From the Secretary

ByMeraz Aziz

BLACK LIVES MATTER

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”   —— Martin Luther King  

On 25th May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”.  Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis thousands of protests took place worldwide and in the UK. 

To show solidarity, BLM Taunton arranged a peaceful and socially-distant demonstration on 22nd June 2020. It was truly amazing to see so many people turned up, many youngsters spoke out and shared their unique experiences and reflected a solid unity and awareness about BLM issue. Such a community feeling and chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ made the environment really electrifying.

BLM Taunton said — ”A huge thank you to everyone who came and gave such amazing speeches and for all those who showed up and helped create such a supportive atmosphere. It’s so inspiring to see so many likeminded people all gather in search of equality and justice.”

Taunton Dean CLP showed full support to the peaceful BLM Taunton protest and attended the demonstration on that day.

Taunton Dean CLP Chair, Cllr Brenda Weston said — “The best job I ever had was with Equality South West, an organisation that worked with people from across the region whom the Equality Act is supposed to protect from discrimination. We listened to their experiences, wrote these into reports and training materials, we held conferences and took our learning out to organisations across the region.  I think we need to send a message to Boris Johnson from today: we don’t need more research and reports about institutionalised racial discrimination – we need him to act now to put it right.”

Cllr Brenda Weston
Chair, Taunton Dean CLP

Unfortunately, inequality, discrimination and systematic racism still exist in our society and it is very important to stand up for fairness, equality and inclusion. Also, the right to hold a peaceful protest and the freedom of expression are fundamental human rights and an important cornerstone of our society.  

ByMark Wood

Local Election Campaign Launch

We had the great privilege of being joined by the Shadow Environment Secretary, Sue Hayman MP, for our local campaign launch on Saturday morning.

The event began with a members’ meeting where Sue talked through Labour’s environment policy ‘The Green Transformation’, as well as explaining her role as shadow secretary of state, and giving some insights into the Brexit situation from a parliamentary perspective. She then took questions from the floor and discussed issues ranging from Labour’s food policy (which she has direct responsibility for), to the importance of keeping climate change at the top of the agenda, to local issues of housing, transport and air quality and how they require joined-up thinking in relation to environment policy.

Sue praises our local manifesto in her speech

“I was really impressed with your manifesto. There are some cracking policies in there and you should all be really proud to go out there and stand on this basis.”

Sue Hayman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

After the meeting and some photos with local candidates, we headed into the town centre to talk to shoppers about their priorities for Taunton. Many were concerned about the deteriorating town centre, lack of adequate infrastructure and transport, and an increase in crime; all issues covered in our manifesto. Some also came to speak to Sue personally about environmental policy, and we had some good conversations and a lot of positive feedback.

Sue then travelled over to West Somerset to meet the Labour team there and visit some local projects, including the new Watchet Visitor Centre and the Onion Collective.

Sue meets councillors and activists in Watchet

The new district of Somerset West and Taunton needs Labour councillors fighting for Labour principles and policies laid out in our manifesto. Your vote can make that happen.

You can read our manifesto here:

http://tauntondeanelabour.org.uk/manifesto

Vote Labour on May 2nd to #MakeChangeHappen

PS. the event got significant coverage in the County Gazette; you can read it here: https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/17491622.sue-hayman-shadow-environment-secretary-visits-taunton-labour-party/

ByMeraz Aziz

The Windrush Day

June 22nd is officially declared as ‘Windrush Day’ in the UK while we will pay tribute to the outstanding and ongoing contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants. It is a great opportunity for us to come together and remember how the British Caribbean communities played a vital role to rebuild Britain and recover from the post WW2 situation. Windrush day remarks on the anniversary of the arrival of Windrush generation on 22nd June 1948 at Port Tidbury near London. Since then the Empire Windrush and their generation made and continue to make a huge contribution to modern Britain, not only rebuilding the country following the WW2 but also enriching our shared social, economic, cultural and religious life. Their contribution couldn’t be forgotten and will never be, so let’s mark the day and educate the community and our next generation about the great legacy of the Windrush Generation.

ByMark Wood

Liam Canham for Taunton Deane #GE2019

Now that the No Deal threat has been neutralised, Labour at last have the chance to set out our bold vision to transform society for the good of the many, and eject Johnson and his disastrous Government from power.

