Bridgwater Town Diary

Some things what happen in Bridgwater and some equally personal thoughts about them by Westover Councillor and Town Council Leader Brian Smedley. All opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily not bonkers.

Bridgwater’s Cultural Revival – Will You Be Part Of It?

Bridgwater Town Council flies the flag(s) for the Cultural Partnership

This weekend you’ll see these multi-coloured flags all around our town and probably wonder  what they’re about and what’s going on. In fact it’s the Bridgwater Cultural Partnership raising aloft the standards of creativity and welcoming  everyone to the new Quayside Festival. The Town Council are happy to be a key sponsor of this along with Sedgemoor, the Arts Council England and all held together by expert festival organisers, Fuse Performance.

All across the town there will be events – live music, street theatre, circus skills, even opera. Just follow the flags. Continue reading “Bridgwater’s Cultural Revival – Will You Be Part Of It?”

Ightfield. Tell me more about Ightfield.

Bridgwater Councillor in a field in Shropshire

This weekend I went to Ightfield. Where? Well, I’d no idea myself. I’d assumed it was a spelling mistake and probably called Lightfield or Nightfield. But it wasn’t. It was Ightfield and it was a village in Shropshire and I’d been invited there. To a church. And to a family grave. And there were almost 200 people there, many in uniform, an MP, at least one Mayor, writers, journalists, historians and , out in front, a stand-up comedian from Liverpool .  What on earth was all this about?

I’ve absolutely no idea. I was in the wrong place and the sat nav had sent me here whilst trying to visit an old friend in Church Stretton. Continue reading “Ightfield. Tell me more about Ightfield.”

Some Things What We’re Planning

Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley

So……the 2017-18 season has kicked off. Well, in terms of Bridgwater Town Council….and there’s a few changes and a few new directions. Plus quite a few old faces. And of course lots of opportunities for the public to get involved with what we’ve got planned.

For the Town Council line-up click here.

For our Programme click here.

For our diary of Meetings click here .

For a record of Town Council meetings click here.

To find your councillor(s) or your ward click here.

Below is a calendar that will be updated…honest

A Rockabilly Romp to Celebrate Twinning Week

Red Smed putting on the style….of sorts


“Hipsters! Flipsters! And Finger Poppin’ Daddies!” (So that’s most of Highbridge ruled out) Have we got a treat for you this weekend! That’s not a question, that’s a statement. In fact we have. We’ve got Italy’s numero uno rockabilly band AFTER DARK back in Bridgwater for a whole week of twinning festivities culminating in an all star night of all stars at the Bridgwater Arts Centre on Saturday 22nd April. So here’s a final warning…Be there or be, I don’t know, cylindrical maybe.

But who exactly ARE these After Darks? What music do they play? What are their influences? And what on earth are they doing in Bridgwater? Continue reading “A Rockabilly Romp to Celebrate Twinning Week”

Born in Bridgwater???

Delivery of Child. Description ‘baby’. Stardate 16.11.89. Mary Stanley Wing, Bridgwater Hospital.

Now you can’t help where you were born. Or can you?? Although I have lived in Bridgwater for most of my life a little piece of paper tells me I was born in the fair city of Leeds. But in this town it’s about 50:50 whether you were born here or you weren’t.

For many years Bridgwater people have  had that choice. For instance, I’m writing now from the old Mary Stanley Maternity Hospital, which today is  flats, but which was once the birthplace of many Bridgwater people. In 1988 I was part of a campaign to save this building from closure and the result was that in 1989 not only did we win a small victory to save delivery facilities in Bridgwater – in the new Mary Stanley Wing at the old Salmon Parade Hospital – but my own daughter was born there that year.

Town Council launches  ‘Born in Bridgwater’ Campaign

When Bridgwater Hospital was closed we urged the maintenance of a delivery facility at the new hospital – again called the Mary Stanley Suite, after the 19th century dignitary.

At last months Bridgwater Town Council meeting, following concerns from users constantly being sent to Musgrove and a visit there by Mayor Alex Glassford (Fairfax) and Deputy Leader Kath Pearce (Westover) we decided to launch a ‘Born in Bridgwater’ campaign, to raise awareness of the options that the delivery suite presented so that people know they have the opportunity to have their children born in their town. A kind of ‘use it or lose it’ warning.

Mother of two Cllr Siobhan Wilson (Victoria) speaking at the meeting said “I would say that I think it is a shame if no babies are being born in Bridgwater now, particularly since there is a lovely new hospital in Bridgwater and a maternity unit waiting there. If this is because of staff/funding issues then we should try to help resolve these issues so that lots of new babies can be born in Bridgwater.  The new hospital is a valuable resource and I am sure many women, in the town and surrounding villages, would like to use it, rather than being sent to Taunton. Whilst it isn’t a ward with midwives on all the time if you book to give birth there then they open it for you when you’re in labour. “

A New Front opens

The people of Bridgwater unite to fight to keep their NHS maternity facilities in their town

Now the Bridgwater Trades Union Council has launched another campaign against the NHS STP project  which they believe could further set back maternity facilities in the town and have called for a public meeting to raise awareness.

A statement reads “20 years ago the people of Bridgwater fought a hard battle to keep an NHS maternity unit in the town. Will this battle have to be fought all over again?

NHS Somerset’s “Sustainability and Transformation Plan”(STP) – a semi-secret document for months – is now being forced through by the end of 2017 without any real consultation, let alone negotiation, with NHS staff, their trade unions and the wider public.

The government says that the 44 STP plans will deliver “financial balance and stability” in the form of £5 billion worth of “efficiency savings.” Are these weasel words for yet more savage cuts to services? Four community hospitals in South Devon, including Paignton, a town the size of Bridgwater, are already losing their hospitals.

The main fear of Bridgwater Trades Union Council delegates, and other local NHS campaigners, is that this STP will close our Bridgwater Hospital NHS maternity unit. Somerset’s STP is remarkably vague on local maternity details, NHS websites only state that there are no plans to close maternity units at Taunton and Yeovil, our Bridgwater unit is not even mentioned!”

STP or GO?

Saving the NHS is a joint priority for everyone in the labour movement

Dave Chapple, Bridgwater TUC Secretary, said: “In February this year, citing staff shortages among other reasons, NHS bosses cut the opening hours at Bridgwater Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit, despite being fully aware of our giant construction site at Hinkley Point, and the pressure that shorter Bridgwater hours would have on the accident and emergency wards at Musgrove Park. All over the country, towns and cities larger than Bridgwater are losing their NHS maternity units. If we are not to join them, and NHS Somerset cannot confirm our local maternity unit will stay, the whole town must be prepared to protest, as we did for the Mary Stanley twenty years ago!”

Taking up the Challenge

Bridgwater Labour Town Councillors out on the streets fighting for the NHS

Leader of the Labour Group on Somerset County Council, Leigh Redman (Bridgwater South) said “There is no doubt that the STP process will mean the NHS will suffer, and by default will mean jobs and service will suffer. I think it is simple ‘put the necessary resources in place that are needed to fund our NHS’, Bridgwater community hospital needs to be a community hospital, FUND IT APPROPRIATELY…”

Public Meeting

Dave Chapple Secretary of Bridgwater Trades Union Council launching their campaign.

Bridgwater Trades Union Council is holding an emergency meeting for NHS workers, trades unionists, and all those who use and depend upon NHS services, on Tuesday April 11th.

Speakers will tell us what they think of the Somerset STP plans as a whole, covering not just maternity but acute, mental health, and social care, and how best the public can respond.

Details of the meeting are as follows: Railway Club, Wellington Road, Bridgwater Tuesday 11th April 7.30.