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Community Governance, Melplash Show And Magic Tenners

Community Governance, Melplash Show and Magic Tenners

Community Governance Review Agrees ‘One Council for Bridport’  

Dorset Council has announced that from 1 April 2024, there will be significant changes to the way local councils work in Bridport.  

The new structure will see:

  • a single town council area incorporating most of the existing parishes of Allington, Bothenhampton & Walditch, Bradpole and Bridport;
  • a total of 20 councillors, compared with 44 at present across the four parishes;
  • five wards within the new council area representing Bradpole, Bothenhampton & Walditch, Bridport Central, Bridport West & Allington, and West Bay;
  • and inclusion of most of the Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) development into the single council area.  

Symondsbury continues as a separate rural parish, albeit with some changes to its boundary, and Dorset Council remains the principal authority for the area.  

The changes were put forward by Bridport Town Council in October 2021 as part of a wider community governance review being carried out across the Dorset Council area, and were confirmed in July following two public consultations and extensive engagement by the town and parish councils with their constituents.

The current system of town and parish councils was last reviewed in 1986 when the town of Bridport was separated from the surrounding parishes by open space. In the years since, the town and the parishes have grown, so now it is just one built up area. BTC’s main argumants for change were that:

  • The whole town can achieve more in terms of local services, and will have a stronger local voice with a single council. Having four different councils governing different parts of the town is inefficient and disjointed.
  • Everyone in Bridport will get to vote for their most local representative. The current system means that many people in Bridport don’t get that opportunity.
  • All residents will get a say in the running of town affairs and the delivery of local services, and the cost of these services will be spread more fairly across the entire population.  The existing structure also means that people living in the current Bridport town area are paying for services enjoyed by everyone across the town.

Elections for the new council take place in May 2024

You can find more information about the Town Council’s case for the revised arrangements at One Council For Bridport
Town Council Leader Cllr Dave Rickard said of the changes “We think that this is the right outcome for Bridport, and we look forward to working with the parish councils between now and 2024 to develop the new-look council.  We had a strong debate and there were differing views, and town and parish councillors now need to apply that same passion to delivering on the detail, in the interests of all Bridport residents.  We look forward to working with our parish colleagues, and it is very much my hope that they will look to be a part of the new council by standing for election.”

As well as incorporating committees to retain local identities, the Town Council’s submission set out plans to encourage the creation of local voluntary community groups to help protect the historic local village centres such as Allington, Bradpole, Bothenhampton, Walditch, and West Bay.
As a former parish councillor myself, I know that not everyone is comfortable with putting themselves up for election by the public.  By committing to the development of these volunteer-run groups, Bridport Town Council is offering a different avenue for people to get involved in our work in support of their ‘patch’, strengthening the sense of local identity.
Dorset Council is expected to issue a legal order shortly, confirming the legal basis for the changes.  Once the order is in place, Bridport Town Council will work with the local community to bring about the revised arrangements.
Bridport Town Clerk Will Austin said, “We know it will be a major undertaking to deliver the new council from April 2024, and I’m pleased that town councillors are already planning for everything that needs to happen between now and then.  As well as working with parish councils to develop the detail of the legal, governance, financial, and service provision aspects, councillors have already said that they want the widest possible community involvement.  It’s very much my view that this can only be a good thing in delivering the best for our town.”

Melplash Show 2022

After a two year absence the Melplash Show made a much anticipated return, and what a return it was. I arrived shortly after 8.30am to hand out the prize for the best Hunter. As to what made the huge horse I found myself standing in front of a winner I had no idea but I have since found out that: show hunters should possess qualities that are recognised in the hunting field. These include good manners, ground-covering movement and, if competing in working hunter classes, a bold jumping style. Hunters should have a straight, ground-covering movement with little knee action.

Following the presentation, Anne and I were escorted on a guided tour of the show by Vice President Philip Hardwill. Our first destination was the animal section starting with the cattle. Amongst the many stunning examples of their breeds on display was an 8 day old Highland calf which stole the heart of everyone who passed it by.

From the cattle we walked on to the sheep display and once again there were some wonderful examples of local breeds on display. I was particularly taken by the Portlands which sadly died out on Portland in the early twentieth century but I am pleased to say they have recently been reintroduced back onto their home turf.

