1. On Your Side

Bishops Lydeard and Cothelstone Parish Councillor.

District Councillor for the South Quantock Ward.

County Councillor for the Lydeard Division.

Having served as the county councillor for Lydeard for nine years, I have been selected by the Liberal Democrats to stand in the Lydeard Division in the elections to be held on 5th May 2022.  These elections will be unique in that the councillors elected will, for 11 months, serve firstly as county councillors and then, from 1st April 2023, as unitary councillors.  As you may have heard, all four district councils in Somerset will merge with the county council to form a single, new, principal council for Somerset.  Each county division will elect two councillors, giving a total of 110 councillors for the new council.  My Liberal Democrat running mate is Andy Sully, who currently serves as one of the three district councillors for Staplegrove and also Norton Fitwarren, which sits within the Lydeard division.  When the new council begins on 1st April 2023, the county council and the district councils will cease to exist and the district councillors will cease to hold office.  It is vital that we take control of the county council in May.  We all saw what a hash the Conservatives made of merging West Somerset District Council with Taunton Deane Borough Council and we cannot let them make a smilar mess of shaping the new Somerset Council.

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January 5th, 2022

I’m really pleased that after many years’ work, the speed limit across much of Bishops Lydeard is being reduced to 20mph. Speeding traffic in the village has been a longheld concern. The consultation undertaken by the Parish Council also demonstrated widespread support for a reduced speed limit and together we have for some years worked with Somerset County Council to explore how to implement a 20mph limit. Despite their claims to being in a strong financial position, the County Council said that it did not have the funds to make the change. Ultimately, the Parish Council stepped in and paid for the works and I am indebted to the Parish Council for doing that.

While this move will be beneficial, it will not solve all of our speeding problems and that’s why the Parish Council has been consulting on a range of physical measures to both improve the public space in the village AND reinforce the new speed limit. Again, the Parish Council will be funding these works due to the county council’s constrained finances.

I am aware that the 20mph zone leaves some areas of the village with their existing higher speed limits, principally those parts of the village to the west of the A358, in the vicinity of Greenway. It was not possible to include those areas in the new 20mph zone because existing speeds are too high. I know that this is disppointing for residents of that area as well as appearing slightly perverse; that the area with the highest existing speeds cannot benefit – I’m afraid that’s national rules. I have asked engineers to examine what can be done in this location in order to reduce vehicle speeds and will report back soon. It is particulalry frustrating that the former Taunton Deave Borough Council allowed Taylor Wimpey to avoid their earlier requirement to erect traffic signals on the railway bridge. While I know that the plan was not universally popular, it would inevitably have reduced vehicle speeds in this area or could have been traded for other traffic calming measures. An opportunity lost.

The work to complete the new 20mph zone will proceed over the coming days and will come into effect in the next week or so.