CLEANER RIVERS, BUS DISCOUNTS, CYCLE ROUTES AND TREE PLANTING AT THE HEART OF LIBDEM SOMERSET MANIFESTO

Taking on the government on sewage in our rivers, discounted bus travel for teenagers, more safe cycle routes and planting 150,000 trees every year have been announced as key Liberal Democrat proposals in their manifesto for the Somerset Council elections on being held on 5th May to be published today.

Planting trees in Frome today (11th April) with local LibDems, MP Wera Hobhouse launched the LibDems’ manifesto for Somerset saying:

“I am delighted to launch the Somerset Lib Dems manifesto ahead of the elections on May 5th. These elections are an opportunity for people to send a message to the Conservatives who are dumping sewage into our rivers, have slapped taxes onto households who are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis, and have done nothing to tackle devastating ambulance waiting times.

“I am fully behind the Lib Dems manifesto to take control of the council and plant up to 150,000 trees per year. This will have a huge impact across the county and takes huge steps towards tackling the climate emergency and reducing flooding. Offering discounted bus travel for teenagers is another great initiative and will help young people paying over £1,000 on their bus to college.

“Only the Lib Dems in Somerset have the strength to beat the Conservatives in this election and this manifesto has the ideas needed to put the heart back into Somerset.”

As well as planting 150,000 trees and pledging to tackle the government on sewage dumping the manifesto includes some recently published commitments to better support carers, a commitment to retain a County Farms estate following recent sell-offs – originally introduced by a Liberal government to help people get started – and to deliver thousands of low and zero carbon council and social homes. Other policies include growing Somerset’s economy through its competitive advantages in food production, medical sciences and hydrographics, aeronautics and renewable energy.

Welcoming the MP to Frome environmental assessment expert Adam Boyden, a Lib Dem councillor on Mendip District Council, said today:

“The choice in this election will be between a Conservative or a LibDem run Somerset council.

“Lib Dem Mendip district, one of the three Somerset districts we run, has made real progress addressing the climate challenge through a dedicated member of the Cabinet, a Climate Emergency Fund for local eco projects, planting over 7,000 trees, expanding Frome’s Missing Links and multi-user paths, planning guidance to make new homes sustainable, a ‘no idling’ policy, and monitoring and reporting of our carbon emissions. Voting for any party other than the LibDems in this election will put this progress at real risk and only serve the Conservatives who have failed on climate and, as The Times newspaper reported, brought the county council close to bankruptcy”.

County councillor Mike Rigby LibDem shadow portfolio holder for transport and candidate for Lydeard said:

“The Conservative county council have been far too slow to deliver better cycle routes. They’ve failed to deliver any cycling improvements on the dangerous road between Taunton and Wellington for example, calling cycle route proposals ‘extremely optimistic’. But doing nothing exposes drivers and cyclists to real danger. We’ve already committed to making a cycle route happen there and in all the most dangerous blackspots across Somerset. Drivers too are getting a raw deal for the council taxes they pay with appallingly planned roadworks leading to massive congestion and funding for road maintenance slashed again and again. We’re very positive about how our transport plans can deliver for the planet and for Somerset’s road users”.

The party runs three of Somerset’s four district councils and strongly promoted its record of keeping all three financially solvent without cutting services or making any significant increases in council tax. It has high hopes of winning the elections to the new authority and is the only party apart from the Conservatives to be standing candidates in every ward of the county. Returns on investment have been key to sustaining their local authorities’ services. In one district, Somerset West and Taunton, the Lib Dems’ commercial investment strategy even had the support of opposition Conservative councillors.

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