Residents from the Burnham-On-Sea area joined a ‘yellow vest protest’ in Bridgwater on Sunday (December 30th) in opposition to councillor ‘greed’.

A crowd of protesters walked though the town to Sedgemoor District Council’s offices on Sunday morning, as pictured here.

The group expressed their concern at the council’s executive members voting through a 32% expenses hike earlier in December, as reported here. They also attacked the council for proceeding with £150,000 of staff cuts – even though this has been denied by the council.

Sedgemoor District Council Leader Duncan McGinty and Chief Executive Allison Griffin met protesters outside the council offices, as pictured here, to hear their concerns and to explain why the decisions had been made.

Dave Chapple, secretary of Bridgwater Trades Union Congress, said the protesters were “united and angry.”

Chief Executive Allison Griffin explained to the group that some of the information that people had received about the council was not accurate.

And Council Leader McGinty added afterwards: “I met the protesters on the council steps with the chief executive. We respect the right of people to demonstrate peacefully and it was an interesting debate. There were lots of different views on different subjects.”

“We offered to talk to them about these issues. Hopefully we can sit down and sort out these problems. The increase will come in after the May elections. We have not cut any services and nor do we have plans to do that. I fully understand people’s annoyance at this time. It would be implemented in June. The current council agreed this but it is for the new council to accept or not.”

Council spokeswoman Claire Faun told “Sedgemoor District Council recognises and respects the democratic right of residents to protest in a peaceful manner.”

The spokeswoman claimed the pay increase is to bring executive members’ allowance up to £5.40 an hour and reflects increasing working hours of councillors. It is thought the executive members already receive full time wages from other forms of employment.”

“The total cost of allowances for the executive in this financial year 2018/2019 is £ £85,082 for the nine members. It is an allowance in place of a ‘wage’, not expenses.”

“The plan for the next municipal year 2019/2020 is to reduce the executive by two members, should the current administration be returned. With the planned increased in allowance for executive members, the total cost of the seven executive allowance for their time, home office facilities etc will be £84,508. This will be £574 less than the current amount of allowances.”

She added: “Sedgemoor District Council is not cutting budgets or services. Sedgemoor has increased services in the past year; introducing Somerset Independent Plus as well as taking over responsibility from Somerset County Council of the ‘Supporting People’ scheme. Sedgemoor has also provided additional support for people claiming Universal Credit.”

Pictured: The ‘yellow vest protest’ in Bridgwater on Sunday morning (photos: David Pearce)


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