ON a hot July day three hundred and thirty-four years ago more than 1,000 soldiers lost their lives right here in Sedgemoor.

Between Chedzoy and Woolavington the fields were littered with casualties. It was carnage on a massive scale and a bloody end to the Monmouth rebellion.

Coincidentally the body count of Rebels and Royalists who fell in the Battle of Sedgemoor equals the national toll of Conservative councillors who lost their seats in last Thursday’s local elections.

These days, thankfully, we settle our political battles at the ballot box. But the impact can be painful, nonetheless.

Conservatives were driven out of town halls all over Somerset and far beyond in the local elections. Except right here in Sedgemoor. Today the district council remains under Conservative control. Only seven seats were lost. It was not a rout by any means. Why?

There was, inevitably, the “Brexit” factor and frustration from many voters that Britain is still part of a European Union we promised to quit in the referendum.

Sedgemoor decisively backed Leave three years ago. Local elections could have been a golden opportunity to punish the party for national mistakes. Instead we got a rap over the knuckles.

Voters round here are no fools. They know what they like, and they also know what they cannot abide. People expect their councils to run efficient services and charge sensible prices. They want a council that attracts new jobs and investment. They want to see things well done, not bodged.

I believe they get that in spades from Sedgemoor. While other districts struggle to balance the books, Sedgemoor maintains healthy balance sheets and a forward-looking attitude.

You may be thinking “well, he would say that wouldn’t he!”

I am a Conservative MP, but I have never been afraid to criticise inefficiency, profligacy and avoidable mistakes in local government, irrespective of the political party responsible.

The fact is that Sedgemoor is different. The council is recognised nationally for what it does and the way it has done it. It is an example to the whole of local government. It makes good decisions and gets listened to in Whitehall.

That is why last week’s Battle of Sedgemoor was settled bloodlessly and with no change.


MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset