1 June 2017
- The pedestrianisation of the centre of Taunton. This will help to maintain the town centre as a place to shop and visit, and will reduce pollution. Where this has been done local shops and businesses have benefited. As you cannot park almost anywhere on the streets in the centre of town there will be no loss of “passing trade”.
- The reopening of Wellington station, providing a mainline connection as well as commuter services between Taunton and Wellington at peak times, taking traffic off the roads.
- The building of social housing at genuinely affordable rents on brownfield sites in Taunton and Wellington, whether built directly as council housing or via social landlords.
- Spending significantly more money on cycling and pedestrians and public transport and less on private car provision. I support the work undertaken by the Taunton Area Cycling Campaign to improve local cycling provision. I want to see more local bus services from villages and surrounding areas to Taunton and Wellington, including the restoration of evening and week-end services.
- Meeting our responsibility to refugees locally, by supporting the work of Citizens UK to enable vulnerable refugees to come to Taunton Deane, and the work of RAFT (Refugee Aid From Taunton).
- Restoring local government and local services by funding them appropriately, including restoring the cuts that have been made to less visible but still vital local provision, such as for the arts, libraries, youth services and help for the homeless.
- Building more schools, particularly primary schools, so that more parents get their first choice of school places.
- Moves to create a University of Somerset.
- Better services for those with mental health issues, including the Somerset Mental Health Hub in raising the third sector's role in supporting our community's health, ceasing to use police cells as places of safety, and investment in preventative support for our community's mental health.
- Somerset's suicide prevention strategy and reducing the numbers and impact of this preventable loss of life. I would champion improving education in schools on mental wellbeing, and investment in young people's mental health, which have not seen enough funding in recent years in Somerset.
- Renewable energy schemes, particularly schemes which generate income for communities.
- The campaign by Arts Taunton and others to improve arts and cultural provision in the town, particularly through the improvement of the Brewhouse theatre and the creation of a cultural quarter by the river.
- The greening of Taunton, including the good work done Longrun Meadow and the new leisure and community centre at French Weir. There should be space for wildlife and for community woodlands in our towns as well as our countryside. We should make more of the Tone River and all its beauty. We should have more facilities including summer boat trips down the river and/or canal - and make more of the waterside footpath walks.
- Moves to increase local self-sufficiency wherever possible, including supporting GM-free, organic, bee-sustaining, farming and horticulture, and I would promote allotments and community supported food supply/procurement schemes.
- The merger of West Somerset and Taunton Deane councils, which will actually cost money in the short to medium term. This is simple political gerrymandering by the Tories, who see themselves as having a permanent majority in the new joint council, and is opposed by the majority of residents.
- The badger cull – which has no evidence to suggest that it is an effective way of controlling bovine TB.
- Building on greenfield sites around the edges of Taunton and Wellington by volume house builders, which is characterised by a lack of infrastructure and community facilities and inadequate public transport.
- Further destruction of local borough and county council services by further cuts to their budgets. We are all dependent on education, housing, transport, social services, etc., and these need to be properly funded from local and national taxation.
- The universally condemned proposals for a new Junction 25A on the M5, which does not give people in Ruishton the bypass they need but is mainly concerned with the creation of a 1980s style “business park” at the side of the motorway. These were all the rage 30 years ago but the priority now is to keep jobs and services in the town centre, not move them away from it.
- The grotesquely expensive white elephant which is Hinkley C. This technology is not working at the two sites where identical reactors are being built, one now being 7 years behind schedule, the other 8 years behind schedule. Even if it is ever built the electricity it produces will be extortionately expensive. The money spent on it could create many more jobs if it were put into renewable energy generation and home insulation.
- Reductions in NHS services, and I am very sceptical about the Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). These STPs are widely thought to see further reductions in NHS services including the number of hospital beds, and assume huge amounts in “efficiency savings”.
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Taunton Deane