Bridgwater Town Council at it’s meeting tonight pushed forward with it’s progressive agenda to tackle Climate Change, take up Transport issues, promote Culture and Diversity , engage with the Economy and to further reach out into the wider population with grants to youth, community, the environment and heritage. The council passed draft motions on Single Use Plastics, opposed Fire Service Cuts and set up a Multi-Agency Liaison Group with the Police to tackle issues raised across the town. Town Council Leader, Cllr Brian Smedley and Deputy Cllr Kathy Pearce (both Westover) agreed after the meeting that council was ‘keeping its promises, sticking to its manifesto, engaging with the public and moving forward’.
Single Use Plastics Policy Tabled
Cllr Kathy Pearce had produced a draft strategy for Single Use Plastics based on discussions at a Working Party This would now be put out to consultation and voted on at the October Council meeting. Kathy said “Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. Bridgwater Town Council is committed to taking leadership on tackling the plastic waste problem by taking responsibility for its own impact on the environment and society. This Council will work with staff and volunteers to eliminate the use of single-use plastics across its own operations and services and by all staff and volunteers, pro-actively work with partners to find positive solutions for reducing unnecessary waste plastic.The Council commits to:Eliminate all non-reusable or non-recyclable Single Use Plastics from all properties and activities related to Bridgwater Town Council;Reduce use of plastics where possible;Recycle plastics and other recyclable materials where possible.In addition, we will seek to eliminate or reduce the use of harmful chemicals (for example, cleaning chemicals) and purchase materials from environmentally friendly or renewable sources (for example, printer paper and toilet rolls).Bridgwater Town Council will work with partners and those hiring Town Council premises to provide alternative solutions to single use plastics; promote positive initiatives and campaigns for reducing plastic waste across the town; share guidance and best practice about plastic free initiatives to residents, businesses, visitors and beyond through the Council’s social media and communication channels. to assist others to become plastic free;work with Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council, community groups and partnerships to support initiatives to ensure our parks, waterways and open spaces are free from litter; use government legislation that regulates against the use of single-use plastics to support our efforts where we can; Where the use of plastics is unavoidable, the Council will encourage the use of recycled plastics, where practicable, and support manufacturers that make products from locally sourced materials. Bridgwater Town Council will work to embed these commitments into the sustainable events guidance, sustainable procurement policy, and into other key council strategies, policies and plans.”
YOUTH GRANT FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AWARDED
A Grant request from Engine Room for a grant of £1,885 to assist with workshops in the school holidays for young people aged 6 to 18 to help them explore climate change and environmental issues was requested from youth budget. Cllr Brian Smedley said “The Youth Forum has not met so far this year but the grant is urgent so we need to decide it now. The Town Council has set a budget of £10,000 for youth, which we have increased over the years and there is adequate money in this budget to meet this urgent need and this brilliant project. However, we would urge the Youth portfolio Holder to call a Youth Forum meeting and decide a policy for how the rest of the money should be spent in consultation with the young members of the forum as soon as possible.” The portfolio holder for youth was the sole vote against.
FUNDING OUR ESTATES
£60,000 was voted to support the 3 community organisations on the 3 major estates in the town. Cllr Smedley said “Town Council believes that we should allocate funds evenly between the estates and trust the democratic community organisations at the locallest level to spend these funds how best they choose according to local need. Accordingly we propose to award £20,000 to Victoria Park Community centre, £20,000 to Sydenham Community Centre and £20,000 to the Hamp Community Association.”
Cllr Mick Lerry (Victoria) made the case for the Victoria community centre, Cllr Mike Creswell (Fairfax East) for the Sydenham Community Centre, and Hamp Community Association Chairman Steve Manley spoke out on behalf of his community. All grants were approved.
TREE REPLACEMENT FUND
Bridgwater Town Council took a big step forward in their work on the climate
crisis and voted to set up a Tree Replacement Fund . Cllr Brian Smedley said “This decisions tonight comes from the disastrous policy of Somerset County Council refusing to replace the trees which they are taking down. We engaged with them and with residents to find a solution to trees under threat in Hamp Green Rise but with no success. We now have to intervene directly and work with these partners but to take the lead ourselves. We therefore need to set up a tree Fund via an arms length charity which we can seed fund and which can be used to attract specific tree replacement funding plus crowd funding from people who wish to save our trees. Hamp Green Rise needs to be the test case to see if this policy will work and then we want to build the fund and use it across the town . Trees are so important and we can’t be complicit in their wanton removal without replacing them at least like for like but at best manifold.”
The next Climate Change Forum, chaired by Cllr Li Gibson , will be on Thursday 15th August at 7pm at the Town Hall. Cllr Gibson said “Members of the will be welcome to attend. We will update on the tree situation but the main theme will be plastics”
OPPOSING FIRE SERVICE CUTS
Town Councillors added their weight to the growing campaign to oppose the proposed changes to the Fire and Rescue Service in Devon and Somerset. Councillor Smedley proposed the adoption of the FBU (Fire Brigades Union) response. This was passed unanimously
This council having considered the current consultation being run by DSFRS feels that:-
The Options proposed do not provide sufficient detail for the improvements claimed, particularly information on how the on-call system would be improved, how extra prevention and protection will be achieved, or how much would actually be re-invested into the service. It fails to recognise the excellent work Firefighters already do to prevent injuries, building damage and environmental damage, and to respond to all types of incidents.
This council feels that the data given in the consultation is flawed and has an unachievable expectation, in that there is an assumption made that after the cuts, all assets will be available at all times, giving the false impression that the risk of fire deaths will reduce if the proposals are agreed, whereas statistically it is likely that risk would increase.
The revised attendance times make no reference to properties that may be disadvantaged by the proposed changes.It should also be noted that if the proposals were to be adopted, around ⅓ of the residents of Devon and Somerset, over 600000 people, will see a slower response from the Fire and Rescue service. As such this Council calls upon DSFRS authority members to reject in full the options proposed.
You can do your bit by signing the petition.
LONG BUT POSITIVE MEETING
Bridgwater Town Council , at what was quite a long meeting, also took steps to set up a Police Liaison Group, investigate the restoration of a 19th century hand embroidered Druids Banner for display in the Town Hall, further investigate a proposal to establish a monument for Paupers Graves in the towns Bristol road cemetery, adopt a working programme for transport issues submitted by Cllr Glen Burrows and to set up a working party to devise a ‘Cultural Strategy for Bridgwater’ to be chaired by the Mayor.