Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Liberal Democrats have announced their candidates for the forthcoming Somerset County Council elections on Thursday 4th May.

Mike Murphy, a former Mayor of Burnham-On-Sea & Highbridge, will stand for the party in Burnham North.

And John Parkes, a local Town Councillor, will stand in Highbridge and Burnham South.

Both candidates say they intend to “transform the way that Burnham and Highbridge are treated by County Hall”, making sure both towns get their fair share of help from the authority.

They say they will be available regularly to meet locals by holding drop-in sessions, “rather than making decisions without talking to the community first”, which they say feel has happened in the past few years.

Burnham-On-Sea.com will be featuring all the local candidates standing in May’s election – and we spoke to both the Lib Dem candidates this week.

Mike Murphy is a long-standing businessman in Burnham and Highbridge, who helped get security lighting for the Manor Gardens, and established the Burnham to Apex cycle path. He is well known for organising a multitude of local events, including Burnham’s ‘Picnic in the Park’ which celebrates its 20th year this July, along with many free music events in both Burnham and Highbridge.

Mike said: “The Conservatives at County Hall have really let us down. They’ve made a hash of the finances, made far too many decisions behind closed doors and don’t take the time to listen to the very people who elect them.”

“No-one can doubt big changes are needed. I know Burnham well – this brilliant town deserves to know that its businesses and residents are heard, and get the best possible deal from County Hall. I’m determined to put Burnham back on the map.”

John Parkes, a former teacher, youth services manager and seasoned campaigner, promises to approach the challenge by devoting time, energy and a real passion for Highbridge and Southern Burnham.

He says that he is very keen to encourage local people to get involved in making the decisions that benefit them, where they live.

John said: “Local people know I’ll stand up for them and I’ll continue to listen at my weekly surgeries. As a County Councillor, I will continue to focus on being approachable and contactable, right at the heart of our community, lobbying our Councils to ensure our voices are heard – and then followed up with action.”

“I campaigned successfully against Sedgemoor District Council’s proposal to transfer part of Apex Park to the neighbouring holiday park for more caravans. If ‘awkward’ questions need to be asked at the County Council, rest assured I will ask them!”

John said that Highbridge’s infrastructure desperately needs improvement as vast new housing developments arrive and he will promote the building of more surgeries, schools, better roads, bus and rail services as well as rejuvenating Highbridge town centre and developing more and better job opportunities.

The local Liberal Democrat campaign is being spearheaded by Burnham’s former MP Tessa Munt, who is to stand for the Wells seat, currently held by the Conservative County Council leader John Osman.

Ms Munt, who has also stated her intention to run for Parliament again in 2020, added: “I simply cannot stand by for the next three years and watch as the Conservatives run the county into the ground. John Osman runs Somerset as if it is his personal fiefdom. A small group of eight Councillors makes all the decisions in private, even though the Conservatives have 31 elected members. It’s no wonder so many Conservatives are standing down – they’ve clearly had enough.”

“As Theresa May’s branch manager in Somerset, Cllr Osman has failed. He oversaw the catastrophic collapse of Children’s Care both as the Councillor responsible and then as Leader – and he and his chums are spending £1 million a month on employment agencies to find social workers, when he was the one who fired them from their jobs.”

She added: “He threw away £741,000 in one year paying for high profile Directors who couldn’t fix the crisis in Children’s Care. For 3¾ years, Children’s Care has been judged ‘Inadequate’, the lowest rating, by independent Ofsted Inspectors. Things are so bad that Whitehall has sent officers from Essex to run Somerset’s services.”

“The Conservatives claim to be the party of business – well, a good business looks after its shareholders. In Somerset’s case, that’s you and me and we’ve all ended up having to pay a high price for appalling failures. Somerset deserves better, and that must mean all change at County Hall.”

Burnham-On-Sea.com will also be featuring local candidates for other politicial parties as they are announced in the run-up to the election.