A newly re-formed Wellington and West Deane branch of the Liberal Democrat Party was launched this week by over 30 local Liberal Democrats who called for the return of social housing after a series of decisions that have seen the loss of council houses. Past Chair, Michael Rose said “citizens of Wellington have been betrayed by this Conservative Council” following the decision on the Rockwell Green development to replace 26 Council houses and the former Weavers Arms pub with a development including only 3 social rented homes.
Town Councillor Peter Critchard, elected secretary of the new Branch commented that “so-called affordable housing being put up on the rest of this site is unaffordable for most people, what we need is proper council houses at social rents.”
Paul Baker, who was born in Wellington and was elected to the new Committee, added “my grandmother was the first resident of the then new Council houses at Oaken Ground, if anything will ensure I am active in winning from the Conservatives here it is the thought that my grandmother’s home has been demolished without proper Council housing being put in its place.”
However, Taunton Deane council has rejected the Lib Dem interpretation of the housing mix. “The figures are: 26 new affordable homes being built at the former Weavers Arms, Rockwell Green, Wellington,” said a TDBC spokesman. “The £3.6 m scheme to regenerate the area included demolition of the former pub, the nearby public toilet block and ten of the council’s properties in Oaken Ground. 24 homes remain as rented (21 affordable rent and 3 social rent) properties all of which will be let in the usual way through the choice based lettings system, Homefinder Somerset and 2 properties will now become shared ownership to diversify the tenure choice and offer a form of low cost homeownership.”
Marie Troake was elected Chair of the branch and new member Dominic Varley from Ford Street was elected Treasurer. The mix of new and old members were reminded of Liberal and Liberal Democrat election successes including the elections of MPs Jacqui Ballard and Jeremy Browne and of the former Wellington Liberal Club on Fore Street. Other places on the new Committee were taken by Cllr Mark Lithgow (Vice-Chair), Sue Johnson, Paul Partington, James Russell of Bishop’s Lydeard Parish Council and John Hassall of Cotford St Luke Parish Council. The enthusiastic audience included Adrian Dyke Chair of Oake Parish Council, Gill Lumby of Milverton Parish Council and Sue Levinge of Chipstable Parish Council.
After a short speech by Gideon Amos OBE who stood for Taunton Deane in the General Election and who is campaigning for more social housing in the constituency, mulled wine and mince pies were enjoyed by all and raffle prizes included a single malt bottle of whisky. The new Branch will meet at least quarterly regularly and all who support the Branch’s objectives are welcome to join. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.