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.

Dear Queen, about these shopping trolleys…..

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Bridgwater, redefining itself as a tourism destination….

This week a dead cow floated along the River Parrett and came to rest amongst the shopping trolleys under Bridgwater’s famous town bridge. Later that day it floated away. And then came back again on the next tide. For Bridgwater Town Council Leader ,Brian Smedley, who was in the middle of guiding a party of tourists from Bristol Civic Society around the town, this was the last straw. But when he contacted Sedgemoor District Council they told him to contact the Environment Agency. Then when he contacted the Environment Agency they said they wouldn’t remove it as it wasn’t a flood hazard and would probably just float away. It did. But then floated back. Then he contact Somerset County Council who, apart from not having any money to do pretty much anything at the moment, also totally denied all responsibility. For a couple of days a dead cow has been floating up and down our river. But for a year or more a couple of dozen discarded shopping trolleys have also come to characterise Bridgwater at low tide. And no one seems to want to do anything about that either. So on deeper investigation Cllr Smedley discovered that in fact the river bed from shiny sea to Blake Bridge on Broadway is in fact designated responsibility of the Crown Estates. Finally finding the responsible party he wrote to them to sort it out at once. The actual letter is attached herein but the first draft, recovered from the Town Hall recycling centre, you can find reproduced below…

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D Day. Where They Fought them on the Beaches – So that we didn’t have to.

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Thoughts of D Day

This week was D-DAY. Although you may not have noticed. On ‘actual’ D-Day, my Grandad, Sid Wright, landed a tank on actual Sword Beach and lost an actual finger in the process. It never grew back. My Grans brothers (the Cardiss Brothers, hitherto a less than popular Leeds based vaudeville act, who had also , as twins, fought each other in the finals of the pre-war Yorkshire area Fish-Supper-Weight boxing championships) signed up together for World War 2 to fight fascism and had died together at Tobruk in the African deserts. And my dad (no relation) had been on the aircraft carriers on the arctic convoys keeping  the Red Army supplied with tanks, guns and mittens, in order to maintain the heroic Eastern Front that had been pushing back Hitler in grimmer than grim fighting for the previous 3 years while Britain stood alone. With only Russia, America, China and the Commonwealth for allies. So when it came to my turn to drive a tank into battle and face down our countries enemies I woke up and thankfully remembered I wasn’t even in the army.

I wasn’t in the army because I didn’t have to be. After D-Day, that generation of all our families had fought and defeated Fascism and united a continent that had been at war with itself for 2000 years, give or take a millennium. We now have a small professional army of people who actually want to be in it and are trained to be good at it. Yes for nearly 50 years they stood nose to nose in the centre of Europe facing down the Warsaw Pact countries, but never a shot was fired. And after 1989 they all gave up that cold war and joined us in our united and peaceful Europe that everyone’s fathers and grandfathers, mothers and aunties, had all fought for. So that their children and their children’s children didn’t have to go through the same thing ever again. Continue reading “D Day. Where They Fought them on the Beaches – So that we didn’t have to.”

How Do I Vote? Well, if it’s an ‘Election’-VOTE LABOUR

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A Labour voters thoughts on who you should vote for in the European elections, with some unsurprising conclusions

What did the Europeans ever do for us? Well, they brought us Proportional Representation for one thing. And PR means you can vote for who you want and it means there’s no such thing as ‘Tactical Voting’. Lib Dems -who are trying desperately to claw back the 1 seat they lost in South West England are at it again trying to convince people that to stop Brexit you have to vote ‘tactically’ and implying (well, in fact saying) that this means voting for them. They are wrong of course. The PR system we have means you aren’t voting to stop  Brexit, UKIP or the Tories (although the last lot are doing a pretty good job of stopping themselves) you’re voting for who you WANT to be in power in Europe when all the votes are in next Monday. I will be voting LABOUR.

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The Spoils of War

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As the smoke clears….

As the smoke lifts from the battlefield and the carnage reveals itself , our thoughts turn to those that fell, those that survived, why it all happened in the first place and how we can avoid it all happening again. Thus it is in war and thus it was in the local elections. The bravest fell and the requiem bell rang mournfully loud and clear. But did it? There were 707 spoilt ballot papers across Sedgemoor. 23 of them in Westover. But actually I had a majority of 224 so why should I care about the 23 . But I do and so it’s worth looking into. Why did 23 people out of  4072 feel they were sending a message by spoiling their ballot paper and why did the 1704 people, who did go out to vote in Westover (and were the ones who chose their councillors) realise that spoiling your paper was as pointless as it was failing to understand the fragile democracy that we have and that generations had fought for. I bet the people that spoilt their ballot papers when Hitler got voted in back in 1933 were kicking themselves shortly afterwards. When they weren’t being kicked by the Gestapo that is..

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This is a LOCAL Election for LOCAL People

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Thursday 2nd May

Labour’s National Executive Committee are quite right to remind people that the local elections this Thursday are nothing to do with Brexit. Here at Bridgwater Town Council or there at Woolavington Parish Council or down stream at the People’s Republic of Otterhampton, none of us can deliver either Brexit OR a ‘Second Referendum’ no matter how many political leaflets people rip up in front of us. British democracy is alive and well and living in a ballot box near you this Thursday and if people decide not to turn up to vote because ‘there’s no democracy anymore’ then well, someone else will be deciding for them who runs their local council. Because even if just one person turns up to vote then someone gets in. I mean, it’s not Brussels that empties your bins -even though it might feel like it on occasion.

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