'One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors,' Plato
Fox on flying from Bristol
North Somerset MP Liam Fox has spoken out on the plans to expand Bristol Airport - be it 18 months after they were published - and it is nothing to do with his Tickenham home being directly under the flight path.
The controversial plans would see the airport able to handle 12 million passengers a year, up from its capacity of 10 million.
It includes proposals to build a covered pedestrian walkway at the front of the building, more parking spaces and changes to the road layout on the site.
And this comes from an MP who in 18 months in 2017-2018 clocked up 219,000 air miles visitng 27 countries on government business, according to The Telegraph newspaper.
The airport scheme has proved highly controversial with neighbouring communities and climate campaigners and the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE) group has said giving the green light to the expansion scheme would be a life sentence for villages neighbouring the airport.
Last week it was announced that North Somerset Council planning officers have recommended the application for approval.
The application has 5,400 objections and 2,200 letters of support.
In a letter to the chief executive of North Somerset Council, the Conservative MP has raised a number of concerns about the expansion plans under the headings local economy, transport infrastructure, parking and noise.
A final decision on the plans will be made at a special meeting of the council’s planning committee on Monday, February 10.
The meeting will start at 6pm at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall.
Here is Dr Fox's letter to North Somerset Council chief executive Jo Walker in full:
Dear Mrs Walker, I know that North Somerset Council will shortly be examining plans for the expansion of Bristol International Airport. I wish to make the following observations to this issue and would be grateful if they could be included.
BRISTOL AIRPORT EXPANSION
Bristol International Airport has been a great amenity and facility for our region and its people, including those in my constituency of North Somerset. It has improved our transport links, especially to Europe, and has been particularly popular with leisure travelers, including those taking family holidays. From a small regional hub it has successfully transformed into a genuinely international airport and has supported a large number of jobs both directly and indirectly.
Despite the difficulties that result from its natural topographical position and lack of direct transport links, the 2011 planning permission allows the airport to expand to 10 million passengers per annum. It is clear, however, that expansion cannot continue indefinitely so the question becomes one of balance. What is a reasonable limit for expansion that will ensure, on one hand, the viability of the airport and potential support for the local and regional economy without, on the other, creating undue pressure on the local environment and its population?
In its consultation document, “Aviation 2050: the future of UK aviation”, the government set out a number of aims and tests for regional aviation.
In terms of the local economy the document pointed out that “airports can directly support thousands of jobs and generate economic benefits beyond the airport fence. Core and specialist aviation services, freight companies, logistics hubs and aerospace investment are often located close to airports, creating jobs in the local area. Regional airports also act as wider magnets attracting non-aviation businesses due to the air connections the airport offers but also the strong road and rail access links that support the airport. They act as a gateway to international opportunities for the regions of the UK”.
It is undoubtedly true that airports not only support jobs directly but can indirectly stimulate the local economy creating new companies and more employment opportunities. However, there are major restrictions on road access links in the case of Bristol airport and there are no rail access links at all.
A second aim set out in the document states that “the government recognises the importance of rebalancing the UK economy through the economic growth of the regions and ensuring that the UK remains competitive after we leave the EU. Through the Industrial Strategy, the government has set out its ambition to create a geographically-balanced economy that works for everyone”.There are few, if any, who do not want to see a rebalancing of the economy across the UK, but one of the key issues that Bristol airport needs to address is the very small number of business passengers, as a proportion of the total, who pass through the airport. The proximity of London Heathrow with its far more frequent services and wider range of destinations makes it a much more natural entry and exit point for business travellers. This is likely to become more so as the newly improved rail service from Bristol is connected directly with Heathrow. It is hard therefore to make the case that expansion of Bristol airport would lead to an improvement in the regional economy. It is highly likely that major international investors will continue to come via London, not least because of its world leading financial services.
LOCAL TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE
Perhaps the single biggest impediment to expansion passenger numbers at Bristol airport is the local transport infrastructure. Our historical legacy, for a number of reasons, is that our major transport routes run from north to south – the M5, A370 and A38. There are no major West to East roads and so passengers coming to the airport have to travel through local towns and villages where there has been a major impact on road traffic. This is unavoidable when around 85% of Bristol airport passengers come by road transport. Figures produced by the airport show the following regional distribution for its passengers: West of England 35%, South Wales 20%, Devon 14%, Somerset 10%, Gloucestershire 7%, Wiltshire 7%, Cornwall 5%, Dorset 2%.
This means that a large number of passengers have to come via the M5 and leave at junctions 18, 19, 20 and 21. New restrictions in Bristol on air pollution from vehicles is likely to increase the amount of traffic using junctions 19 (already overcrowded due to the considerable expansion of Portishead), 20 and 21. This will mean considerable additional pressure on local roads which will have knock-on effects on roadside pollution and potentially on road safety where local schools are situated adjacent to main roads.
It seems that the lack of road transport is the most important rate limiting step in potential expansion. It is difficult to envisage the level of improved road provision that would change this position or how much it might cost the taxpayer. A rail link is highly unlikely due to the topography and improved bus links from central Bristol will not be effective given the geographical starting point of passengers.
If this problem cannot be solved, it is difficult to see how further expansion beyond the current limit of 10 million passengers could be justified.
Modern aircraft have become much quieter and future technological change should improve the position even further. While aircraft noise is not an issue for the vast majority of passengers who use Bristol airport and usually not an issue for most North Somerset residents, it can produce a significant reduction in the quality-of-life for those who live directly under the flight path or adjacent to the airport itself. There has been a recent pattern of routinely setting noise caps as part of planning approvals (for increase in passengers or flights). Limiting the impact of noise must be a major consideration when determining the potential expansion of passenger numbers at Bristol airport.
The government’s consultation document states that “the aim is to balance noise and growth and to provide future certainty over noise levels to communities. It is important that caps are subject to periodic review to ensure they remain relevant and continue to strike a fair balance by taking account of actual growth and the introduction of new aircraft technology. It is equally important that there are appropriate compliance mechanisms in case such caps are breached and the government wants to explore mechanisms by which airports could ‘pay for’ additional growth by means of local compensation as an alternative to the current sanctions available “.
Government plans will require all major airports to set out a plan which commits to future noise reduction, and to review this periodically. This would only apply to airports which do not have a noise cap approved through the planning system and would provide similar certainty to communities on future noise levels. The government wants to see better noise monitoring and a mechanism to enforce these targets as for noise caps.
The noise action planning process could potentially be developed to provide the basis for such reviews, backed up by additional powers as necessary for either central or local government or the CAA. In order to help facilitate these changes the government has established a new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise. ICCAN will advise the government on best practice on noise mitigation, and how the needs of affected communities can best be served in the airspace modernisation programme. The government has committed to review ICCAN’s powers within two years and this will include the possibility of putting it on a statutory footing. I would support this as I believe it has the potential to act as an empowering mechanism for local communities in the future.
One of the most controversial aspects of the current expansion to 10 million passengers at Bristol airport relates to parking at the airport itself and its impact on local villages. Until the full parking facilities, promised by the airport’s owners and management, which were part of the previous conditions on expansion are met, it is reasonable to rule out any further expansion. The net effect of inadequate parking provision within the airport perimeter has been the displacement of parking into illegal sites, including on greenbelt, which has been difficult and expensive for the local authority to police. Residents of local villages have seen airport passengers park outside their properties, often for long periods, and use taxi services to and from the airport. The development of a substantial park-and-ride facility adjacent to the M5, which has been proposed and which I support, could see not only improved parking opportunities but would enable the use of more environmentally friendly transport with far fewer vehicle movements through adjacent villages and residential areas.
These issues are all directly applicable to this particular planning process and do not take account of generic issues surrounding aviation which are widely discussed elsewhere. It is essential that these specific problems are addressed by airport authorities and North Somerset Council before any decision on Bristol Airport Limited’s current planning application is taken.