Last week, Taunton Deane CLP selected the excellent local candidate Liam Canham to stand for Labour in the upcoming General Election, now confirmed by Parliament to be held on December 12th.

Liam Canham Head and Shoulders Pic

Here’s what Liam has to say:

“I have spent the majority of my career working in the public sector, predominantly within the field of social housing and local authority service. As a result, I have seen first hand the damage that core Tory policies, such as welfare reform and wider austerity, have had upon our community. I also have experience volunteering  with the Police across Somerset as a Special Constable and until recently served on the Board of Trustees of a homelessness charity in Taunton.

“Again these experiences have brought me face to face with the resulting consequences of years of Tory austerity, which has adversely affected resources within the public sector to provide fit and proper services such as Adults and Children’s Social Care, a well functioning healthcare system and good quality ‘affordable’ housing to name but a few.

“I joined the Labour Party approximately 4 years ago following my leaving the Police, having been a supporter of the Party’s values for a number of years. Whilst originally I had not planned to take such an active role both within politics and in the party, in those 4 years I have already stood for election both with County and District elections. This has been as a result of our poor representation within Taunton Deane, both from our MP and our Council and the feeling that the people of Taunton Deane deserves better.

“When I look back through the history of Labour governments and the achievements that have been realised, from the establishment of the NHS, ending of the death penalty, the establishment of the Open University (of which I myself am currently benefiting from) and the introduction of the national minimum wage, I feel a sense of sorrow as to where the Tories have taken us over the past 9 years. However, this sorrow ignites a fire within me to fight for the investment in people, investment in services and investment within the country.

“I am extremely proud and indeed humbled to be chosen as the representative for Taunton Deane and vow to do my utmost to fight for Labour representation of Taunton Deane and indeed a Labour government.


Liam would be very happy to answer any questions or hear your thoughts about Labour policies and the upcoming election. His email address is liam.canham@tauntondeanelabour.org.uk

Make sure you are registered to vote: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

You can donate to the local campaign here: https://donate.labour.org.uk/taunton_deane/1

If you would like to get involved on the doorstep, please contact campaigns@tauntondeanelabour.org.uk

Vote Liam Canham for Taunton Deane on December 12th!

ByMark Wood

Candidates List Published

Nominations of candidates standing in the May elections for Somerset West and Taunton Council closed on 3rd April, and the full list has now been officially published.

Find your Labour candidates here >>>

If you haven’t read our manifesto yet, take a look at our detailed plans:

Read our manifesto for Somerset West and Taunton >>

Every single vote matters, so Vote Labour on May 2nd to #MakeChangeHappen, and spread the word amongst your family and friends!

ByBrenda Weston

Let’s Save Taunton’s Main Post Office

Petition link here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/save-taunton-post-office

Update, 2nd April 2019

Some of you may have seen that the Post Office has been granted a temporary stay of execution:

https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/17542228.the-post-office-to-reopen-in-taunton-town-centre/

I went in to see what was going on and spoke with the staff.  It’s in the hands of an interim manager (it seems to be a large corporation that the PO used in 2014 to advise it how to save money!). They are managing it temporarily and looking for another company to take on the franchise. 

The staff are basically working in a very cold, derelict looking cavern of a building, all temporary:

Image taken from the Post Office website. Expectation…
…vs Reality
Staff are working in an otherwise empty building

One of the experienced staff told me that having a PO in shop premises is not a great money-maker, and that they bring in enough to break even, which seems to me fine for an important public service!

I stayed long enough to talk to a number of customers who were all also disgusted with the state of things, and collected more signatures, and wishes for success with the campaign. Lots of agreement it should be in public hands and secure.

So, our petition continues; we ask the council to give this important public service a secure long-term home. Please sign:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/save-taunton-post-office


Original Post, 31st March 2019

“The new Somerset West and Taunton council must save Taunton’s main post office”.  So say Taunton’s Labour candidates, who took to Taunton’s High Street with a petition on Saturday morning.

The “Let’s save Taunton’s Main Post Office” petition aims to use people power on the new council to bid for the franchise to run the post office and provide secure, fit-for-purpose premises, free from the risk of closure.

