MP attacks Somerset County Council
Speaking in the Commons yesterday the MP for Bridgwater and Somerset West was in fine form. Attacking Somerset County Council for promoting a unitary council. Mr Liddell Grainger also took a swipe at Minehead Town Council while he was at it. This is how Hansard records his remarks:
“I know that my right hon. Friend, because he is a sensible fellow, did not visit Minehead funfair a few days ago. The idea that Minehead Town Council could actually have a funfair at this time is daft, stupid and dangerous. As my right hon. Friend is aware, infection rates in Somerset are going up, but Somerset County Council’s public health department has not acted to stop it; in fact, it has not done anything. I am afraid to say that the county council is far too busy fighting to form a half-baked unitary authority without the backing of the people of Somerset. I am afraid that promoting this ridiculous idea and using £1 million of public money to do so may cost us lives, and, as has already been mentioned, King Alfred would not tolerate it. Could we have a debate on some of the more stupid things that councils are doing during this appalling situation?”
We already know that Mr Rees-Mogg is a little wobbly when it comes to history*. It seems that Mr Liddell Grainger also wobbles a bit in this territory. Whether or not SCC is indeed spending £1m on promoting their plans for a unitary we cannot confirm. King Alfred’s views of it we can. He does not opine on Somerset County Council in Asser’s work (there are good reasons for this). Which as the only contemporary source of the life of King Alfred is unfortunate. Perish the thought that the MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset is making this up as he goes along.
If he has not studied the work of Asser, it also seems he has not studied the spending of the District Councils. Mr Liddell Grainger supports the Stronger Somerset plans proposed by the District Councils. Certainly he disapproves of SCC spending £1m promoting their plan. But is he really unaware that the District Councils are prepared to spend the same amount promoting theirs?
We have yet to hear confirmation from South Somerset and Mendip. But so far Somerset West & Taunton and Sedgemoor have each pledged £250k to promote the Stronger Somerset case. So it rather looks as if £1m is on the cards. What Mr Liddell Grainger could have made a point without being partisan.
That point is that spending anything on this is wrong. The business case for each side has been made. Spending £2m more by any of our councils is arguably a waste. The money could be better spent on delivering services. In that respect, Mr Liddell Grainger has a point.
*in case anyone is bothered by these things: Rees-Mogg declared Brexit to be “This is the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Phillip II at Le Goulet in 1200.” Apparently unaware, or perhaps as a good Catholic choosing not to be aware, that the greatest act of vassalage ever undertaken by this country was just 13 years later in 1213 at Dover when John gave up the entire Kingdom as vassal to the Pope.