NEW YEAR'S HONOUR: North Somerset MP Liam Fox has congratulated Ione Douglas on receiving an MBE in the New Years’ Honours List for Public, Political and Parliamentary services during the past 50 years. Ione has worked for Dr Fox and the constituents of North Somerset for more than 20 years. However, Ione first started working for the Conservative Party in 1966 and has worked for several notable politicians such Cecil Parkinson, Major Sir Hugh Fraser, Sir Bill Cash, Lord (John) Cope and William Waldegrave before starting work for Dr Fox in 1998. Dr Fox said “I am absolutely delighted that Ione’s outstanding and relentless hard work to public service has been recognised in this way. I have held over 450 surgeries and seen over 8,000 individual constituents since becoming an MP and I cannot count the number of constituents who have written or come to one of my surgeries who have later thanked me for all the work Ione has done on their behalf." Many Nailsea people joined in the congratulations on the Nailsea People Facebook page including Richard Hendricks who said: "Absolutely brilliant Mrs Douglas has been so helpful to my daughter in particular over the last few years if ever an award was deserved it is this one. Congratulations Ione you’re a star!" and Courtenay Collins who said: "Ione, you help me get back one my feet and back to work. So it’s well deserved. Thank you."
General election 2019
The Conservatives have won their biggest majority since 1987 in the 2019 general election.
North Somerset returned Liam Fox to parliament with more votes than ever.
The Conservative won 52.9 per cent of the vote.
he MP served as Secretary of State for International Trade from 2016 to 2019 and Secretary of State for Defence from 2010 to 2011.
His vote share is down 1.3 per cent from the 2017 election.
Dr Fox now has a comfortable majority of 17,536.
Dr Fox tweeted his thanks to Conservative voters while thanking his team and staff on duty at Hutton count he also magnanimously thanked fellow candidates saying their willingness to fight in this ‘safe seat’ is what makes democracy function.
Labour's Hannah Young was his nearest rival and she got 24.6 per cent of the vote with 15,265.
This was two per cent lower than in 2017, reflecting the national poor performance from Labour.
Boris Johnson has returned to power as Prime Minister with a huge majority, after winning scores of seats off Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.
Liam Fox (Conservative): 32,801
Hannah Young (Labour): 15,265
Ashley Cartman (Liberal Democrat): 11,051
Phil Neave (Greens): 2,938
Liberal Democrat Ashley Cartman got 11,051 votes in North Somerset with 17.8 per cent.
This was an increase of 8.2 per cent for the Liberal Democrats locally on a night when the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in East Dunbartonshire.
The Green candidate Phil Neve got 4.7 per cent with 2,938 votes.
This was a small increase of 1.5 per cent for the Green candidate.
The turnout in Somerset North was 77.4 per cent of the 80,194 registered voters up four per cent from 2017.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson promotes Nailsea man and former army officer the MP for Wells James Heappey to Minister for Defence Procurement.
SCHOOL HUSTINGS: Backwell School hustings proved to be a lively debate on Tuesday lunchtime for sixth form students when candidates Ashley Cartman (Lib Dem). Phil Neve (Green) and Hannah Young (Labour) came to answer questions. Liam Fox (Conservative) couldn't make this date. Subjects centred on Brstiol Airport expansion, tax avoidance, tuition frees and Brexit.
Nailsea Churches Together hosted hustings on Tuesday night with all four North Somerset candidates.
Nailsea People is told this was also lively with Dr Fox actually getting 'heckled' and Dr Young giving a sterling performance which was reported by a Green Party supporter who said 'she is amazing, great credentials, great talker and if anyone can look after herself it’s a woman with a black belt.'
However most conceded the audience was 'loaded' by people with left-wing leanings.
Meantime Dr Fox has been campaigning hard and Facebook commentators have been lamenting the opposition vote has been split between three worthy opponents.
One campaign group has developed a 'ranking' for MPs called the People Power Index.
Petition hosting website change.org has developed a scoring system based on a number of factors, including how 'available' an MP has been, Parliamentary participation and campaigning efforts from 2017-19.
And guess what the Nailsea ex-Army man who ousted Lib Dem Tessa Munt at the last election hasn't fared well.
Here are some of the people we know and their rankings:
5th Tracey Crouch - Chatham and Aylesford (Conservative)
42nd Liam Fox - North Somerset (Conservative)
365th John Penrose - Weston-super-Mare (Conservative)
633rd James Heappey - Wells (Conservative)
To read the rankings in full click HERE.
ALTOGETHER NOW: General Election Husting for the North Somerset Constituency is on Tuesday, December 3, at Nailsea Methodist Church, Silver Street. Doors open 6.30pm, husting starts 7pm prompt. Questions in advance by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
SEASIDE COUNT: Dr Liam Fox MP is cross that North Somerset Council isn't holding the General Election count in his constituency. Instead the former GP will have to trapse down to Weston-super-Mare to hear the result declared.
Dr Fox said “It seems to me they will need the same number of people to do the counting simultaneously whether they are in the same location or not.
The North Somerset seat has been held by Dr Fox who lives at Tickenham for the Conservatives, since 1992.
In his election leaflet he says his priortites are:
Get Brexit Done - end the uncertainty, it is time to stop dithering and start to focus on our future relationship with the EU
A Strong Economy - locally and nationally. Only a strong economy built on sound finances with provide the spending on policing, education and health that we want to see and the investment on the vital infrastructure that we need
Balanced Housing for North Somerset - getting young people on the housing ladder but that new housing must be matched with infrastructure or exisitng communities will see their quality of life reduced
Ann Tarr, who lives in Portishead, withdrew as the candidate for the Brexit Party as requested by leader Nigel Farage.
Labour ready to fight Fox
North Somerset Labour Party has selected Hannah Young, a Clevedon town councillor, and a black belt at karate to challenge Conservative MP Liam Fox for the seat at the next election.
More than 700 party members were invited to a hustings at Clevedon Community Centre to choose from five candidates from North Somerset, Weston-super-Mare and Bristol.
Hannah has lived in the constituency for more than14 years and worked locally in police, health and mental health services.
For four years she also volunteered at a charity supporting homeless people.
Hannah saidf: "I’m excited to have the chance to give North Somerset residents a new voice in Parliament to advocate for our local communities.
"I’ve spent many years working to ensure that people continue to have access to good local services throughout the period of austerity.
"One thing I love about living in North Somerset is that people give so much of their time and energy to maintaining and improving our communities.
"But I am saddened that we still see big inequalities in access to housing, education, health and care.
"We now need stronger national action to help us to address the huge challenge of climate breakdown and to invest in the core services that enable people to build happy and fulfilled lives.'
North Somerset Labour Party chair Angela Everitt said: "I’m delighted that our parliamentary candidate is a local young woman who has such strong experience of working within our communities.
"As a fellow councillor on Clevedon Town Council, I’ve been really impressed to see the way that Hannah advocates for local people as well as bringing her professional expertise to chairing the Finance and General Purposes Committee.'
Hannah, aged 46, has also worked locally in police, health and mental health services.
She has a law degree and doctorate in mental health law and criminal justice.
Hannah worked in policing from 2007-17, first with Avon & Somerset Constabulary coordinating development of community engagement, partnership working and service improvement.
There, in response to austerity, Hannah devised and led a programme of work, Public First, to preserve frontline policing services in the context of significant government cuts.
She went on to head transformation and the corporate services at Gloucestershire Police, where she was also the executive board lead for finance, people, staff wellbeing and environmental sustainability.
In 2017 Hannah became a non-executive director of North Somerset Community Partnership, which runs local community health services.
Since 2018 Hannah has run her own business providing support to ‘not-for-profit’ social enterprises, charities and community organisations to grow their services and sustainability.
Through this, she has recently managed implementation of a local mental health service in North Somerset and supported set-up of a new homelessness and complex needs service in Somerset.
Hannah is also a director of not-for-profit enterprise that supports young people from less advantaged areas into employment.
And as an associate member of the Association of Special Constabulary Officers she supported the volunteer group becoming a national charity.
In her spare time, Hannah is a keen walker and can often be seen with husband and much-loved dog Ricky on the coast path, in the Gordano Valley, or along the rivers and rhynes.
Lib Dem ready to fight Fox
RESULTS FOR 2010
Conservative Dr Liam Fox 28,549
Liberal Democrat Brian Mathew 20,687
Labour Steve Parry-Hearn 6,448
UKIP Sue Taylor 2,257
RESULTS FOR 2015
Conservative Party - Liam Fox, 31,540
Labour Party - Greg Chambers 8,441
UKIP Ian Kealey 7,669
Liberal Democrat Marcus Kravis 7,486
Green David Derbyshire 3,806
RESULTS FOR 2017
Conservative Party - Liam Fox, 33,605 votes
Labour Party - Greg Chambers 16,502 votes
Liberal Democrats - Richard Foord, 5,982 votes
Independent - Donald Davies 3,929 votes
Green Party - Charley Pattison 1,976 votes
The Liberal Democrats aren’t waiting for a general election to be called and launched its North Somerset campaign in a Nailsea pub on Friday night.
