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.

Another First for Bridgwater as UK’s First Portuguese Mayor Takes Office

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Cllr Diogo Rodrigues, Mayor of Bridgwater, is congratulated by the Portuguese Embassy

Bridgwater has had some ‘firsts’ in its time. First town to petition against the Slave Trade (1785). First town to vote against the Munich Agreement (1938). First town where someone under the age of 21 could vote (1970) and now home to Britain’s first Portuguese born Mayor.

For the year 2018-19, Cllr Diogo Rodrigues will be Mayor of Bridgwater. Diogo was born on the Portuguese island of Madeira but has lived in Britain for most of his life. Since being elected to Bridgwater Town Council in 2015 to represent the Dunwear North ward on the Sydenham estate, Diogo has been especially active in youth matters, setting up a Youth Forum, introducing a grant system to seed fund new and existing youth projects and successfully campaigned to increase that fund this year. At the age of 28 Diogo is also Bridgwater’s youngest ever Mayor. Continue reading “Another First for Bridgwater as UK’s First Portuguese Mayor Takes Office”

Bridgwater Town Council: Leader’s Report 2018

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Brian Smedley,Leader of Bridgwater Town Council

Bridgwater Town Council was formed in 2003 and we pride ourselves on being the closest elected authority to the people. We remember and aspire to the achievements of the ancient Borough of Bridgwater, sadly replaced by Sedgemoor District Council, or as we have called it, Direct Rule from Cheddar, in 1974. However, one major change this year has been the replacement of Sedgemoor’s former chief exec with Bridgwater girl Allison Griffin, and we are already noticing a greater degree of co-operation between our authorities. In Somerset we have 3 tiers of local government – county, district and town or parish. Sometimes this can be confusing as to who is to blame. But inevitably, it’s not us. So we therefore also welcome the current conversation about local government reform based around Unitary status and will argue for the strongest powers for the locallest authorities.

Bridgwater Town Council has opened wide its doors over the past few years through our system of Forums whereby members of the public, other authorities, service providers and so on can join with councillors in specialist themed meetings relevant to the predominant issues in our town.  Our Town Development Forum has looked at all our major projects with particular emphasis on the Northgate situation. It was here that town and district opposed each other for several years over the demolition of the Sedgemoor Splash and it’s threatened replacement with a massive Tesco Extra. Through working together now we are agreed on a leisure led project, the retention of green space, a primary school and a small scale supermarket which complements rather than has a negative effect on our town centre, and provides the crucial linkage with the docks via the Celebration mile.. Continue reading “Bridgwater Town Council: Leader’s Report 2018”

“Are You Being Conservatived?”: A Cheery Christmas Message

Christmas is a time for thinking about those less fortunate than yourself. For me that’s 2 blokes I met in Dorking last week and most of the Burton Albion Fan base on Boxing Day. But lets for a change think of those MORE fortunate – the Conservatives.

In Bridgwater we thought we’d got rid of them, but we haven’t. 14 Labour Town councillors and 1 Tory  yet there they are, appearing from out of the blue, getting involved in our lives and making those little decisions on our behalf that always turn out so bad. Bridgwater may be a solid Labour town but every now and then it’s the Tories who run Sedgemoor, or the Tories who run Somerset, or the Tory we send to Westminster, that seem to always pop up with that all important final say. Continue reading ““Are You Being Conservatived?”: A Cheery Christmas Message”

‘Minding your own Business’ – The one where Sedgemoor has a vision and holds a conference

Cllr Lerry and Smedley, District and Town Labour Leaders, drop in on SDCs ‘Business’ conference and ‘expect more’

Soooo, the Managing Director of EDF Energy, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, gets into a cab on his way to Sedgemoor District Council’s ‘Made in Somerset’ Business Conference at the McMillan Theatre and the taxi driver says “Oh yes mate, Bridgwater’s the place to be these days, don’t need to bother with yer Tauntons, and it’s yer ‘Inkley Point that’s what it is.” Well, true or not it was a good opening line for a Conference dedicated to that very premise – but is it true? I went along to the event and took copious notes and a few photos.

Continue reading “‘Minding your own Business’ – The one where Sedgemoor has a vision and holds a conference”

Bridgwater 2017: A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …..Then again Dickens always was a  bit of a whinger. And a tad indecisive. Two sides to every story? Ha! When’s that ever got anyone anywhere.

Meanwhile, back in Bridgwater….

Continue reading “Bridgwater 2017: A Tale of Two Cities”