It was only a couple of years ago that Bridgwater Town Council blazed the trail in ‘frack free’ declarations of intent. Since then some 17 towns and parishes across Sedgemoor, Exmoor and the Quantocks have also declared themselves likewise. Today it was the turn of Sedgemoor District Council, passing as it did, a unanimous motion from Cllr Kathy Pearce (Labour, Westover) and seconded by council leader Cllr Duncan McGinty (Con, East Polden) to declare Sedgemoor a Frack Free Zone.
At Augusts council meeting motions from all political parties came forward with varying views on fracking and so the issue was submitted to the Community Scrutiny committee which is chaired by cllr Pearce. After a full investigation into the issues the Scrutiny Committee composited the motions from the different parties to formulate a policy which could be put to the next full council meeting.
Call for Ethical Investments
Kathy’s motion called for Sedgemoor to be declared a Frack Free zone, to oppose unconventional onshore oil and gas exploration, to explore investing in ethical investments, to write to the Secretary of State seeking to remove Sedgemoor from licensed areas and to encourage Somerset County Council to do the same. Continue reading “And Now It’s ‘Frack-Free Sedgemoor’”
Bridgwater speakers led the way today at the County Regulation Committee hearing to decide on the transport of intermediate nuclear waste to Hinkley Point from sites as far away as Dungeness and Sizewell. Bridgwater’s Labour County Councillors Leigh Redman and Dave Loveridge were joined by Town Council Leader Brian Smedley along with Civic Society Spokesman Alan Hurford and Stop Hinkley Expansion’s Sue Aubrey, in arguing the case against allowing a precedent that would see nuclear waste brought IN to the Hinkley Site. After a 2 hour meeting at Shire Hall the County Councillors present unanimously rejected the move. The Proposal was for a variation of condition 3 (waste storage) of planning permission 3/32/16/018 to ALLOW importation of size reduced intermediate level waste (ILW) skips from Magnox’s Oldbury, Sizewell A and Dungeness A sites to Hinkley Point A for interim storage at the on-site interim storage facility (ISF).
This week has seen angry protests across the country against un-elected Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnsons announced intention to prorogue parliament in order to silence opposition and force through a no deal Brexit. In Bridgwater demonstrators gathered around the statue of arch Parliamentarian Robert Blake who had famously fought a civil war to defend the people’s rights against attempts by the ruling class and their unelected King to shut down the democratic institutions of the people. Other demonstrations took place in Taunton, Weston Super Mare, Bath and Bristol with ‘Stop the Coup’ being the common theme.
Bridgwater Town Councillors added their weight to the growing campaign to oppose the proposed changes to the Fire and Rescue Service in Devon and Somerset. Town Council Leader Councillor Brian Smedley (Westover) proposed the adoption of the FBU (Fire Brigades Union) response This was passed unanimously. Cllr Smedley said “The motion follows on from a motion passed at Sedgemoor District Council on Wednesday signed by all the Political parties ratcheting up the pressure on the Fire Authority to reconsider its drastic course of action. ”
This council having considered the current consultation being run by DSFRS feels that:-
The Options proposed do not provide sufficient detail for the improvements claimed, particularly information on how the on-call system would be improved, how extra prevention and protection will be achieved, or how much would actually be re-invested into the service. It fails to recognise the excellent work Firefighters already do to prevent injuries, building damage and environmental damage, and to respond to all types of incidents.
This council feels that the data given in the consultation is flawed and has an unachievable expectation, in that there is an assumption made that after the cuts, all assets will be available at all times, giving the false impression that the risk of fire deaths will reduce if the proposals are agreed, whereas statistically it is likely that risk would increase.
This revised attendance times make no reference to properties that may be disadvantaged by the proposed changes.It should also be noted that if the proposals were to be adopted, around ⅓ of the residents of Devon and Somerset, over 600000 people, will see a slower response from the Fire and Rescue service. As such this Council calls upon DSFRS authority members to reject in full the options proposed.
Bridgwater Town Council took a big step forward in their work on the climate crisis and voted to set up a Tree Replacement Fund and to hold an Eco festival in the towns historic Castle street to be called ‘Seed The Day’ . The Tree Fund will take Hamp Green Rise in Bridgwater as a test project where 6 trees are under threat and will then be opened up to cover the whole town in accordance with the Town Councils avowed policy of ‘A Tree For a Tree, at the very least’. The ‘Seed the Day’ Festival came as an initiative from the last Climate Change Forum and will take place on Saturday 7th September from 10am to 5pm. Entry is free and everyone is welcome. The event is being organised by Climate Change Portfolio Holder Cllr Li Gibson (Westover).