North Somerset councillor Ashley Cartman announced he will stand for the seat held by Conservative MP Liam Fox since1992.
More than 60 people turned up to the meeting at the Old Farmhouse to hear that in the political opinion polls Ashley is only two percent behind Dr Fox.
Buoyed by the district council elections when the Conservatives were almost routed, defeated Tory council leader Nigel Ashton blamed central government and not least the Brexit fiasco for the bad showing of his party in local elections.
Ashley set out his ambitions to represent the North Somerset seat in Parliament, which controversially voted 52.4 per cent to remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum; a fact he said that has never been fully acknowledged by its incumbent Brexiteer MP, Dr Fox.
In a speech to launch his candidacy, Ashley told party members that it is time for North Somerset to have a Parliamentary member who is prepared to be a strong voice for North Somerset, standing up for the values, beliefs and needs of its constituents.
Members were excited by the latest YouGov opinion poll which puts Lib Dem support in North Somerset at 33 per cent, just two percent behind Liam Fox on 35 per cent.
Ash is 46, is married with four children aged between 12-18 and the family live at Long Ashton.
Two of the teenagers now at St Mary Redcliffe, went to school in Backwell up to GCSEs.
The chartered accountant told his audience in Nailsea: “We all deserve better from our MPs.
“I want my candidacy to represent a significant shift towards delivering on the public demand for transparency and trust in politics, and I will work to deliver a brighter, fairer future for all.
“Let’s reimagine a future that takes this country in a different direction - one that inspires and motivates people to work together, instead of against one another.
“Let’s put green policies at the heart of government, and measure success not just by GDP but on the basis of wellbeing.”
He went on to talk about his position on important local issues, opposing further expansion of Bristol Airport on the grounds of a climate emergency, arguing for fairer funding for our schools. And supporting improved rail transport links into Portishead.
Ashley Cartman joined the Lib Dems in 2010 and has been a parish councillor since 2017.
He was elected to North Somerset Council in May 2019 and is part of the executive team responsible for the council finances.
On the thorny question of Brexit he said: “Even though my instinct is to seek compromise and to have another public vote - any general election called prior to leaving the European Union will effectively be that vote, and the Liberal Democrats have always been the party of remain, so we must offer voters that choice.”
“The results can then give an updated mandate on the county’s wishes, more than three years after the referendum on EU membership.
“I would particularly encourage younger voters to get registered to vote and have their say, as many will not have been old enough to vote in the referendum but now have the chance to make their voices heard on Brexit in the next general election.”
Any Questions? asked by Backwell School audience
It was a very polite, packed to the rafters audience for the BBC Radio 4 Any Questions edition which was broadcast live from Backwell School on Friday night, October 4.
There was enthusiastic clapping and some cheering throughout with any booing saved until the very last for just one controversial panellist.
On the panel was Brexit leader Nigel Farage MEP, Labour Party shadow secretary of state for international trade Barry Gardiner, award-winning author Jeanette Winterson and in a late swap Conservative Party justice secretary Robert Buckland QC instead of Tory MP Nicky Morgan MP with no reason given.
Headteacher Jon Nunes welcomed everyone and said this was a very prestigious event for the school ranked as one of the top state schools in the country.
Before the pre-broadcast warm-up was done by a former member of the Any Questions small production team who happened to be a mum to a student at the North Somerset comprehensive the main school theatre had reverberated to loud BBC theme music from a variety of its shows.
Now in its 71st year there are 48 radio shows a year. Any Questions? was first broadcast in October 1948 in the West of England, before broadcasting nationally in 1950.
The programme has broadcast on BBC Radio 4 since April 1970.
According to Wikipedia originally the panel was far more diverse, usually a clergyman, a trade unionist, an academic or journalist and one politician.
Presenter Jonathan Dimbleby stepped down after 32 years in June and in answer to the question who should replace him a wag in the audience shouted out ‘Nicholas Parsons’.
We made do with British journalist and presenter of The World This Weekend and The World at One on BBC Radio 4 Shaun Ley for the evening.
He described the panel as ‘robust’.
The threat of hundreds of pre-debate protesters outside the comprehensive was in fact a muted affair with only one carrying a Brexit supporting placard and approximately 30 pro-EU flag waving people of all ages - not a milkshake in sight…
Ten questions submitted on arrival by the audience were chosen but first the panel were asked what would be written on their epitaph which provoked some hilarity.
However, all the usual topics were covered from EU membership, Nhs, British farming, climate change and the serious decline in wildlife in our countryside.
With the government on a spend, spend, spend spree there were questions about the location of the ‘magic money tree’, concerns about the trillions now owed despite Mr Johnson telling the Conservative conference that ‘we have wiped out the national debt’ and criticism of the George Osborne school of economics when he was Conservative chancellor from 2010-16.
Mr Farage predicted a recession and said now was a good time to invest in infrastructure on borrow money but added that although the annual deficit was under control the national debt now stands at £1.9 trillion and rising.
Mr Farage attributed Mr Johnson elevation to Prime Minister to the ‘birth and rapid rise’ of the Brexit Party, Mr Buckland called for a tempering of language in parliament, Ms Winterson lamented the wasted time and energy spent on Brexit with more important national and international matters pending and Mr Gardiner said the charitable status of public schools ‘getting an undeserved subsidy’ would be reviewed by a new Labour Party government.
Except for Ms Winterson all the panel had attended public schools, said Mr Ley who went to a state school in Devon.
Answers were peppered with personal anecdotes from car washing to insect bites.
The biggest spat was between Mr Farage who said the Labour Party was in the hands of the ‘Marxists’ and Ms Winterson who called for an increase in company tax citing the affect austerity had those with the least means.
Mr Buckland called for ‘civilised and proper debates’ without banding about words like ‘liar’ and worse and for all to come together as a parliament and as a country.
Mr Farage was adamant he wanted out of the EU full stop and what was currently on offer was a new treaty akin to ‘putting lipstick on a pig’.
Unlike the referendum the audience split was mostly in favour of staying in the EU.
At the end of the 50 minutes on air Mr Farage scurried off while the others stayed to talk to the audience and pose for photos.
You can listen to the programme in full on the BBC Radio 4 podcast here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrtn5/episodes/downloads
Farage at Backwell School
Backwell School to host a live broadcast of the BBC Radio 4 panel show Any Questions.
The programme is in the main school theatre on Friday, October 4, from 6.30 pm.
Any Questions is a weekly topical discussion in which a panel of personalities from the worlds of politics, media and current affairs are posed questions by the local audience.
With the current Brexit deadline standing as Thursday, October 31, this panel will be just weeks before what could be a pivotal point in British history
This is a very prestigious event for both the school and North Somerset.
Panel members include; Nigel Farage MEP, Barry Gardiner MP, Nicky Morgan MP and the evening will be chaired by Shaun Ley.
Headteacher Jon Nunes said “We are very excited to be facilitating a national broadcast from the school site and look forward to welcoming the BBC to Backwell School”.
This is a free ticketed event however all tickets available to the public have already been booked.
Nailsea People has its ticket.
The show will be broadcast live from 8pm on BBC Radio 4 and then repeated on Saturday, October 5, at 1.10 pm.
Nailsea People Facebook page announced the attendance of Mr Farage and it the comments reflect in any way the radio debate it looks like a lively evening.
Anti-EU MP has his rightwing say...
Below is an article that North Somerset MP, The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, wrote for the Telegraph and is sharing with Nailsea People
Remainers lack the courage to defend the EU's dangerous plans for a federal Europe
The Remainers who want to override the democratic wishes of the British people are getting into full swing as they once again try to find a parliamentary means of blocking Brexit. There is a consequent danger that those of us who campaigned and voted to leave the EU will be drawn into procedural arguments rather than those of substance.
So it is worth reminding ourselves why staying in the EU would be bad for Britain. It is also worth remembering that, in the referendum itself, the Remainers only ever made the case against Brexit and never had the courage to make the case for staying in the EU. Their reasons were clear: they knew that the one thing that was not on offer in 2016 was the status quo. Either we took control of our own future or we would be incorporated into a Europe that was determined to press on with ever-closer union.
