Town Council Approves Emergency Budget and Relaunches Grant Schemes

Bridgwater Town Council meetings now on Zoom

At the Town Council meeting held on 20th August 2020, Bridgwater Town Council came out of its summertime period of reflection fighting. Town Council Leader Brian Smedley (Westover, Labour) proposed an emergency budget which preserved jobs and services within the Town Council , provided the necessary level of support for the key community centres around the town and at the same time reopened the grants applications for General grants and Youth. Cllr Smedley said “The Town Council had presented a very adventurous budget at the start of the year. We’d taken on extra staff and increased responsibilities including taking over the cemeteries from Sedgemoor, but we also needed to generate income to pay for this, which is why we have refurbished the town hall and let it out to tenants. This would have combined with our normal hire fees to generate the income we need. However, because theatre usage has been hit and we also chose to give a rent holiday to our tenants because of the effects of Covid on their businesses, we have needed to temporarily tighten the budget to meet this. We have done this now, thanks in large part to the expert work of Town Clerk David Mears, and we are now pleased to say that we are going through a modest relaunch at no extra expense to the tax payer and with no loss to jobs and services.”

Cllr Julie Cordiner , Portfolio Holder for Youth at Bridgwater Town Council

Youth Grants Now Available

Cllr Julie Cordiner (Labour, Victoria) is the Portfolio Holder for Youth. She said “We are now relaunching the Youth grants and when schools reopen in September we will again set up our Youth Forum so that the young people themselves can discuss where the grants are best needed. “

Future Plans for Transport

Cllr Glen Burrows-Chair of the Town Transport Forum

Cllr Glen Burrows (Labour, Eastover) is the Portfolio Holder for Transport and has already relaunched the popular Transport Forum and brought through several recommendations. Cllr Burrows said “Our Transport Strategy emphasises the importance of reviewing parking provision and controlling car use in the town centre and  will  discuss this with representatives of other council authorities and local organisations. Our other recommendations include -BTC to call for provision of EV charging facilities as an integral part of all planning development, to assist with climate emergency controls, BTC to call for a review of town centre parking with introduction of 20 mph speed limit and chicanes where practical, and improved cycling/walking access to docks and town centre. “

Docks and Meads a Priority

kathy pearce
Cllr Kathy Pearce Portfolio Holder for Community focuses on waterways issues

Deputy Leader of Council, Cllr Kathy Pearce (Labour, Westover) is also Portfolio Holder for Community. In her report she outlined several key measures relating to the Docks and the Meads saying “A socially distanced meeting was held, including boat owners and the Inland Waterways Association, to discuss the current uncertainty over the future of the docks. It became apparent during discussions was that it is vital for SCC to retain ownership of the docks, despite their threats to auction them. It is also imperative that CRT undertake their legal obligation to carry out the dilapidation works. If neither of these things happen, then there is the risk of years of legal wrangles over responsibilities whilst further deterioration takes place. In the meantime, we continue to work with boat owners and key partners to support boat owners and investigate future viable management options. Regarding the Bascule Bridge: We await the publication of the report on the condition of the bridge from SCC, despite the investigations being undertaken many months ago. Concerns continue to be raised with me regarding its poor condition. It is a significant heritage asset, being a Listed structure and the first bascule bridge to be constructed, pre-dating Tower Bridge. On the subject of Bowerings Mill: I am pleased to report that SDC Planning Officers rejected a recent planning application because it did not fulfil the heritage criteria.”

Cllr Pearce further added “With regard to the Meads: Meetings continue to try to resolve the long-running dilemma of public open space versus grazing on the Meads. We are currently discussing options to control the grazing so that it is a viable option for all parties.”

Bridgwater Town Council Zoom meetings are available on line.