Something of a Magnum Opus I’m afraid this week due to me giving myself a week off to celebrate hitting three score years and ten!
ENVIRONMENT SERVICE IN BRADPOLE & ECO CHURCH
On Sunday 5th March I attended a special service at Holy Trinity Church Bradpole. The theme of the morning worship was the environment and the keynote speaker was Sir Ghillean Prance the world leading botanist and ecologist. The most public phase of Sir Ghillean’s career in Britain was probably during his time as Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew 1988 – 99. But it was his scientific expertise in the field of plant classification, his leadership qualities and his unravalled knowledge of plants and ecology gained at first hand on the research field expeditions in the Amazon that brought him eventually to Kew.
Sir Ghillean spoke most eloquently about the need for us to act now in order to avoid environmental catastrophe. He is a devout Christian so it was only natural that he included several very fascinating biblical references in his talk which made it even more pertinent to his audience.
Alongside Sir Ghillean the other theme of the morning was the Eco Church movement, knowledge of which I have to admit I was unaware of prior to going along.
Eco Church is a scheme for churches in England and Wales. Churches complete the unique online Eco Survey about how they are caring for God’s earth in different areas of their life and work.
The survey takes you through five key areas of church life:
- Worship and teaching
- Management of church buildings
- Management of church land
- Community and global engagement
It takes into account whether or not a church has buildings or land, and once completed the church can save your survey responses at any point and return to update them as it completes additional actions.
The answers a church provides will collect points towards an Eco Church Award – the more a church does, the more points it gets!
If this core doesn’t gain an Eco Church Award straight away don’t worry – the idea is to complete further actions in order to gain the points necessary for an Award. For example, churches can switch to a green energy company or start using Fairtrade tea and coffee supplies to gain Eco Church Award points.
There are three levels of Eco Church Award – Bronze, Silver and Gold. In order to qualify for an Award a church must attain the required standard in each of the areas covered by the Eco Survey that apply to a particular church (some churches do not have buildings or land).
To date there are 30 Gold Award Eco Churches in England. In Bridport, St Mary’s Church on South Street, Bridport United Church on East Street, Holy Trinity Church in Bradpole and St Mary’s Church in Walditch are all signed up and working towards their Bronze Awards. Examples of ‘eco’ initiatives already carried out include the management of graveyards to encourage wild flowers, the planting of trees, installation of nest boxes and the creation of habitats where insects birds and small mammals can thrive.
To find out more abouit Eco Church click HERE.
INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY
Wednesday 8th March was International Women’s Day and in celebration I would like to share with you an account of the life of a pioneering Bridport woman.
The following extract is the result of research carried out by Bridport resident and fellow Town Councillor Professor Karen Hunt. Karen has a wonderful way of bringing alive the lives of local women who have been overlooked and forgotten by history.
The story of one such woman, Violet Dering, can now be told thanks to Karen’s meticulous research.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: VIOLET DERING (1873-1953)
In 2021 Bridport celebrated the rediscovery of one of the town’s pioneering women: Agnes Suttill. She was the first woman to be elected to Bridport Town Council in 1921. Agnes had been one of the local women who had fought to get the vote. Unfortunately she, like other Bridport women who qualified to vote on the partial franchise of 1918, was unable to use her new won right in the General Election of December 1918. There was no contest in West Dorset with the sitting MP (a prominent anti-suffragist) being returned unopposed. While looking for more information about Agnes, her life and achievements, another discovery was made. A second woman had joined the Council two years later in the municipal elections of 1923. The two women were Councillors together for one year. When Violet Dering completed her term in 1926, she did not stand again and the Council returned to being an all-male space. Needless to say there is no permanent memorial to either woman in the town. Maybe we should think again.
How did Violet Dering contribute to Bridport’s history?
A hundred years ago, as the town prepared for its annual municipal election held each November, it became clear that the novelty of a woman candidate was to be repeated. Agnes Suttill had been the first woman to stand for the council in 1921 and had been elected at her first contest. In 1922, there were no women candidates and all the retiring councillors were returned without contest. The whole event was overshadowed by the 1922 General Election which gripped the town and saw the first Labour candidate stand for West Dorset.
However, in 1923 a new woman candidate did put herself forward at the municipal election in Bridport. She was the only woman to stand. Like the other candidates, she introduced herself to the voters in a notice in the Bridport News (26.10.23):
The key elements in ‘her pitch’ were ‘that women’s services in Municipal work have been proved to be of great value’; she promised to ‘do my best to promote the just interests of workers of every grade in the community’; …………………..