And nothing that has happened in the EU since suggests that the outcome will be anything other than we predicted. From the French President to the new Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, political, economic and security integration show no sign of slowing down.
The latter is arguably of the greatest significance. The EU is not an instrument of security as it likes to pretend. In fact, the EU’s pretensions in defence verge upon little more than a vanity project, albeit a dangerous one.
At the 2014 summit in Wales, all Nato members agreed to spend 2 per cent of their GDPs on defence by 2025. At the end of 2017, however, only four EU members of Nato had kept their commitment: Greece spent 2.4 per cent, the United Kingdom 2.1 per cent, Estonia 2.1 per cent and Poland 2 per cent. The United States, by contrast, spent 3.6 per cent, the equivalent of 70.1 per cent of aggregate spending by all Nato member states.
From the high point of Western strength in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, a misplaced sense of comfort has resulted in too many EU Nato members dropping their guard and re-directing promised defence spending into other, more politically attractive, areas. EU countries account for 7 per cent of the global population, 25 per cent of global GDP but 50 per cent of global social spending.
he ironic result is that many of those countries which now seek to create
space between themselves and American foreign policy have instead made themselves more dependent than before on the United States.
Why, then, do EU leaders seek to insult America through defence integration plans that promise no additional spending but which threaten to undermine Nato? How long American taxpayers, or indeed the current US administration, will put up with this situation should concern all those who worry about the safety of the whole European continent.
In economic terms, it is similarly clear that the Eurozone is likely to try to integrate further. While the project has seen German exports soar due to an effectively undervalued currency, high structural unemployment – especially among the young – has been the price paid by a number of southern and eastern EU states.
President Macron of France has said that he wants to go further, creating a post for an EU finance minister, a joint eurozone budget, and a body tasked with overseeing bloc-wide economic policy. He has also suggested that a separate parliament made up of elected members from Eurozone countries would enable them to take decisions while excluding the states that had not yet adopted the euro. What influence would Britain have in such a set-up?
All this is happening while nationalism and political fragmentation are on the increase, most recently witnessed at the European Parliamentary elections. Yet there is no sign of the integrationists slowing down. Quite the opposite. As many of us predicted at the time of the referendum, their answer to what they perceive as the rise of populism is to speed up centralisation.
It would be a tragedy if an institution that was set up to counter the threat of nationalism in Europe was, as a result of its own inflexibility, to reignite such notions. If the integrationists break, it is because they will not bend. This is not where Britain’s future lies.
Britain and the EU have a profoundly different approach to the world. It is partly an emotional one. Unlike so many of our European friends, we have never felt the need to bury our 20th-century history in a pan-European project – a project where the integration of European nation states is designed to sap them of their unique identity in order to minimise the risk they might pose to one another. We are also traditionally an outward looking, global country, fired by our wider ambitions and willing to shoulder our international obligations. That is what the referendum debate was all about. It must not be forgotten.
Booted to backbenches by Boris
North Somerset MP Liam Fox has been booted to the backbenches by new prime minister Boris Johnson.
He lost his job as international trade secretary less than an hour after Mr Johnson headed for No 10.
But it isn't the first time our Conservative MP has been demoted.
Dr Fox lost his job as defence secretary in 2011 after he allowed his close friend and best man, Adam Werrity, to take up an unofficial and undeclared role in which he attended meetings at the Ministry of Defence without first obtaining security clearance.
Within minutes of the latest announcement Nailsea People posted on its Facebook page ‘North Somerset MP Liam Fox has lost his job as international trade secretary as new PM Boris Johnson clears out Theresa May’s old Conservative cabinet. We read Liam didn’t want to go but Boris wasn’t having any of it... Liam goes back to the back benches and will now be able to spend more time in the constituency and less time jet-setting...’.
Dr Fox tweeted confirmation on Wednesday afternoon.
The MP of 27 years who lives down the road from Nailsea said he would ‘support Boris Johnson and the government’.
The 57-year-old was appointed trade secretary as part of a trio of Brexiteer appointments when Theresa May took office after the 2016 referendum.
He was promoted to the job of secretary of state along with David Davis and Mr Johnson, who took the Brexit and foreign secretary roles respectively before they both resigned last summer over the detail of Mrs May's European Union exit deal.
A free trade advocate, the senior Tory has spent his three years in post making the case for Brexit and looking to tee-up trade deals with other countries, including lining up major agreements with South Korea and Switzerland.
The Jeremy Hunt-backer criticised Mr Johnson during the Tory Party leadership contest for suggesting that world trade rules could be used avoid tariffs after Brexit and anyone listening at the Nailsea & Backwell beer and cider festival in July would have heard less than complimentary remarks about Boris.
Liam tweeted: “Sadly, I will be leaving the Government. It has been a privilege to have served as Secretary of State for International Trade these past three years.“I am proud to have worked with a tremendously talented team at the Department for International Trade to boost trade and investment and prepare for Brexit.”
Liam and Boris were on the same side once when the latter was London Lord Mayor when calling for then PM Theresa May to create a new lottery to raise £120 million for a royal yacht to promote post-Brexit Britain.
New vice-chairman Nailsea Town Council
The new vice-chairman of Nailsea Town Council is Labour Party member Jonathan Argles.
At the elections in May the town council was missing four councillors with only one election in one ward as not enough people put their names forward.
It was decided to co-opt to fill the vacancies and seven people volunteered.
Those chosen were accountant and magistrate Ben Kushner, Nailsea town centre recruitment company boss James Steele, unsuccessful Conservative district candidate Anita Smith and retired deputy head teacher Jo Hopkinson.
Former vice-chairman John Phillips, who works in Nailsea but lives at Weston-super-Mare, was not re-elected and also failed in his bid for co-option.
Chairman Jan Barber said: “Despite this John has kindly offered to help with the JSP submission and be part of that planning working party.”
Father of four James Steele aged 33 is now the youngest town councillor.
He joins a talented band of 20 people of mixed but with representative political backgrounds serving the town which also include Mike Bird, Jeremy Blatchford, Mary Blatchford, Oliver Ellis, Liz Frappell, Jane Holt, Dee Houlbrook, Clare Hunt, Rod Lees, Neil Middleton, David Packham, James Tonkin, Chris Watts and John Wilson.
Scroll down to read about Jan Barber becoming chairman...
North Somerset Council executive
North Somerset Council has announced its 'executive' which carries out functions that are not the responsibility of any other part of the council.
After the leader and deputy leader have been appointed by council, they appoint members who are allocated certain areas of responsibility, known as a portfolio.
Among those named are two local councillors - James Tonkin for Nailsea and Bridget Petty for Backwell.
Cllr Don Davies – council leader and nicknamed ‘The Don’
Local Enterprise Partnership and North Somerset Partnership
Joint Executive Committee (WECA and North Somerset Council)
forward programme and strategic review
strategic communications (with Deputy Leader)
Cllr Mike Bell – council deputy leader with portfolio for adult social care and health which includes:
adult social care
Health and Wellbeing Board
public health and regulatory services
NHS and health liaison
Cllr Ash Cartman - finance and performance
income generation (with Executive Member for Business, Economy and Employment)
Cllr James Tonkin - planning and transport
Cllr Bridget Petty - climate emergency and environment
waste and recycling
Cllr Mark Canniford - business, economy and employment
Weston urban expansion and regeneration
Cllr Caritas Charles - leisure, culture and tourism
community engagement and consultation
parks and green spaces
Cllr Catherine Gibbons - children’s services and lifelong learning
children and young people’s services
further and higher education liaison
Defeated Conservative district councillor Jan Barber is the new chairman of Nailsea Town Council.
Jan has served the town and district council for 36 years and was chairman once before from 1987-89.
In a shock district council result the executive member with responsibility for children and young people’s services was another casualty of the Tory party Brexit fiasco.
Jan was one of the first councillors to moot free bus passes for senior citizens, argue about the amount of rubbish going into landfill and a founder of Nailsea summer play scheme.
Even if you disagree with her politics you knew she was always going to put Nailsea and its people first.
She takes over the role which usually has a one year rotation from the very able and hardworking David Packham.
Chris Watts, who is the treasurer of North Somerset Labour Party, is the newest councillor but there are still four vacancies which will be filled by co-option on Wednesday, June 19.
