Westover councillors supported the bid by SRL promotions to establish a jazzblues cafe at 18 High street. However, the vote was tied 7.7 and rejected by the Chairmans casting vote. Below is the speech by Westover councillor Brian Smedley.
Speech to Development Committee 26.11.2013
I’m Brian Smedley and I’m one of the ward councillors for Bridgwater Westover which includes the Town centre. I spoke at the last meeting and this time I want to stress that I have been asked to speak by ALL of the Westover ward Town & District councillors and by many others who are as impressed by the initial project as they are concerned at the possible negative impact of strict interpretation of the Policy.
For us the town centre is not only the focal point to our ward it’s also the defining heart of Bridgwater and as such it needs to thrive and develop.
We need to be supporting initiatives such as the one proposed here for the High street and to encourage enterprise and to remove the scourge of vacant shops, we need to have a flexible policy towards the town centre.
Planning policies must be flexible enough to encourage the limited number of developers gingerly coming forward and therefore if others see this happening, if others appreciate the flexibility and acknowledge that this council is prepared to back them then maybe we can inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs to take up these vacant shops and revitalise our town centre.
I believe the policy can be interpreted flexibly and the additional supporting evidence provided here by the applicants could support that exception.. Broadly the proposal actually does meet the objectives of the policy and so in fact it’s up to you people here today to weigh up the issues – so I urge you to grasp the nettle , approve this and show people who are prepared to invest in our town centre that you’re prepared to support them..