With the County Council election nearly upon us (23rd August) I invited all candidates to send me some info about themselves and their campaigns. Most did that and have been featured on Bude & Beyond. That invitation remains open for candidates to inform the electorate about them and their politics.
Labour candidate, Ray Shemilt, asked if he could come and have a chat with me at the Wharf Studio, so here is what he had to say.
When I moved to Cornwall, the Labour Party was virtually invisible but a whole new generation of people have been enthused by changes in the party. Social media has helped, for it is a pathway to knowledge not governed by the views of big media moguls.
Ray is going to the Labour Conference in September as North Cornwall’s lead delegate and his ambition is to form a proper Cornish Labour Party because the needs of people here are so different to many other parts of the country. Ray, 64, was chosen from four people who stood; he is pleased that Bude has s proper choice of candidates. He is standing on a Labour ticket and proud to be upfront and transparent about that, though is clear that he is not a career politician.
Ray is not without his own problems, which he has been very honest and open about. Originally from Sussex, he developed severe rheumatoid arthritis, leaving him with constant pain and an impact on his mental health (depression and social anxiety) but he has lived in Bude since 2005, now feeling in control of his symptoms. His two daughters were educated at Budehaven. One is now a student, the other something of a musician.
He adds: I suffer awful fatigue, and constant pain but I believe in what I’m doing and I believe in the Labour Party. We’ve got to be represented. Luckily, I can drive because public transport here is virtually non-existent. I use meditation to control pain in preference to painkillers, believing in mind over matter, and I have a very supportive team behind me.
My priorities are the environment here in Bude, and the many sewage discharges, which can only get worse when the Binhamy estate is attached to the mains. I am very keen on supporting local community action groups, like BRAG, FoE, and Animal Free Research. Community action is amazing so please talk to your neighbours and get things done!
Transport options for young people also concern me. We live in a geographically isolated community with poor public transport links. The buses we do get are often old diesel rather than green buses. I believe in free public transport for under 25s, but any transport at all is a key issue around here. Sadly, Bude’s Foyer was closed some time ago lying empty since probably to be luxury apartments. Budehaven is also losing £350 per pupil in the latest round of budget cuts, with cuts also affected Bude Infants and Juniors. Cornwall Council could do a lot more for Bude.
For too long, Bude has not been in the mindset if councillors at County Hall. Like others before me, I’d want to remind Truro that Bude exists, and needs facilities like the minor injuries unit at Stratton, transport options, and more care over planning. I don’t believe the council is tough enough on enriching planning conditions. I’d also like to see solar panels on council properties.
Ray himself lives in a council house. He believes his disabilities have given him a different experience of life. He is currently having to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and believes Universal Credit has brought misery to many people. He explains:
I do suffer from social anxiety, and it takes a lot of effort for me to talk to people, but people need to be listened to and this doesn’t happen enough. I am open to anyone asking for help, of any political persuasion and of any social group. I hope people will take this opportunity to vote, but also to take the trouble to read and find out what the candidates are like and are trying to achieve for Bude. Politics affects everything we do, from rubbish collection to parking your car, so please exercise your vote.
Local government ( or localism as I prefer) needs to be much more concentrated on the needs of people living In the town. I would if elected, be more than happy to work with others for the good of the town.
Ray has toyed with the idea of politics since he was 17, fascinated by it but not actively involved. Now his health issues are under control, as he phrases it, he feels it is time to ‘step up to the plate and make a difference’.
I’d like my obituary to one day say: Ray made a difference.
Local branch meetings of the Labour Party are held monthly at the food bank on Berries Avenue.
Contact Ray for more info. 07434 890771 or firstname.lastname@example.org