There are vacancies for two councillors in Yeo ward and two in the West End ward.
Anyone interested in being co-opted needs to apply to the clerk in writing before Monday, June 10.
Candidates will be asked to fill in a short eligibility questionnaire and a co-option application form.
For more details on the role, email town clerk Jo Duffy at email@example.com or call 01275 855277.
What a difference a day makes
Two Backwell meetings
Backwell Parish Council annual meeting of electors is on Thursday, April 25, 7.30-9.30pm in the parish hall.
This is a chance to meet parish councillors and hear reports from different aspects of village life.
There will also be a presentation from the Bristol Airport consultative committee.
There will be refreshments afterwards.
Vote, vote, vote for Nailsea
The seventh Digital Leaders 100 list was announced on Thursday night, April 11, and Nailsea Town Council is one of the finalists.
It has been shortlisted from more than 600 entries down to an amazing final 100, reflecting the fantastic digital transformation work taking place across the UK.
Technophobics in Nailsea have been getting help with their computers, mobile phones and iPads at 65 High Street and among those providing the expertise have been Nailsea School students.
And it is estimated that the UK will have 800,000 unfilled digital vacancies by 2020.
So, for now forget BREXIT and the local government elections in May and use your vote wisely to vote for an award for Nailsea Town Council.
Since it bought and began transforming 65 High Street under the guidance of development manager Ian Morrell, the former butcher’s shop has been become an open house for promoting good health and well-being.
Ian talks about the achievements at 65 in this video..
He said: “The DL 100 Award recognises organisations which are making a contribution to the digital economy.
"The service at No 65 in helping people use their digital technology is provided by volunteers on Monday to Friday mornings and is one of the many activities that take place here, all of which are supporting the local community.
"We are pleased to be on the shortlist, especially as we are the only town or parish council competing against much larger authorities.
"Having got to this stage, it would be great to go one step further by getting enough votes to get into the final three and I would be very grateful for any support we can get.”
The video highlights not only the digital help given but the support for Your Cancer Café, the after-school Youth Club, counselling sessions and Citizens Advice at 65 with the Memory Café for dementia sufferers and the Leg Club at the Tithe Barn.
There are two individual categories in the DL100 awards with 20 names from five UK regions including Scotland and Northern Ireland.
To read more about the DL100 finalists and vote for Nailsea click HERE.
Voting closes on Friday, May 10 at noon, so now is your time to vote!
The remaining 80 places in the list are taken up by organisations and Nailsea is one of those in a list of councils from Worthing to Newcastle – see below who we are up against:
Adur and Worthing Councils
Ashford Borough Council
Aylesbury Vale District Council
Cambridgeshire County Council
Carmarthenshire County Council
Leeds City Council
London Borough of Harrow
Nailsea Town Council
Newcastle City Council
In April 2015 just prior to the May elections it was announced by the Conservative leader of North Somerset Council that a swimming pool for Nailsea was back on the cards.
Now in April 2019 just prior to the May elections comes the news Portishead is to get its rail link funding.
I thought 'purdah' forbade these announcements but North Somerset Council media team assure me "This is Government 'business as usual' and our legal team say we can react to the news of the funding announcement."
Purdah is the term used to describe the pre-election period, between the time an election is announced and the date the election is held.
Central and local government are subject to certain restrictions on political activity during the run up to an election.
Parliamentary guidance says 'In the period immediately before an election or referendum there are restrictions on the use of public resources and activities of civil servants. During a general election Ministers remain in office and in charge of their departments but it is customary for them to observe discretion in announcing initiatives that are new or of a long-term character in their capacity as a minister. It does not prevent ministers from campaigning on their party manifesto in their role as politicians seeking election, but they must not use official resources from their ministry or department.'
Nailsea town councillor and district council candidate Jon Argles said: "When I worked with the MoD, the concept of purdah was taken very seriously in deed and spirit; it seems that North Somerset Council would rather exploit that through an unsavoury loophole for cheap political gain.
"Although any funding to alleviate congestion and dependency on cars is welcomed, this would not have been an issue had North Somerset been part of The West of England Combined Authority (WECA), as Labour had wanted, where we could have been partners in an holistic transport network rather than parochial beggars.
"We also understand that even if the initial financial costs are met - and the costs are constantly rising - there is a greater issue in that we have still yet to sign up enough freight contracts to the line in order to make it a financially viable and sustainable route, so we wouldn’t advise Portishead residents to sell their cars just yet.
"A future Labour Government in Westminster, of course, would nationalise the railways, running routes that meet the needs of the people of North Somerset, not shareholders; perhaps that’s why the Tories are so keen to tie up funding and contracts now."
Campaigners have been fighting for more than 20 years to get the rail link back in a North Somerset town.
Members of the
Portishead Railway Group have been campaigning to reopen the branch line which was closed more than 50 years ago in the nationwide cuts to the rail network by Dr Richard Beeching.
You can read the full press release about the rail funding HERE.
And Nailsea People front page from 2015 HERE.
Thursday, May 2
North Somerset Council + Nailsea Town Council
There will be only one town council ward – Golden Valley - in Nailsea needing an election on Thursday, May 2.
And yet other Nailsea Town Council wards will have vacancies in May as not enough people put their names forward.
There are more than 40 town and parish councils across North Somerset divided into 67 wards.
Only 18 wards had more candidates than vacancies at town and parish level.
People living in Wraxall & Failand parish council catchment area will be going to the poll as 12 candidates are standing for 11 vacancies.
Being a town or parish councillor is unpaid and can be a thankless task involving hours of meetings and very little say in important decisions.
But at district level councillors get an allowance of £8,000+ and those sitting on the executive get even more monetary rewards and wield the power.
There is nothing to stop a candidate being a parish, town and district councillor.
We have spotted a couple of anomalies like a Clevedon person standing in Nailsea and a Nailsea person standing in Clevedon.
There is nothing illegal about this and perhaps the people concerned are about to move house?
Nailsea Town Council is divided into four wards each with five vacancies making 20 councillors in total.
West End and Yeo wards have only three out of the five councillors needed making four vacancies across the two wards.
In Youngwood it was full house with five people putting their names forward but for Golden Valley there are six candidates for five vacancies.
Seeking re-election at Golden Valley are Jane Holt (who is also standing for district), past chairman Rod Lees, past chairman Neil Middleton, current chairman David Packham and John Phillips with new boy on the block Christopher Watts putting his hat in the ring as well.
Perhaps some liaison could have saved the electorate the cost of staging an election when the town council will still have vacancies in May.
At Backwell only 12 people wanted to serve out of 15 vacancies so there will be no election for parish council and three more councillors to find.
Flax Bourton could only find four people out of the seven it needs, and Long Ashton could only find 10 out of its 19 vacancies.
For parish and town councils few candidates have declared any political allegiance and it is suspected many of the vacancies will be filled by co-option.
All the 50 district council seats are contested with Nailsea needing to elect four councillors and most candidates have stated their party politics.
A couple of UKIP candidates are standing in Weston-super-Mare but in our neck of the woods it is all the usual suspects and no Monster Raving Loony-style candidates, we are led to believe.
It will be interesting to find out if the Brexit fiasco will have any impact on polling intentions of North Somerset voters.
Nailsea People will be publishing a brief resume about candidates as and when the information is emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read a full list of the parish and town council elections click HERE.
To read a full list of parish and town councillors electioned unopposed click HERE.
To read a full list of the district council candidates click HERE.
NORTH SOMERSET COUNCIL
BACKWELL (one vacancy)
Bridget Petty GREEN PARTY
Peter Soothill CONSERVATIVE PARTY
LONG ASHTON (two vacancies)
Ashley Cartman LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
Charles Cave CONSERVATIVE PARTY
Stuart McQuillan GREEN PARTY
Kate Stowey CONSERVATIVE PARTY
NAILSEA GOLDEN VALLEY (one vacancy)
Andy Cole INDEPENDENT
Jane Holt CONSERVATIVE PARTY
NAILSEA WEST END (one vacancy)
Anita Smith CONSERVATIVE PARTY
James Tonkin INDEPENDENT
NAILSEA YEO (one vacancy)
Mary Blatchford CONSERVATIVE PARTY
David Howells LIBERAL DEMOCRAT
NAILSEA YOUNGWOOD (one vacancy)
Jan Barber CONSERVATIVE
Sandra Hearne INDEPENDENT
May day for politicians
As Prime Minister Theresa May battles with Brexit and cross swords with the UK and EU parliaments nearer home political parties are getting ready to fight the good fight at the May district, parish and town local elections.
