THE three main parties are fighting it out for votes in Somerset, launching their respective manifestos for the upcoming county council elections.

The Liberal Democrats met at County Hall in Taunton on Saturday to launch their manifesto, with former leader Paddy Ashdown joining candidates and supporters for the launch.

Cllr Jane Lock, Somerset county Liberal Democrat Group leader, said: “The Liberal Democrats have seen the Conservatives destroy services at County Hall by squandering your tax payers’ money.”

“We have a clear plan on how we can turn this situation around, by investing in Somerset and providing excellent local services.” Somerset needs solutions that are made by local people for local people – we have had enough of the Conservatives deciding what is best behind closed doors.”

Lord Ashdown added: “The Conservatives are taking the West Country for granted. For the second year in a row, there was no mention of Somerset in the Budget.”

The Conservatives brought down the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, to launch their manifesto in Wells last month, with ministers visiting in recent weeks including education secretary Justine Greening, skills and apprenticeships minister Robert Halfon and minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt.

The Conservatives say they are standing on a platform of low council tax, high investment into Somerset and quality services.
Their manifesto includes plans for a new university for Somerset, more housing for local people, moving forward the Huntspill Energy Park Enterprise Zone, the River Parrett Barrage and infrastructure improvements.

The Somerset Labour Party launched it’s county council election campaign on Friday, with candidates in all 55 seats.
Bridgwater Town Council leader, Brian Smedley (Labour,Westover), said: “In fact, Labour has been out leafleting and canvassing for weeks. The things people want to talk about are jobs, hospitals, housing and transport.”

Cllr Leigh Redman added: “Through our manifesto for Somerset we have set out a positive, realistic alternative message for how a Labour-run County Council would put our values and priorities into action for the people of Somerset.

"We would protect services for the most vulnerable, create a sustainable environment, promote economic growth for Somerset’s workers and businesses, invest in our children’s education and protect the vital culture and heritage of our historic county.”
The elections are being held on Thursday, May 4.