At this weeks meeting of the Bridgwater Town Council Finance Committee, Westover Ward achieved a substantial ammount of funding for community projects. The committee, chaired by Town Council Leader Cllr John Turner (Labour Hamp) is comprised of 7 Labour and 1 Tory member reflecting the Political balance of the Council which Labour controls 14-2.
Each Town ward has £1,000 a year to allocate by ward members to target areas within their community as felt necessary. Westover councillors this year submitted a bid to support the work of the Inland Waterways Association in their work to clean up the Bridgwater-Taunton canal, ultimately bring it back into navigable use and to co-ordinate volunteers the length of the canal in the Westover ward which includes most of the canal as it goes through Bridgwater and the docks. The grant will also support situating an information centre at the docks which has already been moved into place.
Friarn Street Mosque
The Finance committee also unanimously endorsed a grant application of £2,500 to help the renovation and furnishing of the new Islamic Cultural Centre in Westover’s Friarn street. Rafi, a young moslem nominated by the ICC to put their case, addressed the Finance Committee saying “The Islamic community in Bridgwater previously didn’t have a place to pray and so now we have one . But more than this we want to encourage integration and avoid cultural misunderstandings. We want people to visit us and to experience Islam in a real world and practical sense. We want to work with schools, with the community and with the emphasis on effectiveness.”
Westover Councillor Brian Smedley asked the committee to “Judge the grant for the Mosque as you would for any other Church in Bridgwater which is asking for a grant for work in the community. If you have a policy of giving grants to churches then it should apply to all. People should accept the first Mosque in Bridgwater as they would any church ,take up their offer to visit their new cultural centre and respond positively to their desire for openness “.
Bridgwater Arts Centre
One of Westover, and the town’s, gems is the Bridgwater Art Centre, which was granted an additional £3,000 to upgrade computer software. This came in addition to their core grant of £10,000 which reflects the Town Councils commitment to maintain Britain’s first arts centre since Sedgemoor District Council cut it loose a few years back.
Canalside Dog Bins
Finally an appeal by Westover ward councillors for an extension to the existing budget to include further dog bins in the vicinity of the Old Taunton road canal bridge area where the new development of Manley Gardens has seen a major increase in the dog population and the lack of bins along that stretch of the canal, was supported. There will now be a site visit to establish the best location .
The new Community Impact Mitigation Fund set up by EDF is a new pot of money that community groups can be pointed at. At the Finance Committee meeting, West street’s Westfield Church was referred to this fund to apply for additional grant money.