After the Election …

You may have wondered what’s happening. After six weeks of non-stop door-stepping by John and I, accompanied by leaflets and papers galore, you’ve not heard a peep for days.
We’re currently busy forming the administration, confirming leadership and who will get various key jobs. This takes a little longer than it does at “Number 10” because we have no staff and many of your councillors have “day jobs”. Instead, we are doing this by phone, e-mail and informal meetings.
On the 19th you’ll see the Council AGM in my diary. This is the final stage of that process where the positions, such as the ten members of the Executive (or Cabinet), are formally confirmed by full Council. Watch this space.
Until then, officers of the Council are continuing to work for the existing team.

The Election results here in Brympton

I am pleased to say that after a tough campaign, John and I remain your District Councillors.

Now that we know the full story, it’s clear we were right to be worried. A very effective campaign led by Graham Pritchard (who also enjoyed a very strong personal following in the ballot) meant that part way through the day we were neck-and-neck and Brympton’s two seats meant that control of the Council was in serious doubt.

In the late afternoon, both sides went all out to find their missing voters and some people (especially neighbours and friends) had a very unexpected late evening knock on the door. I even met Veronica doing my own street.

The response we got to the “knock-up” was brilliant and the last, crucial 133 votes were all cast in the last hour, with the very last voter arriving at 9:58 pm!

The results are:

  1. Peter Seib, 1123 votes
  2. John Richardson, 925 votes
  3. Graham Pritchard, 792 votes
  4. Veronica Venables, 702 votes

With good weather and both parties trying hard, turnout was a full 8% of the electorate up on the 2007 election.

John and I would particularly like to thank all those kind people who took a moment to say a friendly word on the doorstep, or at the Polling Station after casting their vote. “Feel-good” moments are rare in politics and those personal thanks are the best of the best.

The SSDC elections have, happily, resulted in no change in political control.

  • Liberal Democrat seats – 31 – (loss of 6 seats.)
  • Conservative Party seats – 25 – (gain of 8 seats.)
  • Independent seats – 4 – (loss of 2 seats.)

Key here in Yeovil is the loss of two seats in Yeovil South (due to the vote being split with Labour and the Green Party) and one in the Cokers (under an unwarranted fear of development). For the first time in a while, there will be three Conservatives on SSDC’s Area South Committee. My main fear is that the collaborative, cross-bench working which South Somerset is famous for may be the price we pay for this power struggle.

Other than that we had a fairly robust result and South Somerset DC remains the blob of orange on the UK local government map.

The results for the 39 district wards, showing the number of votes given to each candidate and who was elected for each ward, are on SSDC’s Local elections results page. The district turnout was 47.66%.

John and I will now move on to deliver our pledges and to serve all of you to the best of our ability.

Peter Seib, 6th May 2011

AMCC thinking about renewables

Both John Richardson and I sit on the management committee for the Abbey Manor Community Centre, which meets roughly every six weeks ate the moment.

When AMCC was refurbished, the opportunity was taken to bring insulation up to current standards. Air source heat pumps were also fitted to both the new Parish Room and to the main hall. Although these are really powerful, the Committee now needs to optimise the settings to minimise our fuel bills.

Another “green” initiative has been to investigate Solar Cells for the roof to take advantage of the available Feed In Tariff and hopefully to make some money once the investment has been returned. Although the AMCC roof is well positioned, the Abbey Community Association decided it didn’t want to get into one of the “roof rental” schemes as the Centre would be unlikely to benefit much. ACA are now looking at other funding options.

When the Renewable Heat Incentive was confirmed by Climate Change Minister, Chris Huhne, we also decided to investigate whether solar panels could provide the hot water which the centre needs. As you can see, the plumbing is quite “dated” and with work it should mean a much better supply of hot water for the kitchens and washrooms. We think this is very easily done, watch this space.

You’ll notice Councillor Richardson is pictured doing a survey. John’s experience designing and installing solar systems for Soltrac has been invaluable to the Committee. Those who suspect a conflict of interests can rest assured that the Association will use an open tendering process in due course.

Into Somerset and the Paragon Story

Last year, I went to Ross-on-Wye to persuade the family running Paragon Laundry to invest here, in Brympton. I believe that creating employment opportunities is an important thing for local authorities to do, whether it’s by allocating land, promoting the area, building industrial estates or, as in this case, lobbying. Letting entrepreneurs create jobs relieves the misery of unemployment and drives the economy forward.

Throughout the downturn, I made sure that SSDC was supporting start-ups and helping existing business to grow … but these are both slow ways to create new jobs so we set up Into Somerset to find successful businesses like Paragon wanting to re-locate. Into Somerset is an “inward investment” partnership set up between all the councils in Somerset. It promotes Somerset to business leaders wanting to re-locate.

Paragon will start operating in Yeovil this summer with around 80 jobs including operators, engineers, drivers, sales staff and management. With a capacity of up to 600,000 items a week, the laundry will initially service hotels from Peignton to Pool and from Bristol to Andover. Next year the second phase will bring more capacity introducing their prestige brands to service “boutique” hotels. Eventually, the operation could see as many as 200 people here in Yeovil, and possibly spin-off businesses in the immediate area.

… and yes, I did claim the mileage!

Reporting Back

Election season will soon be under way. Coincidentally, John and I have been getting around to an “update” Focus (Click here to see it). Our MEP, Graham Watson produces a very effective “Reporting Back” leaflet at least once a year. We had fine ambitions to do the same, but time is very much against you when you’re trying to work and to be a councillor at the same time. Still, we have some very good news to share, so here it is at last.

The back-story is very interesting. People often assume that local government is a fairly sleepy enclave but in this case, a very switched-on officer spotted the faint possibilites and worked tirelessly to develop the remote possibility into what’s become a significant investment. Planning was always going to be an issue and by acting as an advocate I got the design improved a lot. We also had a very quick determination because the relevant facts were known (although I had to stand back from the actual decision making, having so strongly promoted the move). Working seperately is one of the strengths of having two councillors, we often have one of us pushing a change and the other sitting ready to represent Brympton residents in the actual decision making (and no, we don’t always agree!!).

If you would like to help during the election (which will probably be announced in 2 weeks), then there are buttons at the top right hand side of this page. We need people to fold and stuff envelopes, and people to help deliver. It’s only a half hour or so to deliver leaflets to your street, so why not …?