To read the full account in full click HERE
FLYING THE FLAG
I was deeply honoured to have the town flag flown from the Town Hall to mark my 70th birthday on Thursday 9th March.
The following morning I learned that that the flagpole had snapped and was hanging off the side of the Town Hall thanks to some rather gusty overnight wind. The pole is routinely checked for signs of stress/wear, so this came as quite a surprise.
THE MAKING OF BRIDPORT
On Thursday evening I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get a ticket to a talk at the LSI entitled The Making of Bridport given by architectural historian Tim Connor.
Bridport has been described as “one of the best towns in Dorset, and for a continuously sustained urban feeling, perhaps the best of all.” I now know why.
During the talk Tim examined the key developments that saw the community achieve its present form and which were fundamental to the making of Bridport. Much of the talk focussed on what happened in the mid-19th century, but also what did not happen.
I thought I knew quite a lot about the history of Bridport but the talk opened my eyes to some fascinating information about buildings we all walk past regularly and take for granted. I know I will look at them more closely in future.
Tim is also the author of a fascinating book about Bridport’s Literary and Scientific Institute.
Proceeds from the talk went to the Bridport Area Development Trust. To find out more about the work of the Trust click HERE.
NOTPLA @ The Watchhouse
On Friday evening I joined a select group of invitees at the Watch House in West Bay to meet and listen to a talk by Notpla, one of the 2022 Prince William’s Earthshot Prize winners, in the category of ‘Build a Waste-Free World’!
Only the day before Notpla had just been announced as a Grand Prize winner of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize!
Why I hear you asking am I so excited about a company and a product you have probably never heard of? Well Notpla is focused on developing truly sustainable packaging solutions, designed to tackle the huge mountains of single-use plastic generated daily around the world.
Ooho and their other products are made from Notpla: a revolutionary material made from seaweed and plants that biodegrades in weeks, naturally. Click HERE to find out more.
There is a lot of misleading information out there about so called biodegradable or compostable packaging. Every one of the products currently being used to package food, particularly in the fast food industry, is not truly biodegradable or compostable because they all contain plastics. Even the ones made from plant starches (Polylactic acid, also known as PLA, is a thermoplastic monomer derived from renewable, organic sources such as corn starch or sugar cane) which claim to be compostable need special composting in facilities that can heat the material to 140°C degrees for ten days. Click HERE to watch Notpla biodegrade naturally.
As a special treat Notpla in collaboration with the Watch House had produced a special cocktail packaged in Ooho. To enjoy the cocktail you simply popped the soft squidgy light blue capsule into your mouth and bite into it and upon doing so you were rewarded with a delicious burst of flavour. The seaweed based packaging is then simply given a quick chew and swallowed. Completely harmless and truly biodegradable.
The future of truly biodegradable and compostable single use pckaging is here. As with any new to the market product it is a slightly more expensive alternative. But because it is made from a renewable resource, that is truly biodegradable. Notpla has a lot of positives for the future, plus with rising oil prices, a seaweed plastic has financial benefits too.
It is down to us as consumers to challenge retailers to make the move to the packaging of the future. If we don’t ask we won’t get.
COMONWEALTH DAY 2023
Commonwealth Day, Monday 13 March, 2023, marked the beginning of a week-long series of events and activities happening around the globe – including faith and civic gatherings, debates, school assemblies, flag-raising ceremonies and cultural events.
Commonwealth Day 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter, which was signed by Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 11 March 2013.
This is the first Commonwealth Day since Her Majesty’s passing, and the first presided over by His Majesty King Charles III as King and Head of the Commonwealth.
The theme for Commonwealth Day 2023 was ‘Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’.
The theme combines the active commitment of member states to support the promotion of peace, prosperity and sustainability, especially through climate action, so as to secure a better future for our young people and improve the lives of all Commonwealth citizens.
Bridport marked Comonwealth Day by raising the flag outside the Town Council offices at Mountfield. Present on the day were Town Councilors and staff, the Town Crier, John Collingwood, The Rev Pete Stone and pupils from Bridport Primary School who read the following:
Commonwealth Day Speech 2023 by Rowan, Esme, Delphine, Mabli, Samir and Luna
Rowan – Welcome to our commonwealth speech. We are representatives from Bridport Primary School.
Esme – The Commonwealth is a family of 56 countries spread across the world in every continent.