Polling day is Thursday, May 2, 7am-10pm.
First off the grid is North Somerset Labour Party who announced its Nailsea district council candidates with a photocall on the steps of Weston town hall while delivering its nomination papers to the electoral officer this week.
From left are:
Jon Argles (Nailsea Yeo). Jon is a 41-year-old father-of-two who works in financial services and currently serves on Nailsea Town Council;
Dee Houlbrook (Nailsea Youngwood). Fifty four-year-old Dee has lived in the town for 20 years and is a mother-of-four. She plans to start a university course in September; and
Chris Watts (Nailsea Golden Valley). Chris aged 47, also lives in Nailsea and works for the local health authority.
To read the North Somerset Labour Party manifesto click HERE.
Elections to North Somerset Council and every town and parish council within North Somerset are on May 2.
All seats on all councils will be subject to the election process.
Apart from the chairman and vice-chairman, your current councillors will remain in office until the fourth day after the election day of May 2, when they will retire and the new councillors will take office.
The chairman will remain (even if he/she does not seek re-election) until after a new chairman has been elected at the annual meeting of your council following the election; and your vice-chairman will also remain in office until the new chairman has been elected.
Candidates have until 4pm on Wednesday, April 3, to get their nomination forms in.
BRAIN BOXES: Labour Party members and friends tested their knowledge at a Politics Plus fundraising quiz at the Ring O'Bells, Nailsea on Saturday night, March 2. Pictured are some of the assembled group including several Nailsea councillors. The event made more than £100 for North Somerset Constituency Labour Party. Quizmaster Steve Harrison said: "It was great to have a bit of fun, find out how much we knew (or didn't!) - and raise a few bob for the party at the same time." Candidates for the May elections will be announced at the end of this month. The Mushy Green Peas team took first prize.
Campaign trail 2019
North Somerset MP Liam Fox has said leaving the European Union without a deal will be 'survivable'.
The international trade secretary told Sophy Ridge on Sky News Sunday, February 2, that it would not be in Britain's best interest to leave without a deal in place with the European Union, and admitted it could put the economy 'into a position of unnecessary turmoil'.
He said: "We would be able to deal with that scenario, but it wouldn't be in our interest to go there.
"It seems to me we have got to guard against two things.
"One is an irrational pessimism that says that everything will be a catastrophe and irrational optimism which says everything will be okay.
"The truth lies between the two."
But he cautioned against relying on World Trade Organisation terms, which is what Britain will revert to trading on if no deal is reached.
He said: "If WTO was so good people wouldn't be looking to have trade agreements or customs unions which are ways in which you can further improve on those WTO rules."
While the next general election isn’t due until 2022 the betting odds for it being this year are 5/4 with who will win being anyone’s bet.
The next district council elections for North Somerset are on Thursday, May 2 and the Conservative Party is out canvassing in Nailsea already.
Dr Fox found time in his busy schedule to join town councillor Jane Holt who is planning to stand for the unitary authority in May.
Dr Fox and Mrs Holt who works for Waitrose made a surprise visit to the Nailsea home of Joanne Hopkinson who launched Your Cancer Café at 65 High Street.
Mrs Hopkinson is the aunt of Conservative MP Tracey Crouch who represents Chatham and Aylesford.
In 2019 all metropolitan, shire and unitary authorities will be holding election.
In the pre-election period called 'purdah' which is the time between when an election is announced and the date the election is held there is certain restrictions on political activity.
For the Local Government Election results of May 2018 scroll down this page.
Broadcasting Brexit news
With the news moving so quickly and North Somerset MP Liam Fox at 100-1 betting odds of becoming the next PM we publish a Telegraph article printed on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.
This article was kindly shared by North Somerset Conservative Constituency assistant to Dr Liam Fox MP, Annabel Tall.
Dr Fox said: "A second Brexit referendum? The one thing that will not be on offer is the status quo"
The Prime Minister's decision to postpone the meaningful vote on Britain’s exit from the EU was a sensible and pragmatic move. It has been clear for some time that many Members of Parliament, myself included, share some reservations about the Withdrawal Agreement, especially the “Irish backstop”.
If the PM is able to secure concessions on the backstop, I believe that this Withdrawal Agreement is the only one that can achieve a majority in the House of Commons, and enable the House to deliver on its promise to the voters of the UK to respect the outcome of the referendum.
When MPs voted overwhelmingly to hold the referendum, Parliament in effect said: we cannot or will not make a decision on this particular matter. It is too important, too momentous, to be decided by just 650 individuals. We want the people to take this decision and issue an instruction to Parliament.
If we want to retain the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and procedures, it is time for Parliament to live up to its side of the bargain. Failure to do so would be a democratic betrayal with Parliament deliberately putting itself at odds with the electorate.
There are also those who refuse to accept the referendum result and are trying to keep Britain in the EU by asking them to vote again to give them the “right” result. Even if every member of the House were to vote for it – by the time the necessary legislation had been passed, the question determined, and the vote organised, we would be well beyond March 29 2019. Britain would already be out of the European Union.Article 50 could, of course, be extended. But that could only be done by a minister of the Crown – a member of a government that is committed to delivering our promised withdrawal from the EU. For those who want another referendum, let us be very clear: the one thing that will not be on offer in any further referendum, just as it was not in the last one, is the status quo, inside the European Union.
MAY WIN: Prime Minister Theresa May will face a vote of confidence in her leadership later on Wednesday, December. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Mrs May said: "I will contest that vote with everything I have got.@ Friends and colleague Dr Fox twitted his support for the PM
The EU is committed, as it has been since the treaty of Rome, to ever closer union. We wish our European friends well in that endeavour, but it is not the right course for Britain.
Labour’s plan, of course, is to force another general election, or even to use the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act to assume office without another vote, cobbling together support from wherever they can … this would solve nothing. Labour have no plan. Their stated positions, once the mass of conflicting statements has been unravelled, are at best naive.
All that we have heard from those on the Labour front bench is ill-researched, ill-understood, unrealistic and unworkable rhetoric.
The Conservative Party has two tasks: to deliver Brexit and continue to govern our country by staying in office. The failure to do both of these things would be disastrous for our party and our country."
New chief executive for North Somerset Council
North Somerset Council has a new chief executive.
Jo Walker, aged 50, will join the council in the new year.
Her appointment was agreed by the employment committee following a rigorous recruitment process and announced at a meeting of the Executive.
Employment committee chairman David Pasley said: “The committee had the opportunity to meet a number of strong candidates during the recruitment process and I am pleased to report that Jo’s appointment received unanimous cross-party support.”
Jo is currently strategic director of strategic finance and support services at Gloucestershire County Council, where she has worked for 30 years.
Her previous experience also includes director of highways, transport and waste, working with partners across health and social care and lobbying for local government funding at a national level.
North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “I am really looking forward to Jo starting work with us. "We had a strong selection of candidates to choose from, but Jo particularly impressed us with her experience and her approach.
"Her financial expertise will be of huge benefit as we continue to work hard to deliver much-valued local services to our residents.”
Jo said: “I am really looking forward to joining North Somerset Council and helping the organisation to deliver its ambitious plans for the area.
“I am looking forward to getting to know the people and the place much better over the coming weeks and can’t wait to get started.”
Ms Walker replaces caretaker chief executiive Helen Bailey who stood in for Mike Jackson who left North Somerset in June for a job with Bristol City Council as its executive director of resources and head of paid service.
The annual chief executive salary was advertisted as £150,000.
The basic annual salary for an MP from April 2018 is £77,379 although they get expenses to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having somewhere to live in London or their constituency, and travel from home to work which averages a further £160,378.
Liam on lectern
North Somerset MP Liam Fox deliveries his speech to Conservative Party Conference 2018 on day one.
Dr Fox said: "I was delighted to attend this year’s conference with 12 delegates from North Somerset.
:It was particularly pleasing to see so many of our young people at conference engaging with the Party, attending events in main halls, contributing to fringe events, undergoing training and posting positive messages on social media; they were an absolute credit to our constituency.
