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.

The Boy Done Good

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Mayor of Bridgwater, Diogo Rodrigues, goes ‘back to his roots’

Since becoming Mayor of Bridgwater, Diogo Rodrigues has not only dragged the role into the 21st century, he’s transformed how Town Councillors interact with the public, engaged with young, old and inbetweeners alike and broadcast the fame of Bridgwater around the globe. The boy from Madeira has done a good job, and to top off his year he took a small Bridgwater delegation back to the island in the sun from whence he came. Plus, a backpack full of Bridgwater tourism brochures.

And I went with him. On Madeira they constantly told us how they’d won ‘best island in the world’ awards on numerous occasions. As someone who had grown up on Anglesey I wanted to check out this claim……. Continue reading “The Boy Done Good”

2018: A Review of the Year that Bridgwater went Ballistic

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Town Council Leader contemplates the future by looking back at the past.

2018 has seen Bridgwater step up a gear as it strides proudly out onto the world stage with Its newfound wealth, prestige and influence (ref- The Gospel according to Sedgemoor District Council Dec 2018).  It is surely no coincidence that in the same year that Bridgwater banned single use plastics, launched its first tourism brochure and elected its first Portuguese Mayor, an American spacecraft actually landed on the red planet and sent back to us the actual sound of wind on Mars, England came 2nd in the commonwealth games and Leeds United are deservedly at the top of the Championship. All mankind’s ills have been cured, everybody agrees with each other about Brexit and climate catastrophe is further away than it ever was. Apart from here on earth.

Continue reading “2018: A Review of the Year that Bridgwater went Ballistic”

Bridgwater – Delivering the Future

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Town Councillors Smedley, Pearce and Wilson at the Sedgemoor Business Confernece.

When the powerful and progressive Bridgwater Borough Council was dissolved by the Local Government reforms of the early 70s, the aim was to bring town and countryside together in new unified ‘Districts’. Originally ours was going to be called Bridgwater Bay -a name which would maintain the key position of Bridgwater in any new authority. But people outside the town didn’t like that and so they came up with Sedgemoor. Today it’s very clear that the aim was the submersion of Bridgwater as a junior part of the district with the reality of the system being ’Direct Rule from Cheddar’. And that’s how it’s been for nearly 50 years. But now there’s a whole new future ahead of us here in Sedgewater and this became clear at this weeks ‘Sedgemoor Business Conference-Challenging Perceptions’’ at the McMillan Theatre. Town Council Leader Brian Smedley was at the event and believes it’s clearer now than ever that Sedgemoor needs Bridgwater  and there’s never been a stronger case for working together. But…..is that even possible? Let’s see.

Continue reading “Bridgwater – Delivering the Future”

The Times They Are A Changing for ‘Multicultural Bridgwater’

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Town Council Leader Brian Smedley speaks up for Bridgwater’s multicultural present while wearing a Timorese garland scarf thing (it’s called a Salenda actually).

The times they certainly are a changing. How right Bob Dylan was when he wrote that song, and now, only 54 years later, can we see it here in our own town. With Montenegrins at our carnival, East Timorese in our factories and a 28 year old Portuguese Mayor, Bridgwater is becoming truly multicultural.

Times have changed. And that’s a good thing.

Bridgwater has had Mayors since 1468 when John Kendale (of Kendale road fame) became our first. Having a Mayor was the symbol of a town being granted certain local powers and rights. In Bridgwater, our Mayor is a symbol of that tradition, an ambassador for our town and the first citizen for the year he or she is in office. We change Mayors every year. It’s not a paid job – although Mayors do have a community budget to spend as they see fit, and they’re chosen (by secret vote) from amongst and by the 16  elected Town Councillors. Each person of course brings something different to the role. Which is also a good thing. Continue reading “The Times They Are A Changing for ‘Multicultural Bridgwater’”

A New Focus on Bridgwater Town Centre

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Mayor Diogo puts the case for a more vibrant town centre

This year, Bridgwater Town Council has taken Tourism as one of our priorities. With increasing numbers of people coming to the town and a growing number of hotels to accommodate them the interest has never been greater. To capitalise on that we are bringing out new tourism literature which we will be launching on carnival weekend, when the town multiplies 4-fold. But the crucial thing about increased momentary prosperity is sustainability and creating a legacy for the future. The regeneration of key areas of Bridgwater must primarily leave it’s mark on our town centre. New, young Town Mayor , Diogo Rodrigues, is bringing the Mayoralty into the 21st century, and he has been giving this some thought. I asked him to put his thoughts into words. So he did.

We are a wonderfully diverse town with pockets of creativity, with areas of innovation and with high skilled educational opportunities available for our young, not to mention our rich history which we can all get a small taste of from the Blake Museum. With our town ever changing and developing into an area of interest for people of many backgrounds, we often overlook what our town has to offer and how we can further build on it.” Continue reading “A New Focus on Bridgwater Town Centre”