Delphine – the Commonwealth believes that people have rights, such as the right to education and healthcare.
Mabli – as a rights respecting school, we know that children’s rights are important and we consider how we can uphold these rights in everything we do.
Samir – The Commonwealth promotes democracy and believes everyone should be free to choose their leaders, just like we do at school with our School Councillors.
Luna – The Commonwealth stands against intolerance, prejudice and racism. Our school value of Respect means that we also fight intolerance, prejudice and racism at BPS.
Will – The Commonwealth regards girls and boys and equally important and aims to improve the lives of young men and women.
Esme – We treat girls and boys equally at BPS and everyone is supported to reach their potential, regardless of their gender.
Delphine – Commonwealth day is a time for the countries in the commonwealth to celebrate diversity, strengthen their relationships and recognise their achievements.
Mabli – Together, the countries of the commonwealth are working to tackle climate change so that our environment is protected.
Samir – Together, they work to build peace and harmony.
Luna – Together, they encourage fair trade so that all people can share the profits.
Esme – The theme for this year’s Commonwealth Day is “Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future.”
Rowan – The theme demonstrates the active commitment of the countries in the commonwealth to support the promotion of peace, prosperity and sustainability.
Will – They are committed to taking action against climate change, in order to secure a better future for our young people.
Mabli – Commonwealth Day 2023 is celebrating the 50th year of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. The Commonwealth has a combined population of 2.5billion people, of which more than 60% are under 30 years of age.
Samir – The Commonwealth Youth Programme has been supporting member countries with youth development and this year is dedicated to youth-led action for sustainable and inclusive development.
Luna – Young people need to be empowered to work together to make changes and work towards a fair, secure and sustainable Commonwealth.
Will – This year is also the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter, which was signed by Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 11th March 2013.
Delphine – It is a privilege to be part of this special occasion; thank you for inviting us.
Hearing these words spoken by young people made for an even more powerful message to us all.
BRIDPORT & DISTRICT GARDENING CLUB – Spring Show
On Saturday 18th March (this coming Saturday) the Bridport & District Gardening Club are holding the 2023 Spring Show.
The show is open to the public from midday to 3.00pm so pop along to to the United Reform Church Hall off East Street to view the exhibits and admire the skill of the growers and makers taking part.
In addition you can enjoy refreshments and cake whilst picking the brains of the exhibitors.
You never know you may be inspired to enter something you have grown or made in the Harvest Show which is scheduled to take place on Saturday 9th September.
BACSCREEN – Young Persons Film Making Workshops
Sustainable Bridport in conjunction with Bridport Arts Centre are running a series of workshops leading to the production of short films on individual youth perspectives on Climate Change.
BRIDPORT ENERGY CHAMPIONS – family friendly pop up cafe
Bridport Town Council’s Energy Champions will be at the Scout Hall, 155 St Swithuns Road on Thursday 23rd March. As we go from winter into spring it is still importnat to think about ways we can keep saving energy even in the summer months.
The energy champions will be on hand to offer advice and support on how to make our home and the way we live more energy efficient and less costly. There will be a display with energy saving tips and the opportunity to sign up for a thermal imaging audit of your home. Joining them will be Rachel and Julie giving food samples of slow cooked food and Jo Burlington doing kids activities.
It is hoped that here might be someone from Citizens Advice there on the day but they are pretty stretched at the moment. If you can’t get along on the day it is worth noting that CA offer energy specific one- to- ones where they also talk about and advise on income maximisation.
West Bay Discovery Centre – Beneath the Waves
This year’s pop-up exhibition explores the history of fishing locally, the hidden world beneath our waters, and how our marine life is being protected.
The Discovery Centre will be open from Saturday 18th March – 31st October from 11am – 4pm (excluding Mondays). Admission is free but donations welcome.
CONNECT BRIDPORT – Business Networking in Bridport & West Dorset
Connect Bridport is an informal network meeting that takes place bi-monthly.
This is a great opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs to come together and socialise while building their business networks.
At Connect Bridport, you’ll have the chance to meet new people and expand your network of contacts. Whether you’re a new business owner or a seasoned professional, these events can be incredibly valuable for making new connections and learning from others in your industry.
One of the great things about Connect Bridport is that it’s an informal event. This creates a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that makes it easy to connect with others. You don’t have to be shy or feel out of place, just come with an open mind and ready to meet new people.
If you’re looking to grow your business, expand your network, or simply meet new people, then Connect Bridport is the perfect event for you. They are always excited to welcome new members to their community and look forward to meeting you at the March event. Don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity to connect with other business owners and entrepreneurs in the area.