"We have a thriving, growing association in North Somerset and welcome new members – you can join here join here .
"If you would prefer to just volunteer please email email@example.com and we will add you to our list.'
New town councillor
Nailsea Town Council has begun the process of finding a new town clerk after the surprise resignation of Ian Morrell after 13 years in the job.
He said: "The first interviews for my replacement are happening over the next few days.
"My departure depends a bit on when the new clerk starts and doing a proper handover."
There is a new face on council as Dee Houlbrook, of Birdcombe Close, has been co-opted on to fill the vacancy in the Youngwood ward created by the resignation of Ann Heappey.
There is still a vacancy for West End, which will be filled by co-option.
This was created by the resignation of Helen Hamblin.
The community engagement committee will be deciding on the process at its meeting on Wednesday, August 29.
Nailsea Town Council elections are due to take place next year.
Currently we are represented by 20 councillors including two husband and wife teams:
Jeremy Blatchford and Mary Blatchford
- Clare Hunt
David Packham chairman
Jon Phillips vice-chairman
Ann Tonkin and James Tonkin
Citizens summer school
North Somerst MP Liam Fox met a group of Backwell and Gordano school students this week taking part in National Citizen Service (NCS).
This is an open-to-all unifying experience shared by teens from different backgrounds which helps them become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.
During his visit, Dr Fox met NCS participants in their second week of the programme where he judged the culmination of a week long Smoothie Challenge.
The trade minister heard first-hand how NCS - the fastest growing youth movement in our country for a century - is helping to develop participants’ life skills, resilience and wellbeing while boosting community engagement.
Dr Fox said: “It was a pleasure to meet such an inspiring group of young people and see the great things they have already accomplished on programme.
"I look forward to hearing all about their achievements over the remainder of their time on NCS and the positive impact their social action has on the local community.”
NCS is a flagship government initiative that provides young people aged 15-17 the chance to take on new challenges, experience exciting activities, make long-lasting friendships and develop vital skills that will support them later in life. It was launched to tackle three core issues of importance to society: social cohesion, social mobility and social engagement.
More than 400,000 young people have completed the NCS programme to date, giving up an incredible 11.7 million hours to social action projects since NCS started.
There are still places available for 15-17 years to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity. To sign up click HERE.
David Smith and THE Trump visit
A former Nailsea School student got to report on the controversial visit on US president Donald Trump to the UK this summer.
It may only have been be a flying visit, but President Trump packed a lot in including dinner at Blenheim which was also attended by North Somerset MP Liam Fox.
And with first lady, Melania there was a meet and greet at the new US embassy in London, a night at Winfield House - the US ambassador's residence in Regent's Park and a meeting with UK prime minister Theresa May.
Mr Trump meet the prime minister again at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst before heading to Mrs May's country retreat of Chequers for what Downing Street has described as 'substantive bilateral talks on a range of foreign policy issues'.
Then is was tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle before a trip to for Scotland for a spot of golf.
Al this was reported by David Smith who was a pupil at Nailsea School from 1986 to 1993.
His idea for a school newspaper led to the publication in 1991 of Focus, which he went on to edit, and he was president of the school council in 1992-93.
He acted in school theatre productions including A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which he played Bottom, and was captain of the team that won a BBC Radio Bristol quiz for south west schools.
At Nailsea School he took English, history and theatre studies at A-level.
After leaving Nailsea, David went to University of Leeds where he graduated with a BA joint honours English and Sociology degree.
He also edited the university student newspaper before joining the Daily Express as a graduate trainee in 1997.
He moved to The Observer in 2003 and became Africa correspondent of The Guardian, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2009, reporting on stories including the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, death of Nelson Mandela and trial of Oscar Pistorius.
He moved to the US as Washington correspondent of The Guardian in 2015.
David lives in Washington with his wife Andrea, an actress from the US, and their children Henry, born in 2012, and Viola, born in 2013.
Details of the wedding can be read by clicking HERE.
And his farewell to Africa article is HERE.
WHERE'S BORIS: North Somerset MP Liam Fox still at top cabinet table this week ...wonder how it will all pan out. PM Theresa May brought David Davis back from the political dead along with Boris Johnson who both jumped ship this week. Note Dr Fox is sitting next to Michael Gove. Hope all the shenanigans don’t stop him attending Nailsea & Backwell beer and cider festival at the weekend...
It is what your right arm is for
North Somerset MP Liam Fox met volunteers at Nailsea and Backwell Rugby Club to support the annual 'rugbyforce day'.
Club members and volunteers had come together in glorious sunshine to carry out maintenance work around the rubgy pitches and in the club house.
The club were also raising awareness and fundraising for Meningitis Now.
Dr Liam Fox talked to the volunteers and heard more about the Meningitis Now research charity which the club is supporting.
He said “It was great to see so many people giving their time and skills and working so hard for the club and raising money for such an important cause.”
In June the club hosted Cider Circuit 2018 when teams of three and four people ran/walked a sponsored 5k obstacle relay for the charity.
And this month the groundforce crew have been out in strength preparing for Nailsea & Backwell Beer & Cider Festival.
This is staged over three days at the West End grounds.
The 15th annual festival with more than 160 beers, ciders and perries introduces for the first time in 2018 a gin marquee.
Dr Fox and his wife Jesme have attended the festival with friends for many years now.
With free live music on Saturday and Sunday, kids village, street food and shuttle bus every 30 minutes what more could festival goers want?
The festival times are:
Friday, July 13, 6-11pm
Saturday, July 14, noon-11pm
Sunday, July 15,noon-6pm
Advanced tickets cost £10, available from John Browns, Butterfly Travel, MayNews in Nailsea, Aimee’s Winehouse in Backwell and Bargain Booze in Clevedon.
Find out more at: www.nailseabeerandciderfestival.co.uk
THREE WISE MEN; Pictured from left Nailsea Town Council chairman David Packham, newly elected vice-chairman Jon Phillips and serving out his notice clerk Ian Morrell
Nailsea Town Council clerk resigns but chairman stays
In a move which breaks precedent David Packham has been elected chairman of Nailsea Town Council for the fourth year in succession.
There was a 'gentleman's agreement' in place that the maximum term a chairman should serve would be three years to stop a past practise years ago of people hogging the role.
The council at its annual meeting at the Tithe Barn decided continuity was needed because of the number of 'exciting' projects in the pipeline.
Top of the agenda for the town is proposed huge new housing estates with the possible influx of thousands more residents, the threat of pylons and motorways encrouching on surrounding countryside and the development of Engine Lane for homes and 65 High Street for the community.
Mr Packham who retired in 2013 from his job in the construction industry has lived in the town for 20 plus years.
Jon Phillips replaces two joint vice-chairmen - retired primary school teacher Clare Hunt and former district councillor Jeremy Blatchford.
Although the new vice-chairman doesn't live in Nailsea but Weston-super-Mare, Mr Phillips has High Street offices from where he runs his town planning and development consultancy.
But the idea for continuity for the council was nearly scuppered by the shock resignation of clerk Ian Morrell.
Mr Morrell gave six months notice and will leave in the autum.
He said: "I like to see change as creating opportunities and a new clerk can help the council go in different directions."
Mr Morrell took over from former clerk June Pollard who retired in 2006,
One of his pet projects was the use of what was called Youth House as a centre for the community promoting well-being and opportunites for all including proving an affordable hot desk for budding entrepreneurs.
Mr Morrell was brains behind the realisation of a skatepark for Nailsea youth and was/is seen as a 'safe pair of hands' on matters concerning finance and complex legislation both pending and already in force affecting local government.
He currently is the media spokesman for the council.
Mr Packham said: "Ian Morrell has submitted his resignation as clerk to the town council which has been reluctantly accepted.
"Ian has been an exceptional town clerk and this has been endorsed by councillors.
"Ian has agreed to remain in post for six months to allow time for a successor to be identified so he will remain active within the town until later in the year.
"During the 13 years that Ian has been in post he has worked with a number of chairmen and councillors to deliver major projects that have benefited the town.
"These include the restoration of the Tithe Barn, the replacement of the skate park in Millennium Park, the preservation of the Nailsea’s glassworks and most recently the introduction of No. 65 in the High Street.
"This latter project will in particular be Ian’s legacy to the town and it reflects his desire to improve the quality of the lives of the residents of Nailsea.
