Apathy wins in South Somerset

Change is afoot. In the next 2 years, we will see the creation of a unitary authority for Somerset and the demise of district councils. Never has the role of parish and town councils been more important. Expect to see increasing responsibility and increasing budgets for the lowest tier of local government.

The opportunities ahead have failed to inspire the people of South Somerset to put their names forward. Today’s nominations for all the town and parish councils across Somerset were published. So few candidates came forward that the vast majority of communities will have no election at all. Outside of the highly politicised councils in Yeovil, Crewkerne and Chard (where all bar one ward in Yeovil will be contested) just 8 parish and town councils will hold elections.

These will be in:

  • Buckland St Mary
  • Chaffcombe
  • Henstridge
  • High Ham
  • Huish Episcopi
  • Shepton Montague
  • Stoke sub Hamden (Stoke ward)
  • Wincanton

Wincanton is prominent among these, having 25 candidates chasing just 15 seats. The council has had major staffing issues and a constant turnover of clerks. There have been other issues around good governance and competence which we have reported in The Leveller®. A non political council to date, a party has now coalesced around council Chair Sue Shelbourn-Barrow called Wincanton Forward. They have put forward 12 candidates out of the 25 standing.

Elsewhere the struggle to get any candidates at all has been the problem. Spare a thought for Philip Varney of Ashill. He is the sole candidate. On the plus side he is definitely elected. On the down side? There are 7 seats on Ashill Council and he’s the only councillor. Similar problems afflict Drayton Council (2 candidates for 5 seats) Pitney (2 for 7 seats) and Tintinhull (3 from 9).

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  • I resigned from being a parish councillor after a sustained campaign of abuse including slanderous accusations from a neighbour and vicious phone calls. The petty bureaucracy involved in operating at parish level was unbelievable. So I am not surprised people do not put themselves forward!

  • I chaired Long Sutton PC for a year or so; in the absence of any other volunteer. I echo the comment about too much needless bureaucracy. I did not have to endure any malicious behaviour, thank goodness

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