Once again this month there are a couple of speakers who will give you some insights and tips about being self employed and your own boss.
- Louise Tattershall, a chartered certified accountant with over 20 years of experience, will share her insights on cashflow management.
- Sheera King, a qualified Wellbeing Coach, will delve into the significance of boundaries—a key element in both personal and professional growth.
Mark your calendars for the Thursday 23rd of March! The event starts at 6:30pm at the Woodman Pub, Bridport, in the skittle alley. Grab your tickets while they’re still available: https://bit.ly/3HIu7bT and get connected.
Of the many things people contact me about, there are three which come up far more often Dogs, Housing and Parking. Over three Blogs I am going to try to summarise the concerns raised and attempt to address some of the issues and possible answers associated with them. This week I am looking at:
When it comes to parking there are three topics that people predominantly speak to me about:
- The cost of parking
- The number of parking spaces available
- Inconsiderate parking
- Blue Badge parking
Having to pay to park is a bone of contention for almost everyone. Shoppers and visitors resent having to pay and shopkeepers believe that parking charges keep people away from their shops.
The flip side of this is those people who, if the increasing number who speak to me about this is anything to go by, would love to see cars removed from the town centre as much as possible in order to make it a much pleasanter environment in which to go about their business.
The following car parks in Bridport belong to Dorset Council and the revenue they generate goes to that council and not Bridport Town Council: East Street, long and short stay, Hope Terrace, Rope Walks, South Street, West Street, Bridport Arms (West Bay), East Beach (West Bay), Esplanade (West Bay), Quayside (West Bay), Station Yard (West Bay), The George (West Bay), The Mound (West Bay) and West Bay Road. This leaves the Football Club and Plottingham car parks which belong to Bridport Town Council.
I suspect that everyone would love all parking to be free and resent paying what many regard as a form of local taxation imposed on motor vehicle owners. But the reality is that existing car parks need to be maintained and if more car parking is to be created it has to be paid for. If those using the car parks do not pay to use them the resulting loss of income will have to be generated by other means. Either local businesses fund the free parking or the local Councils who own them. Either way the costs incurred would inevitably have to be passed on to residennts and visitors in the form of increased prices in the shops or council taxation.
Dorset Council’s car parking charges and fines fund the operation of the Council’s parking services department. Any surplus the service generates goes into the highways service, helping fund drainage works, reactive pothole repairs, car park safety and general maintenance. Full details of Dorset Councils car parking policy can be read HERE.
On the 4th April 2022 Dorset Council introduced new car parking charges in Bridport and West Bay which were in line with charges across the county. The new county wide three tier system of charging placed Bridport in Tier 2 and West Bay in Tier 3. The current charges can be seen in the table below alongside the rate charges at Dorchester Hospital by way of comparison.
When compared with the cost to park at Dorchester Hospital the cost of parking in Bridport and even West Bay in high season is broadly in line. However, if you compare the costs locally with somewhere like Bristol Airport for a day £44.99, the cost to park in Bridport would appear to be a bargain.
One issue of concern to many is the move away from paying for parking using cash to the use of smartphones. The loss of the carboard clock Shoppers Permit has left those who do not use a smatphone at a loss as to how they can access the new service.
When I walk or cycle into Bridport on market days I inevitably reach my destination quicker than those people sitting in their cars along East Street. It is clear that there are insufficient parking spaces available on market days hence the queues of traffic even during the low season for tourists.
Shopkeepers and market traders, and their customers regularly tell me that there is a need for more parking in the town centre. But where?
- One solution could be to convert the current car park behind Waitrose into a multi storey one. Would a single storey be sufficient or do we need 2 or even three stories? Whilst this may solve the parking problem it would put increased pressure on the narrow roads leading to it with I suspect cars queueing to get in and leave at peak times.
- A second solution could be to convert some of Asker meadow into car parking enabling people to enter and leave directly onto the A35. This would relieve the congestion in the town and it is a short, pleasant walk over the river into town. The down side of this is that a much loved green space would be lost forever.
- A third solution could be to establish a park and ride service on the outskirt of town. This would also relieve the congestion in town and people would be able to use the shuttle bus service into and out of town. In the first instance this could be operated during the tourist season and if successful become an all year service. The down side of this is finding a site and once a site has been found the inevitable loss of green space or agricultural land and the associated environmental impact.