Last but by no means least, was the pig section and needless to say it was a sow with 10 very young piglets that was attracting the most lengthly views.

An agricultural show without animals would not be the same. Sadly, many of the breeds on display are now on the endangered list and as such are in danger of becoming extinct.

From the animals we headed straight to the opposite end of the showground to visit the horticulture, floral, beekeeping and handicraft tents. For me, alongside the animals, these are the tents that really display what is best about rural life.

Growing your own fruit, vegetables and flowers and turning them into mouthwatering preserves, bread, cakes and floral displays is something that not so long ago the majority of people could turn their hand to.

One display which caught my eye at the same time as Chef Valentine Warner was the Best Banger Competition judged by Framptons. We all agreed that some of the entries looked more visually appealing than others but the range of flavours on offer in the Speciality Sausage Class was a credit to the creativity of makers.

Sadly, thanks to the busy lives we all lead and the availability of commercially made products from across the globe throughout the year, growing, preserving, making and eating seasonally are no longer the norm.

Going some way towards rectifying the growing disconnect between what we eat and knowing how it is produced is the Discover Farming marquee. It is a perfect visit for anyone, especially families, who have an interest in learning more about food production and farming.  Packed with hands-on activities for children including grinding wheat, making, cooking and eating pizzas, making cheese and apple juicing, handling baby chicks, milking a goat and even calving a cow!! When we visited it was hive of activity with parents and children clearly having a great time as they learned.

Before we headed back to the main arena and lunch we stopped off at the Bridport Town Council Marquee. Inside, in addition to the Town Council’s display, there were numerous other Bridport based community groups on hand to talk about what they do and how to get involved. I was particularly interested in the Raise The Roof display which explained how a locally grown product, hemp, has the potential to become a sustainable building material capable of supporting the transition to a low carbon future for the Bridport Area.

Back at the main ring we watched The Devil’s Horsemen, an elite team of riders who have worked together for decades. They perform live equestrian displays at shows as well as being the leading film-industry horse supplier in Europe. Seeing them performing their fast paced Cossack show in the main arena was quite a spectacle.

After an excellent lunch in the Members tent, I was interviewed by a BBC film crew working on a series of programmes about rural life to be broadcast in January. They had been filming all day at the show and must have hours of footage to edit down. Whether I make the final cut remains to be seen

I only had one more formal task to perform – the presentation of the Townspeople of Bridport Challenge Cup for the Best Beef Beast to the Mitchell family for their magnificent Hereford bull Vexour 1 Phantom. He truly was beautiful animal with lovely gentle temperament and really enjoyed it when I gave his head a stroke and a good scratch. And with that our day at the Melplash Show 2022 came to a close.

This years show marked 175 years since the founding of the Melplash Agricultural Society and I am glad to say that it gets better and better year on year. This years Melplash Show in addition to all of the displays I have already mentioned also had over 400 trade stands for the thousands of visitors to peruse.

It takes a huge amount of time and organisational expertise to bring together the show and my thanks go to Show President, Nigel Jones, Society Chairman, James Vickery, Society Vice Chairman, Philip Hardwill , Show Secretary, Lucy Hart and all of the members and volunteers for their hard work in the run up and on the day to bring it all together so successfully.

And Finally – This Weeks Magic Tenner Focus

Fiona Neylan Millinery – St Michael’s Trading Est.

Businesses working with or supplying: Malabar, Natural Life, Chilli by the Sea, Waste Not Want Not, Cafe Bean, Soulshine, RKL Tools, South St Sally, Dress, Yellow Gorse, Bridport Arts & Crafts, Cilla & Camilla, Lilliputs, Livingstone Textiles, Alleyways, Red Brick Cafe, Ride, Clock Tower Music, Klin Klan, Jaquies, Alley Cuts, Steptoes, Rakhang Thai, Gemma’s Flowers, Dorshi, Framptons, The Decorator Centre, The Trading Post, Rise, Baboo Gelato, Sundorban, West Bay Hotel, Sammi G’s, Lyric Theatre, Carpet World and more

Steptoes – East Street.

Businesses working with or supplying: Simon Scott, Guy Crabb, Footeprints, Bridport Glass and Tile and more

Refresh – South Street.

Businesses working with or supplying: Framptons – Butchers, Steph’s Eggs. Roberts Food Service and more

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