said he “listened with increased frustration at the flow of missed opportunities”. Other local Labour leaders were also less than impressed.
Local councils have been massively impacted by the Coronavirus crisis with Government making demands on spending and on services whilst imposing restrictions on public life and at the same time, whilst providing some much needed financial support, there will have to be a major reckoning somewhere down the line. Local Authority leaders were comforted when government minister, Robert Jenrick, stated that he would “do whatever is necessary” to support councils financially through the crisis, but the reality is not working, and without further urgent government funding guarantee, some councils may be subject to section 114 reports, which are essentially bankruptcy notifications, in the next few weeks . Local Labour Councillors have been flagging up their concerns and demanding that Local Government should be recognised as a key driver to get us out of the crisis and into the recovery phase.
Has lockdown given nature the break it needs to recover? In a series of articles West Somerset Branch will look at the natural environment and how it has changed. Liz Passmore, West Somerset’s Fundraising Officer, is a passionate gardener and co-founder of Watchet’s wildflower project. Liz had a chat with her friends far and wide to see how nature has been changing!
After a rainy old Winter, Spring, as it every year, seems even more beautiful than the last, but this year after 6 weeks of the lockdown is there any comparison?. I have asked friends in towns and cities and other continents what they think too. Sadly no one in Antarctica, Africa, Russia or China, but I have managed to charm a few friends with the promise of sweeties when I see them again and they have helped me. Continue reading “Nature Takes Back Control “
The Government has not followed it’s own mantra to protect the NHS and Social Care. While the nation celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, many of those people who took part in the War effort are vulnerable to Coronavirus. In 2017 the Government received a report from Operation Cygnus explaining how the NHS lacked resilience to a major flu pandemic. It was an operation to inform the Government how to make the necessary changes to tackle a pandemic crisis and the lesson was not learnt. Bridgwater Labour Councillor Mick Lerry takes stock of the situation.