- A fourth solution is for more people to either walk or cycle into town. I only use my car to come into town when I have a lot of shopping to do and when I have this kind of shop to do I avoid market days. Otherwise I either walk or use my bicycle. Bridport has an ever increasing number of safe cycle routes into town and it is good to see more and more people using them.
For every journey made by bicycle that is one less car journey. From where I live on Crock Lane it is pretty flat so cycling is easy even on a standard bike and very easy on an electric one. The big advantage of walking and cycling is no parking fees to pay plus it is much better for your health and the environment. If you are fit and healthy two feet on the pavement or two on the pedals of your bike is by far the best way to get about town.
Whilst addressing the issue of parking it is important that cyclists coming into town park their bikes considerately. Given the increasing number of people using this mode of transport it should not come as a surprise that I have been asked about increasing the number of cycle racks in the town centre. Perhaps one solution would be the sacrifice of one or more car park space in each of the town centre car parks as demand increases.
Inconsiderate parking is an ever increasing issue. There appears to be a significant increase in the number of people using residential areas close to the town centre to avoid paying parking. In recent months I have been contacted several times by residents to raise the issues associated with this. For example:
- Parking on residential pavements in such a way that those using wheelchairs, mobility scoters and pushchairs are forced into the road because the gap left on the pavement is insufficient for them to pass through.
- Parking on residential corners creating potential accident causing blind spots.
- Parking on residential grass verges and ploughing them up.
It is not only non residents who are guilty of this. The ever increasing rise in car ownership means that unless you are fortunate enough to have off street parking at your place of residence you have to park somewhere else. Two, three and even four car families all expect to park close to home, those with works vans etc also expect to be able to park outside their home and as a result we have a situation where there is simply not enough roadside parking hence the increasing use of grass verges and green spaces. Should we be looking to tarmac over some green spaces to accommodate this?
We are seeing an increasing number of Blue Badge holders parking on double yellow lines in the town centre. I suspect this is a consequence of the fact that as more and more of us are living longer, more of us have a disability of some sort, and hence the need for a Badge Badge. It is right and proper that the Blue Badge system is in place to enable those in need to access our town centre to be able to do so. But as always with additional rights come additional responsibilities.
The Blue Badge is not a licence to park anywhere. Like all other road users, Blue badge holders must obey the rules of the road, as laid out in the Highway Code. Click HERE to refresh your knowledge of the recently revised Highway Code.
Badge holders may park on single or double yellow lines for up to 3 hours, but in general not where there are restrictions on loading or unloading – indicated by yellow kerb dashes and / or signs on plates.
The Blue Badge is not a licence to park anywhere. If a vehicle is parked where it would cause an obstruction or danger to other road users the driver could be fined or receive a Penalty Charge Notice or even have their vehicle removed.
The Blue Badge Rules clearly state:
Do not park where it would endanger, inconvenience or obstruct pedestrians or other road users. Examples of dangerous or obstructive parking include the following, although there are others:
- school entrances, bus stops, on a bend, or near the brow of a hill or hump bridge
- parking opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space
- where it would make the road narrow, such as by a traffic island or roadworks
- where it would hold up traffic, such as in narrow stretches of road or blocking vehicle entrances
- where emergency vehicles stop or go in and out, such as hospital entrances
- where the kerb has been lowered or the road raised to help wheelchair users
- on a pavement, unless signs permit it.
The above list is also applicable to all drivers and yet as the images seen earlier in this post not all drivers appear to be aware of the rules or simply choose to ignore them.
Double yellow lines have been installed for a reason. That reason is fundamentally one of public safety. It is therefore important that when a Blue Badge holder or any other driver chooses to park on a double yellow line they do so taking into account the safety of other users of the highway and pavement.
Could making parking free for Blue badge holders in all Dorset carparks reduce the number parking on double yellow lines?
For full details of the Blue Badge scheme click HERE.
To sum up Bridport like so many towns across the county and country is a town with a road layout designed in the era of the horse that finds itself trying its best to cope with ever increasing numbers of motor vehicles. While the move from petrol and diesel will reduce levels of pollution and CO2 emissions the number of vehicles is likely to stay the same or even increase. Parking issues are likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future. As to increasing the number of parking spaces in the town centre I would be interested to hear your solution to this ongoing issue.
In the meantime it is important that all road users become more considerate of others, whether they be on four and more wheels or just two wheels, two or four legs, puchchairs and mobility scooters, and think carefully about where they are parking and the potential impact it may have.