Bridgwater Initiative to Expose Modern Slavery

Sian Owen with her information booklet about ‘Modern Slavery’

In 1785 Bridgwater was the first town in the country to petition against the Slave Trade, one of the greatest organised crimes against a section of humanity on an industrial scale for vast profits. Today, modern slavery continues to exist in many forms from Labour exploitation to Domestic Servitude to Sexual exploitation and even organ harvesting. In 2017 an initiative was set up by the Church of England known as the Clewer Initiative. Their website is here. However, now in Bridgwater local people are taking up the cause to raise awareness. At ‘Raging Grace’, an event at St Mary’s Church 7pm on Sunday 19th May, there will be a presence of both national and local representatives from Hidden Voices.  On  3rd September the Town Development Forum will devote an entire meeting to this subject and raise the issues with the many partner groups and agencies in town to develop a local policy on the subject.

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Tree Summit set for June 4th

Preventing Treemageddon

Trees are beautiful, trees help oxygenate the planet, trees are crucial in the fight against climate change. Who on earth would want to harm a tree? Certainly not people such as arboreculturists who have chosen this career due to their love of trees. However, at Somerset County Council workers are being put into this position by cutbacks and budget restraints. Following a public outcry when trees at Bridgwater’s Hamp Green Rise were threatened with felling this month, County ward Councillor Leigh Redman and Town Council Leader Brian Smedley, met with County officers today (Friday 17 May) and agreed a further stay of execution on the trees and an agreement for a public summit on the entire subject of the County and Districts tree felling policy. The summit meeting was set for Tuesday 4th June at 7pm at Bridgwater Town Hall. Specialists will be present and the public are encouraged to attend.

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Diogo Scoops ‘Community Hero’ Award at Pride of Sedgemoor

Diogo wins his award

Mayors don’t usually get awards. They get elected and then devote themselves to their town for a year and then go back to civilian life. Which is almost exactly what former Bridgwater Mayor Diogo Rodrigues said when he was presented with an award for ‘Community Hero’ at this years Pride of Sedgemoor gala evening at the McMillan theatre. “I was just doing what I was elected to do” said the 29 year old Leader of Sedgemoor Labour Group and Town Council Portfolio Holder for Youth. “I was quite literally shocked when I was told of this”.

The Pride of Sedgemoor Awards are organised by the Bridgwater Mercury and sponsored by local businesses. Indeed each contributing business gets to nominate their own winner for the category in question and so it was the Solicitors firm Amicus Law that nominated Diogo in the ‘Community Hero’ category saying “When taking the Mayoral Chains in May 2018, Diogo also took on the responsibility for promoting Bridgwater-and his efforts have beennothing short of astounding. He is a real community hero.” Continue reading “Diogo Scoops ‘Community Hero’ Award at Pride of Sedgemoor”

Bridgwater Breathes Again as Tree Programme Paused

Hamp Green Rise in blossom 1984 (pic Gina Bury)

Bridgwater has seen trees chopped down and left half standing over the past few months leading to a sense of despair that there was a concerted plan or maybe lack of one, by ‘the council’ to get away with this widespread destruction of our greenery. So on Friday when a post appeared on Bridgwater Past n Present facebook site claiming ‘the council had plans to chop  down most of the cherry trees in Hamp Green Rise’ more than 200 comments vented their opposition and a petition to prevent further destruction went viral. For ward councillors – who knew nothing of this – immediate investigation was needed.

Town Council Leader and Westover ward councillor Brian Smedley visited the site at once with new Town Council Climate Change portfolio holder Li Gibson and found no indication of intent by any of the 3 councils and so ,as Town had no ability, power nor desire to destroy trees, it must be one of the other 2. Someone ‘in a Sedgemoor van’ had been there and one resident said she had been told of 7 or 8 trees ‘facing the axe’.  But Sedgemoor District Council owned no trees in the area -however it did act as an agent for Somerset County. The mystery was unravelling. Continue reading “Bridgwater Breathes Again as Tree Programme Paused”

Labour Town Council Launches Radical Agenda For Bridgwater

Cllr Brian Smedley
Bridgwater Town Council Leader Brian Smedley

At the first meeting of the new Bridgwater Town Council re-elected Labour leader, Westover Councillor Brian Smedley pledged to once again honour the manifesto that the victorious councillors had stood on with commitments to Youth, Community, Transport, the Economy and Climate Change. Labour would also expand its system of Public Forums bringing the community into the heart of Council, increase its scrutiny over public spending, work with other councils where possible to deliver key infrastructure projects and build on the ground-breaking work of ex-Mayor Diogo Rodrigues in terms of youth and public engagement.

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