Labour Councillor Libby Lisgo had raised the issue at a recent Shadow Council meeting.  She said “People are appalled that Somerset’s county town is reduced to having no secure main post office. People living and working in Taunton rely on the crucial services the post office offers, especially ones that they can’t, or aren’t happy to access online.”

The decline of the main post office has come over a period of years, during which staff and the public have had to endure worsening conditions.  Meanwhile the council is looking to commercial ventures – such as the proposed hotel at Firepool – to make up for massive funding cuts from government. 

 “If the council commit public money to building a hotel they should be able to provide Taunton with such a key facility as a full-service post office in the town” said Priorswood candidate Brenda Weston.

The petition is available online at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/save-taunton-post-office and will be available in paper format on request from Brenda Weston 01823 423275.

ByBrenda Weston

The End of Austerity?

This is the text of a letter I sent to the Somerset County Gazette, published (with some slight alterations) on 11th October.  It focuses on Theresa May’s empty claim that austerity has ended and highlights just some of the damage that the Coalition and Tory governments have done since 2010 that it will take a Labour government to repair. But as we know, there is plenty more that the government and our local Tory Councils should also be called to account for…

It would be churlish not to welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of the end of austerity and the dawn of a secure future for the many thousands living on precarious incomes, in insecure homes, or whose disability benefits are put at risk by the deeply flawed Work Capability Assessment regime.

In the PM’s words (Observer October 7) “security for families and the country, freedom under the rule of law and opportunity for everyone -can unite our people and help build a better future for our country”. Well, yes.

But how did we get here? Contrary to the Government’s repeated claim, the economy was recovering from the global banking crisis by 2010. It was a Tory/Lib Dem coalition that ignored Keynesian lessons, choosing instead to strangle the recovery with the harsh and lengthy austerity project that has starved public bodies of resources and continues to hit the poorest hardest.

With great fanfare this Coalition then launched their so-called ‘Red Tape Bonfire’, removing hard-won safeguards against civil rights abuses while slashing Legal Aid so that many thousands of people with limited resources no longer have access to justice.

For an encore, Government rhetoric and actions engineered a ‘hostile environment’, not just for those who look or sound ‘foreign’ but also for anyone in need of support from a welfare state which is itself under severe attack.

So with the end of austerity supposedly in sight perhaps our MP can tell us when can we expect justice for the many in Taunton Deane who are denied it under the seriously discredited Universal Credit system?  How soon will Somerset’s local authorities regain the many millions of pounds cut from their government grants, and rebuild our services?

When will we see the return of proper community policing and our schools getting the resources they need to do the best job they can for our children?  And when can we expect to see our councils using their borrowing powers to build the secure council homes so badly needed?

Investment in good public services is not a profligate use of taxpayers’ money (the poorest are paying taxes through VAT and Council Tax).  It’s the glue that holds the country and communities together and keeps us safe. It’s an investment we make to support our health and wellbeing, to create opportunities for young people, and to prevent unnecessary life crises and suffering.

It’s not ‘extremist’ to want and expect such things, or to call on the wealthiest and the tax avoiders to pay a proportionate share.  It’s fair, it’s sensible and it’s long overdue.

ByMark Wood

Taunton Deane CLP #RebuildingBritain

We were out on Taunton High Street on Saturday, excited about sharing Labour’s positive plan for #RebuildingBritain off the back of a fantastic Conference in Liverpool. See some highlights below…

Video © 2018 Andy Mitchell

ByMark Wood

Rees-Mogg Protest

Taunton Deane Labour Party Members Protest Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Visit to Taunton

On Friday 21 September Jacob Rees-Mogg addressed guests at a charity dinner given at the Castle Hotel by Kit Chapman. Rees-Mogg was the only speaker.

The immensely wealthy Rees-Mogg has supported every cut to council budgets since being elected.

Thanks to the Labour Party member who came all the way from Bathealton to express support for the protest and the family who joined us from East Reach in Taunton.

ByMark Wood

Welcome to Taunton Deane Labour!

Welcome to the home of Taunton Deane CLP on the web. We are in the process of getting content together, so please bear with us. In the meantime feel free to contact us – we’d love for you to get involved!