Local Businessman Endorses Lib Dems

The Conservatives are traditionally considered the "Party of Business" but in Taunton that title may be moving. Over recent months "Taunton People for Change", a campaign group of local residents and business people, has spoken out against the current Conservative Council Leadership. Now the Director of Cooks Commercials, a local family firm in Taunton with no previous links to the party, has given his backing to the local Lib Dems. He believes their team of Councillors supported him when the Conservative Councils indecisiveness and lack of communication put his business at risk.

Lib Dem candidates Habib Farbahi (far left), Simon Nicholls (centre right) and Bev Fernandes (far right) at Cooks depot

Lib Dem candidates Habib Farbahi (far left), Simon Nicholls (centre right) and Bev Fernandes (far right) at Cooks depot

Over two years ago the Council went to auction the land Cooks Commercials operates from, which they'd been renting for years before then. They did this at first without telling the business or giving them the opportunity to put in a bid. Eventually the Council allowed them to bid and accepted their offer to buy the land, but their director believes that without the Liberal Democrats helping him navigate the Council's bureaucracy this wouldn't have happened. This nearly put the local firm out of business and once again demonstrated the Council’s inability to support existing businesses in Taunton.

Director Stephen Cook explained “When the current administration at the Council began to auction off our leasehold site without our knowledge it put my family through hell and back worrying about the business, not to mention our employees. The two and a half years of indecisiveness and inability to understand what was at stake meant we could have lost the business altogether. All we wanted was the chance to stay put to give some security to our customers and staff, instead the Conservative led Council seemed to be going out of their way to make our lives extremely difficult”.

Lib Dem Councillors then took up the company’s plight with Council leaders. “We weren’t involved with the Lib Dem party at all, we just asked them for help and advice, they really listened to us as a local business, and they didn’t let go when it came to giving us a voice in the Council. In the end we got our chance to put a bid to the officers at the market rate and I’m delighted that as a result the firm’s future in Taunton is now secured. The Lib Dems deserve our thanks for taking up our case. I really think we need a new team in charge at the Council and to be honest I’ve been really impressed with how the Lib Dems recognise that growing local businesses is vital to Taunton, they’ve got my vote”.

Asked to comment Liberal Democrat Councillor Habib Farbahi said, "When Stephen contacted me I was happy to help; the Council needs to get the best value it can out of the land it owns and that will sometimes mean selling it, but by not working with Cooks to give them a chance to bid they not only put a local business at risk but also could missed out on the offer and had to accept a lower auction price as a result. That would have been a waste both of public money and of a valuable local business and employer. I'm delighted that the Council got a good price for the land which i hope they can invest prudently to sustain existing and attract more businesses to our county town.  Cooks Commercial's future is now secure as a local employer. It's a win-win for Taunton."

Scott Berry