Labour bid to include Magistrates Court in Council budget voted down at Sedgemoor

Is it tumbleweed connection time for the Magistrates court?
Is it tumbleweed connection time for the Magistrates court?

At todays Budget set meeting of Sedgemoor District Council a Labour bid to increase spending for Bridgwater was rejected by the ruling Tory group.

The Labour group had put forward three amendments .The first amendment was for £500K to meet the funding gap for the first phase of the Celebration Mile, relating to the enhancement of Bridgwater Station. Labour leader Cllr Mick Lerry (Bridgwater Victoria) said “The Tories denied there was a funding gap, but the Consultant’s document stated that 1.5 million was needed for the Station improvements and at the moment only 800K had been provided by the LEP.”

The amendment was defeated along with another amendment to increase income generation by allowing the Council to access expertise and skills to market new ventures for the Council to generate income, over and above planning fees and parking receipts.

Cllr Lerry had submitted a further bid  request 200K for the purchase of the Magistrates Court but this was again refused by the  Controlling Tory Group. Cllr Mick Lerry stated: “ This  was a real opportunity to use the Magistrates Court for a shared Council chamber, while leasing extra space at Bridgwater House. The accommodation on site could also be used to house residents and there were other opportunities to develop around the Courts because of the large footprint which included the parking area. However, once again the Tories refuse to invest in Bridgwater”

Westover councillor Brian Smedley said “The urgency to bring this extra bid today was because Sedgemoor were not likely to call the meeting of their Community Right to Bid panel before the Auction on Tuesday. However, this was nevertheless an ideal opportunity for very little outlay to save a valuable piece of our heritage for future generations and sadly they’ve turned it down. Now we are at the mercy of the market and the auctioneers hammer – but who’s to say a benefactor with a sense of community spirit won’t come forward at the 11th hour.”

Cllr Smedley has written to developers McCarthy and Stone, who are building residential units on the site of the adjacent former Police station, to consider investing in the Courthouse on behalf of the community.