Somerset County Council is currently led by the Conservative
party which has 31 elected members. The Liberal Democrats are in opposition
with 14 councillors. Currently there are 4 Independent councillors, and Labour
and UKIP have 3 each. All 55 places on the council are up for election on Thursday 4 May. Our Politics Reporter Ruth Bradley has profiled each party fielding candidates in the county council elections below.
There’s also an election to the West of England Metro Mayor
role on the same day. You can find more information about this election at the bottom of this page.
County council elections - Candidates
You can find a full list of candidates standing in the Somerset County Council elections via the council's website.
County council elections - Conservatives
There are 55 Tory candidates standing, a full slate. They’ll
be looking to hold on to places like Ilminster, where they were just 11 votes
ahead of UKIP in the last election in 2013, and North Petherton, where they won
by 20 votes from the Liberal Democrats. And trying to gain marginal seats like
Martock and Bishops Hull from the Lib Dems too, especially as their incumbents
are retiring. The Conservative manifesto
called ‘Our Clear Plan for Somerset’ promises low council tax, £30m for social
services, a new university for Somerset, and supporting mortgages for local
people to buy homes.
County council elections - Green Party
The Green Party has 32 candidates standing in the county
council elections. They’re particularly focusing on places like Frome,
Glastonbury and Langport where they have town councillors already. The Greens
are campaigning under four themes: health and social care, ‘standing up for
Somerset’ devolution of powers to Somerset from Westminster, and increased
scrutiny of local government.
County council elections - Labour
51 people are standing for the Labour party, or Labour and
Co-operative Party, in Somerset. It’s looking to maintain its traditional
foothold in Bridgwater, where 2 of its 3 current councillors are elected.
Yeovil and Wellington are other areas of interest for Labour. It’s manifesto
promises to lobby
government for funding for rural services like digital and mobile networks; to
look at building affordable housing on county council land; and to work towards a fully integrated health and
social care system where the NHS and council pool their budgets.
County council elections - Liberal Democrats
The council’s current opposition party, the Lib Dems have 55
candidates standing, so in every division. They’ll be looking to win back seats
in Yeovil and Chard which they lost to UKIP in 2013 - Yeovil Central by just 17
votes. Wells is also an interesting division, currently held by the
Conservative council leader John Osman, but his Lib Dem rival this time is
former local MP Tessa Munt. The party’s
manifesto ‘Somerset solutions to Somerset problems’ promises to find £10m by
cutting waste at County Hall, prioritising preventative
services for children and adults, recruiting more in-house foster carers and
social workers, and investing £25m a year in highways.
County council elections - UK Independence Party
UKIP have gone from fielding 48 candidates at the last
county council elections in 2013, to 23 candidates this time. Their 3 current
councillors are all standing again, in Chard, Minehead and Yeovil. Also notable
is UKIP’s County Chair Helen Hims standing in Cheddar, where the incumbent
Conservative, Dawn Hill, is retiring. UKIP have an England-wide local election
manifesto which looks at the party’s ambitions for councils generally,
including housing, education, democracy, transport and social care. UKIP
also opposes devolution.
County council elections - Independents
There are 13 candidates standing as Independents. The 4
current Independent councillors are all standing for re-election along with new
faces like parish councillor John Hunt in Bishop’s Hull and Taunton West, and
local newspaper editor Andrew Lee in Curry Rivel and Langport. While in Upper
Tone, library campaigner and district councillor Steve Ross hopes it will be
third time lucky for him as he challenges the Conservatives once again, with as
few as 11 votes between them in the past.
Metro Mayor election
The Metro Mayor role will cover the Bath and North East Somerset council area, as well as Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
The £62,000 salaried post is part of government efforts to devolve more power to the regions over key issues such as planning and roads.