Bridgwater Town Council Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community, Cllr Kathy Pearce (Westover) presented a draft policy on Single Use Plastics to the August meeting which was approved by the Council to go forward to consultation with members and user groups to return for decision at the october meeting. Kathy said “Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. The UK government estimates that there are currently more than 150m tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans, and that some 100,000 sea mammals and one million birds die from eating or becoming tangled in plastic waste each year.Bridgwater Town Council is committed to taking leadership on tackling the plastic waste problem by taking responsibility for its own impact on the environment and society. “
Bridgwater Town Council’s Portfolio Holder for Transport, Cllr Glen Burrows (Eastover) presented a series of recommendations towards a strategy for transport for the town as developed through meetings of the Town Transport Forum. This was accepted unanimously by the members of the council. The recommendations focused on car travel, air pollution, busses, the Docks and Pedestrian safety. The next Transport Forum meeting will be Tuesday 10th September, 4pm at the Town Hall.
BTC to investigate the scope for installation of Electric Vehicle charging points in new and existing developments within the town
BTC to develop a campaign aimed at encouraging local people to reduce the number of car journeys they make
BTC to consult with GWR over the possibility of introducing reduced/free car parking at the rail station, to reduce pressure on parking in the vicinity of the station
BTC to examine the feasibility of introducing modal filters, and other such schemes, in the streets leading to our local schools, to deter/prevent cars from driving on those streets at the beginning and end of the school day
BTC to seek means of introducing lower thresholds for measurement of emissions from fuel, rubber tyres and braking, in the interests of the health of our community
BTC to work with SDC to introduce electronic timetable information at Bridgwater Bus Station, and subsequently at all major bus stops in the town area
BTC to work closely with local organisations in a campaign to ensure that Bridgwater Docks remains in public hands after its lease expiry in 2020 and that the docks area is maintained developed as a major local tourist attraction
PEDESTRIAN ACCESS & SAFETY
BTC to work with SDC to introduce regular audits of pedestrian spaces in the town area, in relation to access and safety, with particular reference to the needs of elderly and disabled people.
At the July meeting of Sedgemoor District Council an Emergency motion was unanimously supported rejecting the Fire Authorities closure plans and ‘strongly opposing any reduction of service in the district’. The motion was moved by Tory Leader Cllr Duncan McGinty (East Polden) and seconded by Labour Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Bridgwater Westover). Leader of the Lib Dems on Sedgemoor, Clr Bill Revans (North Petherton) added his party’s support to the motion.
Sedgemoor District Council’s newly approved Transport Investment Strategy was passed yesterday after some two years of consultation. The aim of the document, created by consultants ‘Steer’ and assisted in-house by SDC officers was to provide a strategy for transport in the district through to 2050 and review what would be needed to respond to growth targets and infrastructure projects in that period. The strategy listed the key schemes and developments as Hinkley Point C, Gravity (the planned Enterprise Zone at Huntspill),the £83m Somerset Housing infrastructure fund, Bristol Airport Expansion and the North Somerset (Banwell by pass) HIF bid and Bristol South West economic link. The full Strategy can be found here.
Sedgemoor Opposition Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Westover) spoke at the meeting giving the Labour groups comments on the document. “We welcome this strategy and the work put into it by Sedgemoor officers but stress that our view is that it must be seen as an ongoing working document which needs to be flexible and open to new ideas and further input particularly in response to the rapidly developing climate change emergency. Obviously Somerset County Council is the Transport Authority and should be doing this in the first place and we have long argued for a Somerset Transport Forum. They have not taken the lead and they have not set up a Transport Forum, so at Bridgwater Town Council we have decided to run our own transport forum for the past 4 years which regularly meets with the public and feeds responses to SDC & SCC. We are already well versed in what are the key transport issues and our transport shadow Cllr Leigh Redman has made an important contribution to this consultation with our Labour Group response document.” Continue reading “‘Business As Usual’ Will Not Work says Labour as Sedgemoor Transport Investment Strategy Approved”
West Somerset Branch Labour Party oppose the proposed cuts to the Somerset and Devon Fire Service. The changes are being proposed by the Fire Service because the number of fires have reduced due to prevention work they have carried out and changes in habits such as less smoking. Six proposals of increasing severity are made in the consultation document here starting with the closure of eight fire stations, including Porlock , and a seventh option being a mix and match possibility of the previous six.
Peter Murphy, Vice Chair West Somerset Labour Party commented “A letter from Steve Griffiths of Watchet in last week’s Free Press correctly identifies the climate of austerity supported by Boris Johnson and Ian Liddell Grainger for bringing forward cost saving proposals by the fire service in Devon and Somerset. Local communities will rightly fear a reduction in protection and in their own ability to crew engines and contribute to their own protection from closures of stations such as Porlock.The Fire Service’s Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) states “Stations that are under threat of closure are in close proximity to another neighbouring fire station.” This is untrue as their own data estimates a response time to Porlock from Minehead of an additional 16 minutes, from Lynton of 22 minutes. This is hardly safe cover since these estimates are unrealistic given the road network.”Continue reading “Labour Opposition to Fire Service Cuts”