Bridgwater Town Council Starts New Civic Year and looks back on Old

Town Council Leader Councillor Brian Smedley looks back on the year gone by

On Friday May 12th 2017  Cllr Graham Granter took over from Cllr Alec Glassford to become the latest Mayor of Bridgwater thus launching the 2017-18 Civic Year for the town.

At the first Town Council meeting of the new year, on Thursday 16th June, Town Council Leader Brian Smedley summed up the year gone by and laid out the Town’s Forward plan which would see a focus on Youth, Community and the Arts and would include an emphasis on Tourism , Policing and Transport. Once again, councillors would be encouraged to take leading roles in the community by fronting specialist areas while the doors of the Town Hall would remain wide open to the public through an increased system of Forum based activities.

Westover District Councillors Kath Pearce & Brian Smedley
Westover Town and District Councillors Brian Smedley and Kathy Pearce as Leader and Deputy Leader of Bridgwater Town Council


  • We established a new more open and accountable committee structure within council including a system of Forums with community delegate base and appointing lead members to key areas in order to deliver the manifesto.
  • A ‘Forward Plan’ was established with a programme of work for the year and targets.
  • Co-operation with Sedgemoor District Council was a key strategy and 5 top priorities were identified.
Priority Year end update
Ø  Bridgwater Town Centre  & Celebration Mile Work with Sedgemoor to achieve movement on upgrade of town centre (ML)

Tourism potential for town and review of promotional materials (BS)

Ø  Northgate & Town Development Forum. Town Development Forum established and BTC accepted as key consultee (BS)
Ø  Hinkley Point + Mitigation funding for Bridgwater Liaison with SDC regarding CIM projects (LR)
Ø  Waterways & Navigation Work with IWA, CRT, EH & SDC to achieve best navigational result for Bridgwater, focus on Docks CIM bid (KP)
Ø  Bigger Bridgwater Opening up Town Hall, better promotion,extending boundaries (BS)

Expand Youth work through funding of youth initiatives and Roller Coaster (DR)

Promote town centre ‘Quayside‘ festival (BS)-scheduled July 29th


The Annual Town meeting further identified key areas of work for the Town Council and these were grouped into actions, listed below with year end updates

1 Increased Community rep BS Expanded Forum system-TDF, Transport, Youth, Culture, Twinning
2 Greater public access to Town Hall LR Opened Bridgwater Room (Old Council Chamber) used at Mayor Making
3 Co-operation with Sedgemoor BS 5 working priorities agreed (below)
4 Police surgeries & beats BS Continue 1st agenda item policy/PCC visit June 29th
5 EDF/HPC CIM  funds LR Target key legacy project-Town Centre/ S.Bridgwater/ Docks/Taunton rd Ponds/ Bristol rd
6 Greater attention to Heritage BS Closer co-operation with civic society via planning ctte
7 Reviewing Town Boundaries BS Report to boundaries commission upon next review opportunity
8 Waterways & navigation KP Work with Inland Waterways Association on Barrier/docks/increase navigation-river/ canal
9 Cultural partnership SW Co-ordinate arts provision/ support town centre ‘Quayside’ Festival
10 Better promotion of Bridgwater BS Review and upgrade tourism resources/work with SDC
11 Celebration Mile ML Ensure action at either end plus focus on town centre
12 Sustainable towns KP Widen vision of renewables, transition towns, energy efficiency
13 Northgate development BS Co-operate with SDC & SCC to achieve green space ,leisure use ,Town Centre comp


Bridgwater’s ornate town hall interior

JUNE; Refurbishment of the Town Hall was complete and plans underway to increase usage of the building. The next phase of work was to be the refurb of the ‘Old Council Chamber’ aka The Bridgwater Room.

There was concern at the underuse of beds in the Bridgwater Hospital which BTC undertook to investigate.

JULY ; Town Development Forum 12.7.16 Looked at the Waterways and Tidal Barrier. BTC developed its policy on waterways and the tidal barrier supporting the long term re-opening of the docks, canal and making the river navigable. We engaged with the Inland Waterways Association to devise a workable strategy

Dave Loveridge (Eastover) leads the Town Council’s ‘Town Centre Walkabout’.

Town Transport Forum 19.7.16 BTC supported the policy of a County-wide transport forum

AUGUST: BTC maintained its policy of inviting the Police to make a presentation at each meeting. Sgt Ryan Edwards responded consistently to this policy and kept the council well informed. Blake Gardens was a major concern.

Cllr Loveridge led the first of several Town Centre walkabout to identify priorities for Town Centre.BTC supported a CIM bid for town centre refurb including street furniture. A second CIM bid for walking and cycling in South Bridgwater was backed by BTC and both would be fronted by Cllr Redman

BTC agreed to involve the Civic Society in its planning panel to help identify heritage priorities.

Cllr Diogo Rodrigues at the ‘Youth Forum’

At the meeting Cllr Rodrigues presented a paper which featured a report on ‘Isolation and Loneliness’ from a conference he had attended in relation to poor rural public transport.

BTC agreed to rescue the Broadway clock and seek future location.

