Wessex Regionalists met in Weston Super Mare on March 5th for their Annual General Assembly. Buoyed by recent interest and an increase in membership, the Wessex Regionalists entered the Assembly with renewed vigour.
Optimism for the future success of the Party was justified as Secretary-General, David Robins, gave his publicity report which showed 1180 unique visitors to the Wessex Regionalists blogsite over the past month, with a similar figure visiting the Wessex Regionalists website. There was also an increase in followers on Twitter, proving the party was reaching a greater number of people.
Colin Bex, in his report as Party President, touched upon the subject of Europe quoting Austrian writer Robert Menasse that ‘There are two types of European, the universal and the one dimensional’. The Party President concluded that the actions of one or both of these groups could ‘Lead to the extinction of nation-states’, adding ‘Then to my mind for our purposes, here is the clue to vindicate the case for the regions to replace the vacuum left by the demise of the nation state’.
(Colin Bex's full report can be read HERE)
Europe was discussed further during the Assembly with a motion to formerly support the work of the European Free Alliance and its message that ‘Another Europe is Possible’. The Assembly accepted the motion, believing the decentralist message of the European Free Alliance, already supported by parties such as Mebyon Kernow and Yorkshire First, was close to the Wessex Regionalists vision of an EU transformed into a confederal Europe of a Hundred Flags, that rejects the current centralism of both London and Brussels. As the Party currently has a member who is a parish councillor, it is to contact the European Free Alliance with regards to membership.
Party treasurer and Wiltshire Wessex Regionalist member, Jim Gunter, raised the issue of child abuse, arguing that religious indoctrination by parents or guardians has no place is a modern, progressive society. The Assembly agreed that no child above the age of criminal responsibility should be subject to religious indoctrination of any form without their consent, and that a broad based religious education should be adhered to in all schools.
Animal welfare was also raised, with the Assembly endorsing Party policy opposing ritual slaughter, upholding the principle that animal welfare in all animal husbandry should be paramount. There were also calls to support modernisers in faiths that carry out ritual slaughter, who may also be opposed to such methods.
With the increase of support for regionalism in Kernow, the north east of England and Yorkshire, as well as Wessex, a joint statement on regionalism was proposed. This statement would be signed by the leaders of all the regionalist parties on the electoral register, and the civic nationalist Mebyon Kernow. Proposing the motion, Devon Wessex Regionalists member, Rick Heyse, stated ‘Many people are looking at devolution within England, therefore it’s important our vision is brought to the table to be considered’.
On a similar theme of putting regionalism on the table for discussion, it was agreed the Party should request Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn signs the petition for a Wessex Assembly. The Labour leader was born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, right in the heart of Wessex, is a signatory of the petition for a Cornish Assembly and is supportive of regionalism within England.
Discussions on housing and benefits took place, with the general consensus that little was being done by the Westminster parties to protect the people of Wessex. To address the issue of second homes it was felt the party should look towards a policy similar to that of Guernsey, where there is a Local Market for local residents and those whose labour is essential to local services and the economy, and an Open Market for those wishing to retire to the area from elsewhere. The Assembly agreed this would help prevent the property market from being artificially inflated and placing many properties beyond the reach of local people, as well as protecting the environment from over development.
On the subject of benefits, Party President, Colin Bex, reiterated his firm belief that monetary reform was necessary and like many progressives we should be looking towards payments for all via a Citizens Dividend (Basic Income) instead of the benefits system.
In addition to over development, green issues were raised through opposition to Trident and Hinkley Point.
Hampshire Wessex Regionalists member, Cliff Jones, expressed his concerns that the region’s transport heritage was being lost, quoting threats to the existing quay railway in Weymouth and the historic cross channel SR-N4 hovercraft based at Lee-on-Solent. In addition to this Cliff called for a ban on any development on old railway routes, as they have potential for use by trams or light rail providing an alternative to the car.
With the forthcoming local and mayoral elections, the Assembly pledged its support to Nick Xylas, the Wessex Regionalists candidate in Bristol’s Eastville ward. In his election address Nick states ‘The Wessex Regionalists are the only party standing in Bristol who put decentralism – the belief that local people should have as much political control as possible – at the heart of their philosophy’.
Party members and supporters are encouraged to help Nick as much as possible during the campaign. His election website can be found at www.wr4eastville.weebly.com
The Assembly re-elected Colin Bex as President, with David Robins as Secretary General, Jim Gunter as Treasurer, and Nick Xylas and Douglas Stuckey council members. Rick Heyse was co-opted at the earlier Council meeting as Communications Officer. Keith Southwell expressed a wish to stand as Treasurer when Jim Gunter steps down from the post in 12 months. He and Cliff Jones currently work as co-organisers for the Party in Hampshire.
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