Sunday, 13 April 2014

AFTER THE FLOODS What Future for Somerset in an era of climate change?

Tuesday 22nd April at 7.30pm
GWRSA/Railway Club, 
Wellington Rd, Bridgwater TA6 5HA

Massive floods in Somerset and on the Thames; record-breaking rain; a nation battered by wave after wave of storms; ruined fields; shattered homes, roads and railways; climate change; fracking, Hinkley Point ‘C’, the critical need for green energy. All against a background of government cuts in the Environment Agency, the Fire Brigade and other vital services.

How shall we cope with these environmental challenges?

Can a government committed to permanent austerity really live up to its commitments to deal with these issues?

Concerned? Then come along, listen to different points of view and join in this important discussion

• Julian Taylor (Labour Cllr and Fordgate resident )
• Fire Brigades Union
• Environment Agency
• Kevin Warden(Prospect union & EA workers)
• UNISON speaker (EA workers)
• Theo Simon (Somerset environmental activist )

Meeting organised by Bridgwater Trades Union Council
For further details please contact Dave Chapple: 07707 869 144 /

Saturday, 15 March 2014


Vicky Nash (NUT) Dave Chapple (CWU)
Brian Smedley(UNITE)from Bridgwater
Trades Council

Teachers have been taking to the streets of Somerset to protest against Coalition Government policies that they say threaten the standard of education in all our schools and colleges. Last week the NUT had a stall in Taunton and today it was Bridgwater. They were joined by sympathetic Trades Unionists as they handed out leaflets and balloons , collected signatures of a petition and explained their case.

NUT rep Vicky Nash was on the town’s Cornhill for over 5  hours urging people to contact their MP, send a letter to the local paper and to keep in touch with the campaign as it develops. Vicky explained that the key issue was to try to make Michael Gove, the Tory Education secretary, change course. “Our education system is being undermined. The Coalition say they no longer require schools to employ qualified teachers, they’re rushing through a new curriculum without resources and against the advice of many teachers and introducing expensive and unnecessary new tests for 5 and 11 year olds. They’re reducing young people’s opportunities by trebling tuition fees and abolishing the EMA;and wasting the olympic legacy by undermining sport in schools.They are also creating chaos of parents by allowing neighboruing schools to have different terms dates and school holidays.”

Every Classroom should have a qualified Teacher

Many young mothers were stopping at the stall clearly concerned at stories of their children having to stay at school until late afternoon s  and at the same time worried at the plummeting moral the changes are causing in the teaching staff. Vicky added “We need to ensure that every classroom has a qualified teacher, that councils are allowed to open new schools where they are needed, that changes to the curriculum and to exams are positive and planned, that schools are working together and properly funded and that there are enough new teachers.”

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Bridgwater Trades Union Council welcomes the National Union of Teachers announcement of a national teachers’ strike on Wednesday 26th March and offers full support and solidarity on behalf of all unions in the Bridgwater area.

The dispute is over pay, pensions, conditions of service and the Government’s refusal to listen to teachers’ concerns over excessive workloads and removal of working time limits.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:“Strike action is always a last resort for teachers and we deeply regret the fact that we have been put in a position whereby we have no alternative. The strike action can, of course, be called off. For this to happen, the Secretary of State needs to give reassurances that he will not go ahead with any changes which worsen teachers’ working conditions. "

NUT is organising a street stall in Bridgwater on Saturday 15th March, from 11a, - 3pm at the Cornhill, to inform the public about the reasons for the strike. Please come along to show support .


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Somerset Tories vote through £10,000,000 cuts

Predictably and appallingly the Tory led Somerset County Councillors have agreed that £10,000,000 should be cut from public services. There has been no evidence of any objections from any Tory in the council to this Government sponsored cut- they have been craven in totally accepting what the Tory Party has told them.

            I read in that Linda Vijeh says ‘if we do not tighten our belts we cannot go forward’ WE??? How many of this Tory led council are dependent on busses, home, nursing  and residential care? How many of them are amongst those that will lose their jobs? How many of them are in sheltered housing, or need mental health care or help with learning disabilities?  We?  As always its the poor, disabled and disadvantaged that suffer. I’m reminded by her remark of the discredited ‘all in it together’ fantasy. And how could a proposed amendment to modify these cuts be described as ‘reckless’? And how can these cuts be fair when the Tories do nothing about the billions avoided in tax and keep the billions in unclaimed benefit.

            The council needs to be more transparent. If they are challenging the Government about these cuts then they ought to tell us. And also tell us why they can’t ‘comment’  on the ‘Wheelergate ‘ business, about the CEO’s inflated salary and pay many thousand pounds? And who pays? We need to know. Was it a tiff? A coup?  Incompetence? What?

            This council in this instance  seem determined to ignore serving the people who voted for them and more inclined  to be in thrall to the Nasty Party.
Dave Walsham
NUT Retired member

Monday, 10 February 2014


Bridgwater members of the Somerset People's Assembly will join a lobby of Somerset County Council on Wednesday 19th February at 9.15am, outside Shire Hall, Taunton, organised by Taunton's Anti-Cuts Community Campaign Group.

Councillors will meet to discuss proposed cuts of £30 million to Council services, followed by 3 more years of similar cuts. "Soon there will be nothing left" said People's Assembly spokes-person, Sarah Shaw. "These cuts will mean more job losses, more privatisation, further reduction of services, and closure of facilities, but we'll still go on paying council taxes for non-existent services. What a con!"

It's time for councillors to stand together to call the Government to account. These cuts aren't the result of local councils squandering money, or because they don't know how to cost and deliver services. They are due to continued cuts and underfunding of local councils by central government.

Lobby Government for increased funding

Instead of continuing to be the Government's spineless "hatchet-men", it's time councillors remembered why they were elected in the first place. Local councillors should represent local democracy and carry out the wishes of local people. They must refuse to carry out the proposed cuts and, through the Local Government Association, lobby Government for increased funding for local councuils.

The People's Assembly calls upon the people of Somerset to join the lobby on 19th February, and support the national campaign against cuts and austerity.

CONTACT: G BURROWS 077813 562 869 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bridgwater MP under attack from Trades Unionists over Flooding, Fracking and Under-Funding

ILG gets down and damp amongst his people

Delegates to Bridgwater & District Trades Union Council reacted angrily to the sight of local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger joining flood victims protesting outside the Environment Agency in Bridgwater on Friday. Said a spokesperson:  “Liddell-Grainger would be better off protesting against his own Government which has helped to cause this devastation. How dare he focus the blame on Environment Agency workers, who have struggled to carry out their duties in the face of Government cuts? The Tories have slashed £800 million from the country’s flood defence budget. Why doesn’t Liddell-Grainger protest about that?"
A recent appeal from Somerset County Council for more funding to deal with the devastation to flood-hit communities has been refused by the Government. Why doesn’t Liddell-Grainger sort that out first?”
Proposals recently announced to cut Environment Agency staff levels by a further 15% will mean the Environment Agency will be even less able to protect the public from flooding and pollution risks.

'Crazy Short term thinking'
These cuts follow 20% cuts to flood defence staff between 2010-2013, and come despite growing evidence of the impact of climate change, and the fact that Environment Agency staff dealing with pollution risks are now faced with the challenges of climate change, fracking and new nuclear build. A spokesperson said: "This is crazy, short term thinking."
Across the country, these cuts could end up costing £7.88 billion in flood-related damage.
Instead, Liddell-Grainger reserves his ire for Environment Agency flood defence staff, many of whom have been called out to help flood victims for the second Christmas running. Despite years’ worth of real-term pay cuts, Liddell-Grainger, a direct descendant of Queen Victoria, who owns his own castle and has in the past been criticised for claiming over £100 000 in expenses, calls Environment Agency staff “feather-bedded” on his personal web-site!
The targets of Mr Liddell-Grainger’s action are ordinary workers, many his own constituents.

Public Apology demanded
Bridgwater & District Trades Union Council request that Mr Liddell Grainger issues a public apology for his attack on the staff of the Environment Agency.  Furthermore, we fully support Environment Agency workers in their campaign to stop the cuts, draw attention to the way these cuts may endanger the public and call upon anyone concerned to write to their MP, or email via http// expressing their worries.
A public meeting is being arranged in Bridgwater on 27th February. For details contact Secretary D Chapple 01278 450562

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


A day of action against racism has been called for across Europe on Saturday March 22nd to coincide with the marking of UN Anti-Racism Day in 2014, with eyes on the European elections in May.
Across Europe the fascist and populist racist right are on the rise. From the violent Golden Dawn in Greece, the anti-Roma Jobbik in Hungary, the Islamophobic Freedom Party of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to the success of the Front National in France, these currents are encouraging hatred, fear and prejudice in a frightening wave across the continent.
In Britain the far right is hoping for gains in the Euro elections. The British National Party (BNP) is seeking the re-election of Nick Griffin in the North West and Andrew Brons is seeking re-election in Yorkshire and the Humber. The mainstream political parties look set to capitulate to UKIP in their calls for draconian ‘anti-immigration’ policies and promoting a ‘Little Englander’ anti-foreign, anti-Europe mentality.
This all encourages currents like the English Defence League, which turn their Islamophobic prejudices into real attempts to terrorise the Muslim population – attacking Mosques, assaulting veiled women, insulting religious sensitivities with vile slogans and throwing pigs’ heads, and organising intimidating marches into Muslim communities.
Following the rising violence of Golden Dawn and the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, (also known as Killah P), the Greek anti-fascist and anti-racist movement has proposed that next year’s UN Day Against Race Discrimination on March 21/22 should be the focus for actions against racism and fascism across Europe.
Unite Against Fascism has therefore initiated this call for a demonstration and rally to Stand Up to Racism in London on Saturday 22nd March. The event has been backed by the TUC and most trade unions in the UK.
WE appeal to local trade unions in Bristol to support this rally. In particular we would like to co-ordinate transport from Bristol to London for the day, and to raise money from unions to pay for coach(es). If your union wishes to book a coach please let us know so that we can co-ordinate. Alternatively, if your branch wishes to donate money towards a coach, please forward a cheque made payable to ‘Unite Against Fascism’ and send to PO Box 68229 l London SW1P 9WZ
*Note this account is managed by the CWU HQ (HSBC Bank plc, King’s Cross, 31 Euston Road, London NW1 2ST, account name Unite Against Fascism. Sort code: 40-04-07 account number: 51336460, for the credit of Unite Against Fascism.
Yours fraternally,
Martin Upchurch (Convener, Bristol Unite Against Fascism)