SEPTEMBER: The Government announced the final ‘go ahead’ for the Hinkley Point project members noted the advantages and disadvantages but resolved to work with EDF in order to achieve what benefits for the town may be on offer.

Town Transport Forum 13.9.16 Chair Cllr Brown had furthered negotiations with county portfolio holder Fothergill but had been knocked back . Bridgwater Fair – Ward members took part in the annual Fair review meeting with Sedgemoor.

Town Councillor Siobhan Wilson “Culture is vital for human beings. I think it is necessary for our minds and hearts, but it is also vital for local economies”

A Bridgwater Cultural Partnership was established bringing together the arts bodies in the town with Cllr Siobhan Wilson as rep

BTC engaged in the Tidal Barrier stakeholder meeting and confirmed it’s support for Tidal Barrier option 4 location and Thames Barrier style model.

OCTOBER: BTC supported the ‘Bridgwater Together’ project working with migrant groups and trades unions. A Festival event was held in the Engine Room

BTC engaged strongly with the extremely disruptive EDF/SCC highway ‘improvements’ project on Bristol road through the EDF/HPC transport forum and Eastover ward councillors

The Police were under pressure to deal with the growing incidences of gang related ASB in the town centre

NOVEMBER; Bridgwater Carnival was the key event –BTC nominated Cllr Redman as lead member. Fireworks on the Friday night was a key BTC sponsored event.

Snowflakes and Shopping was organised by the Town Team with BTC input.

History comes to life on the Art Centre stage

Bridgwater History Day organised by BTC in conjunction with civic society, museum and art centre.

Staff and Premises :- Cllr Lerry chaired a working party to review BTC staff and premises. The Pensions position was clarified, minimum salary level raised to £8.04 ph and to living wage commission rate from 1.4.17 with differentials maintained by raising salary points by 2 for all staff from 1,4,17

DECEMBER; Town Transport Forum 6.12.16 Transport Forum members urged BTC to maintain its position of support for a county-wide transport forum. BTC also wrote to Cross Country trains to urge more stops at the station.

JANUARY 17:  The Bridgwater Cup was awarded to Kim Dodden.

The Budget for 17-18 was set at Finance ctte on Jan 5 and Full Council on Jan 12.Focus would be on Youth and community event support. A continuation budget be adopted requiring a BTC precept of 54.00 on Band D

Mayor Glassford with Mayoress Liz Leavy

The Mayor raised concerns in the press regarding reduction of opening hours at Bridgwater Hospital and undertook a visit there with the Deputy Leader.

FEBRUARY; The Mayor,Cllr Alec Glassford and Mayoress Cllr Liz Leavy, held their civic service at the Baptist Church with their chaplain Rosemary Eaton

Town Development Forum 28.2.17 Looked at the Local Plan consultation and incorporated within BTC response.

MARCH: A ‘Grants Accountability Working Group’ was established to confirm that procedures were robust.

BTC adopted a neighbourhood plan. This was undertaken by Cllr Lerry.

Cllr Pearce organised a presentation on Flood and Emergency contingencies by Jacob Forgham on behalf of Somerset Local Authorities Civil Contingencies Unit.Cllr Brown had resigned from BTC. Her role was as chair of Transport temporarily assumed by Cllr Loveridge. BTC resolved to launch a ‘Born in Bridgwater’ campaign in support of the underused maternity facilities. Members voted to rename the Burgess Room as the ‘John Turner Room’.

A major summer event would go ahead under the title ‘Quayside Festival’ . BTC had earmarked some £7,000 for the project to support Bridgwater Cultural Partnership involvement

Bridgwater Town Council back the 20 MPH campaign

Town Transport Forum; 16.3.17 BTC resolved to support the 20MPH speed limit campaign for all school locations

Town Development Forum 21.3.17 BTC resolved to pursue a tourism agenda for the following year

APRIL; The 3rd Annual Twinning Conference was held at the Angel Place and at the Art Centre

Cllr Lerry produced a feasibility report from business contacts for a Trade Mission to our Italian twin town  Priverno.

Deborah Munton addressed BTC with concerns about social care services by SCC. BTC resolved to investigate

BTC resolved that Bridgwater become a ‘Frack Free Zone’

Mayor Making 2017. Picture from Bridgwater News.

MAY:Cllr Graham Granter was elected as Mayor for 2017-18 with Cllr Rodrigues as his deputy.

The Annual Town Meeting was held on 11 May and the Leader presented the annual report. The meeting also included a large and angry presence by critics of the Somerset Care organisation whose Chief Executive and Chairman were making a presentation.

Public issues raised at the meeting included improvements to the docks, access routes to the new Northgate school and affordable housing.Finance ctte of 31.5.17 revised core funding for Art Centre to 15k + 5k upon submission of business plan in September, £7k for BCP/ Quayside festival


Ward Grants BTC had a system of Ward Grants whereby ward councillors could spend up to £1,000 per year

ward 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 remainder
Fairfax 1,500 1,500
Eastover 750 2,250
Hamp 300 2,700
Westover 700 621 1,679
Wyndham 600 600 1,800
Victoria 1,000 450 1,550
Dunwear 3,000