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.

Mayor Goes Live as Bridgwater Enters Cyberspace

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Mayor Diogo puts Bridgwater in the driving seat

It had been a difficult week. Not only had Chuckle Brother Barry died, my pet hamster, Mr Hargreaves, had developed amnesia and kept walking into the patio door, and I’d also had to drive 8 hours through near stationary traffic all the way from North Wales to get to the Town Hall in time. Taxing at best of times, but, without a car, nearly impossible. So I wasn’t in the best of moods – which is my excuse for not smiling much. That and the fact I was missing the Leeds v Stoke match. But I was determined to support our new Mayor Diogo Rodrigues in his latest initiative to bring the town he loves into the 21st century.

‘The Mayor Goes Live’ was the first of a new series of broadcasts from Bridgwater Town Hall fronted by our new progressive young Mayor Diogo and widely available across social media, across the town and across the globe in fact. Continue reading “Mayor Goes Live as Bridgwater Enters Cyberspace”

The Long Hot Summer of 2018 and Bridgwater’s On the Move

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The town’s on the move – as is new Mayor Diogo Rodrigues, showing these visitors along the Quayside

I’m sure that it’s no coincidence that since Cllr Diogo Rodrigues was elected Mayor of Bridgwater that we’ve had nothing but Portuguese weather for the whole summer. Everything’s a lot better when it’s sunny. The football’s better and we don’t mind losing (well, let’s see how that one plays out), the town’s new cafe culture is booming and everyone’s friendly, hotels are on the way, a new Marks and Spencers has just opened after a three decade absence and there’s big plans afoot. What could possibly go wrong!

Well, we know what could go wrong…Brexit….but let’s move swiftly on. Look on the bright side…

It’s summer, it’s sunny, and so it’s time to party. Next week it’s the Quayside festival. This is what people said they wanted and so this is something the Town Council is very proactive in providing. We’ve put money into the Bridgwater Cultural Partnership and working with festival organisers Fuse Performance we’re convinced a great time will be had by all. The town will come to life and the best of local and regional artistes will be on show. Saturday July 21st – make a note of the date. Wander round the town and soak up the atmosphere. Continue reading “The Long Hot Summer of 2018 and Bridgwater’s On the Move”

Bridgwater Mayor an “Example for Young People”

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Madieran President Albuquerque and Bridgwater Mayor Rodrigues with Bridgwater-Portuguese resident Ana Luisa.

Bridgwater’s new 28 year old,Portuguese born Mayor Diogo Rodrigues continues to hit the headlines and bring some great publicity for our town at the same time. First it was a much covered Mayor Making ceremony, attended by the Portuguese Consul and which was filmed by Portuguese TV ,by the BBC and extensively in international newspapers, then it was a visit to the Czech Republic touring factories and  family centres, taking part in conferences and meeting councillors and young people. This week it’s an invitation to London to meet the President of Madiera, the Portuguese island where Diogo was born.

The meeting was held at the Casa Madeira Restaurant in Vauxhall, London where a lunch was held to celebrate his election as Mayor of Bridgwater.

The President of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque, said “The Mayor of Bridgwater, Diogo Rodrigues, is an example for other Portuguese youth to participate in public life and reach ‘the centre of decision making of political life’. He is an example for young people who want to play a role in public life and to secure a role for our community in the decision making places, and the council is a great place to start because of the principle of closeness to the people”

The President and Mayor exchanged warm words before the President invited himself to visit Bridgwater when he nexts visits the UK next year.

Continue reading “Bridgwater Mayor an “Example for Young People””

Bridgwater’s New Mayor Hits the Ground Twinning

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Diogo Rodrigues on his Czech Travels

Diogo Rodrigues is Bridgwater’s latest Mayor. 28 years old, a restaurateur and Portuguese born (on the island of Madeira) he is hitting the news everywhere he goes. Britain’s first Portuguese born Mayor, Bridgwater’s youngest Mayor and we’re checking records to see if he’s the shortest ever Mayor…but that’s a good thing as one of his themes is youth and making eye level contact appears to be paying dividends. Diogo’s first major project as Mayor was to visit the Czech Republic where he had been invited to attend an International Conference of funding and to celebrate 100 years of Czech independence. He took with him a small support group including Town Council Leader and Czech link founder Brian Smedley, Chair of the Czech Freindship Society Tim Mander, and SDC funding projects worker Julie Cooper. They packed a lot in and here’s the story.

Bridgwater twinning with the town of Uherske Hradiste in 1992 and yet again made history when it became the first British town to twin with a Czech town after the Velvet Revolution. Our shared histories go back to the Vernon Bartlett election of 1938 when Bridgwater was the only town in the UK to vote against the Munich Agreement. To read that story click here. Continue reading “Bridgwater’s New Mayor Hits the Ground Twinning”

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”