"Ian has also supported many organisations within the town and fought in their corner when faced with the many difficulties that bureaucracy can generate!
"Ian has also undertaken sterling work behind the scenes within the offices of the town council and is responsible for Nailsea Town Council being awarded Quality Status.
"This award, along with updated procedures, puts us in a strong position and prepared for the future.
"Personally I have enjoyed working with Ian in my period as chairman.
"He has brought professionalism, with humour, into his role as clerk.
"No matter how challenging the task has been he has always acted in the town council’s best interests."
James is Tory ladies after supper speaker
Wells MP James Heappey is the guest speaker at the Conservative Women's Organisation spring supper on Wednesday, May 18.
The event is at The Cross Tree Centre, Wraxall, and starts at 7.30pm.
Tickets are £15.
James who lives in Axbridge with his wife Kate and his two children, Charlie and Matilda hails from Nailsea.
While at QEH school he played for Nailsea & Backwell Rugby Club as junior captain.
James also made several appearances on stage with Nailsea Musicals.
Before entering politics in 2013, James served in the Army reaching the rank of Major.
After leaving the military, James worked for North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox for nine months as a parliamentary researcher before becoming a self employed project manager specialising in business risk and resilience.
He caused a social media storm after he told a Millfield School pupil 'f*** off back to Scotland'.
The comments for which Mr Heappey apologised came during a talk to the sixth form.
However, Mr Heappey later apologised, telling The Sunday Mirror: "I made a comment – intended only as a joke – but it was inappropriate and I am deeply sorry for any offence caused.
“I wrote to [the pupil] soon after the school brought her concerns to my attention and apologised unreservedly.”
His mother Anita Heappey is a Nailsea town councillors and helps out at the Conservative constituency office in the High Street.
James is now Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chris Grayling and the chairman of the Conservative Party’s Back Bench Policy Committee on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
He will be talking about the urgent need to re-state the case for free enterprise in the face of the Corbyn-inspired resurgence of socialism, and the case for the Conservatives to be the party of innovation, automation and digitalisation as we renew our message to attract younger voters after Brexit and ahead of the next General Election.
To book tickets click HERE.
Nailsea Town Council annual town meeting
Nailsea residents were invited to the annual town meeting on Wednesday night but on a balmy spring evening not many bothered.
Of the 15,000-strong population only 60 people (not including councillors) came along to the Tithe Barn and for most it was primarily to collect a grant cheque on behalf of their charity or organisation.
As there were no nominations for any of the three community awards, given annually to deserving recipients, none were made.
To be fair Nailsea people only turn up on mass when they want to protest about a local issue they disagree with - this is usually a planning application.
But as chairman David Packham explained central government was keen to build more houses in Nailsea and it seems this was almost a done deal. The best the town council could hope for was trying to ensure the necessary roads, leisure and social amenities came with the new homes.
Nailsea Town Council has an annual budget of approximately half a million pounds out of this 26 per cent goes on its staff, office and admin costs.
For 2018 it has allocated £64,326 in grants and among those to benefit are sport, youth and elderly groups as well as fairs, festivals and the performing arts.
The largest sum goes to running the Community Transport (£11,000) while at the other end of the spectrum the annual carnival gets only £750.
There were few questions from the floor but Mr Packham was asked it Scotch Horn Centre was going to be redeveloped and would Nailsea library move there.
Councillors were determined the library would stay in the town centre and if possible in the building it is in now, he said.
The future of the Scotch Horn appears to be on a backburner, he added.
Those present were told the newly acquired piece of land facing Stock Way South in front of Sapphire Lodge is to be named Lion’s Green although there are no proposals for it to house animals of any kind…
The other inquiry was what about the ‘eyesore’ of the old petrol station which is owned by Nailsea Town Centre – the idea to site a nursery there has gone by-the-by but a request to the landlord for some remedial tidying was agreed.
There were three short presentations from people collecting cheques:
Nailsea Memory Café is a club for those caring for loved ones with dementia. Coordinator Karen Smith said from September it would be running twice a month at the Tithe Barn and it is hoped soon afterwards it will run weekly; more details on the Healthy Peeps page HERE
Nailsea Social Shedders is a mixed group of people who make things and enjoy a cup of coffee, chairman Phill Wheatley explained. A recent project was upcycling an old drum kit into a table and they have a hut on the allotments site where they are cultivating slow worms and a workshop/café at the Hannah More Road scout HQ; for more details click HERE and
Nailsea & Backwell Rotary Club chairman Chris Bales talked about the support Rotarians give to the Leg Club, Young Carers and Better Nailsea groups although the rubbish picks in the car parks can be a repetitive task thanks to the thoughtless litter louts. Annual golf, book sales and charity walk days raise lots of money for good causes and mentoring work at Nailsea School is beneficial to students, he said. Their current projects include the Tall Ships youth sailing initiative and helping Curzon cinema take films out to nursing and care homes.
To read Mr Packham’s full presentation click HERE.
For a full list of grants made by Nailsea Town Council click HERE.
Nailsea Town Council elections are due to take place next year.
Currently we are represented by 20 councillors including two husband and wife teams:
Jeremy Blatchford and Mary Blatchford
Ann Tonkin and James Tonkin
ROYAL FLUSH; North Somerset MP Liam Fox as Secretary of State for International Trade welcomes the Duke of Cambridge to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting April 2018 (CHOGM 2018). The summit was originally to be hosted by Vanuatu but was moved to the United Kingdom after the island was damaged by Cyclone Pam. The event will showcase the creativity, innovation and quality that makes the UK great, said Dr Fox.
MP goes back to school
Nailsea School has just had a visit from North Somerset MP Liam Fox.
The school has been awarded £3,887 from Tesco Bags of Help community grant scheme to invest in the Hub Star-Learners Programme at the Mizzymead campus.
Nailsea School Hub was launched in September 2017 and provides a safe, secure learning environment for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
The Hub offers a reduced mainstream timetable and ensures that student’s social, emotional and sensory needs are met.
Voting ran in stores throughout January and February with customers choosing which local project they would like to get the top award using a token given to them at the checkout.
Before going on to medical school Dr Fox attended the biggest comprehensive in Glasgow.
Back on BBC box
International Trade Secretary and North Somerset MP Liam Fox was back on the BBC box this week for Question Time.
Subjects ranged from Brexit, workers rights and steel exports.
The UK steel industry has warned it could be badly hit after US president Donald Trump confirmed plans for a 25 per cent tariff on imports which trade partners have warned could provoke a 'global trade war'.
The tariff, due to take effect in 15 days, was aimed at protecting national security and American jobs, Mr Trump had said.
The UK currently exports more than 350,000 tonnes of steel products to the US.
Dr Fox who is due to vist Washington new week told the BBC audience the policy championed by Mr Trump was 'absurd'.
Another week in politics
I am not sure whether his words will come back and bite him on the bum but Brexit aficionado and North Somerset MP has spent this week in politics giving more television and newspaper interviews after releases a keynote speech on the economy.
On Sunday morning he appeared on BBC One The Andrew Marr Show alongside cartoonist Matt Pritchett.
And here he showed a framed funny he has on the wall of his Tickenham home penned by the pocket cartoonist for The Daily Telegraph.
Dr Fox tweeted: "This is my favourited #DespiteBrexit Matt cartoon.
"#Matt is the thinking man's cartoonish - politically on the nail and funny to boot."
And talking to the Confederation of British Industry he lampbasted the Labour Party policy to stay in the customs union a move supported by the industrialists.
You can read his full speech entitled Britain's Trading Future in which he says '...the historic decision by the British people to leave the European Union has presented this country with a number of choices about its future global direction. It has generated a great deal of soul-searching and caused a number of important questions to be aired. Some of these relate specifically to the referendum decision itself, others are questions which needed to be addressed anyway but have been brought into sharper focus by that decision. Where do we see our place in the world? What sort of economy and what sort of country do we want to be? What should our influence be in global affairs and global trade? How will we generate the income we will need to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the generations that come after us? Since the referendum vote and the creation of the Department for International Trade, my ministerial team and I have undertaken over 150 overseas visits, to all parts of the globe, to old friends and new allies alike and to markets large and small. From across the world, the keenness to deepen trade and investment ties with this country and once again hear us champion the case for free trade, is palpable...' HERE.
Carol Deacon March 2018