Westover ward has been in existence for only 8 years. Set up in 2011 as part of the local government boundary changes it combined the town centre with parts of Victoria, Hamp and Quantock wards. So everything from Taunton road, West Street, most of the canal to the docks and everything in between is Westover. The name itself was the original description of the west bank settlement of the river when Bridgwater was created. It also had a secondary modern school named after it, set between Wembdon road and West Street and in 1974 merged with the Boys and Girls Grammar schools as Haygrove.
For the past ten days seventeen young Italian students have been on work experience in Bridgwater. They’ve been working in cafes, in local government and in community centres and , as is often the case in these situations, they’ve charmed their way into the hearts of the (already welcoming) locals. Why are they here? Well, they’re from Bridgwater’s Italian twin town Priverno, which we’ve been twinned with since 2015 and for their final few days they were visited by their own Mayor Anna Maria Bilancia on her own first ever visit to Bridgwater. While she was here she took the opportunity to sign the ratification of the twinning treaty with Bridgwater’s young Portuguese born Mayor Diogo Rodrigues, at a celebration of the link at Bridgwater Town Hall.
The Town Development Forum was set up 4 years ago as an initiative by the Town Council in order to widen community input into it’s decision making process and to act as a consultative body for key projects coming into the town. In the past they have considered the Northgate leisure complex, town centre improvements, Policing, the Waterways, Blake Gardens and the library, Tourism and transport initiatives. All the outcomes are fed into the town council committee system and taken on board. At the final meeting of the 2015-19 Town Council term of office, the focus was on the Town Centre and also on the future of the Post Office. The meeting was chaired by Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Westover) and attended by delegates from local community groups and business forums along with concerned residents, traders and activists. Speakers included regional managers from the Post Office and Sedgemoors Senior Economic Development Officer. in the interests of accuracy we reprint the minutes in their entirity.
For several months the Bridgwater Arts Centre had been facing a perilous future as repair works to the Georgian roof of this the countries first arts centre and a long time home to innovative community arts projects alongside exciting national and international acts were threatening to see the venue closed down. Bridgwater Town Council had been in negotiations with the Board of Directors and with owners Sedgemoor District Council throughout this period and at last night’s Town Council meeting voted through a package of measures to rescue the place.
It was all showtime and stagecalls, pomp and papparazzi and triumph and tears at Bridgwater’s mid 19th century town hall this week as the town’s young Mayor Diogo Rodrigues once more put his finger firmly on the pulse of what Bridgwater does best and launched his new ‘Youth Awards’. This year Diogo has done things differently. He’s looked at what we’ve done traditionally and tried something new. Usually Mayor’s have a ‘civic service’, always in a church, the great and good in their chains turn up and the virtues of Bridgwater extolled. This year Diogo chose not to have a Mayor’s Chaplain, so instead of a beating moral compass guided over by a confessor he put on a show right there and then. As only Bridgwater does best.