BLOG 118 – Local Elections 2024, Coronation, Womens Rugby, BridLit Bursary, ‘From Street to Sea’, Town Centre Planters, Coronation Bridge, and more.
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2024
Across much of the country local elections were held on Thursday, but not here in Dorset. It will be our turn in twelve months time when the people of Bridport will go to the polls to elect an expanded Bridport Town Council.
As a result of Dorset Councils Community Governance review carried out in 2022, an expanded Bridport Town Council will incorporate most of the current parish councils of Allington, Bothenhampton and Walditch and Bradpole. Other small adjustments to parish boundaries will see some houses in West Bay currently in Burton Bradstock and Symondsbury Parishes incorporated into the expanded Bridport Town Council.
You can view a map of the existing Parish and proposed new Ward boundaries by clicking HERE
When the map first appears, it shows the current parish boundaries for info/comparison. If you click the drop-down Layers list in the top left you can turn off these boundaries so that only the new ones appear. NB This is not the definitive boundary map – which Dorset Council will produce at some point – but I would expect that the two align.
People living in the expanded Bridport Town Council area will cast their votes in one of five new Wards which are broadly based on the existing Parish boundaries.
The expanded Bridport Town Council will be made up of 20 Councillors and the number of councillors each ward will elect to the council is shown in brackets as follows:
- Bothenhampton & Walditch (3)
- Bradpole (5)
- Bridport Central (5)
- Bridport West & Allington (5)
- West Bay (2)
In summary the changes will mean:
- A single 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;
- Wards and council committees within the expanded council area based on local identity;
- Inclusion of most of the Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) development into the single council area;
- Retention of a separate rural parish of Symondsbury.
One of the issues raised during the Community Governance Review was the potential implications on the level of Council Tax levied. Although not strictly part of the decision making process, it was a Governance and not a Financial review and in the fullness of time adjustments will be made in order to level off the amount paid across the expanded Council area. In time this will mean that everyone on the same Band rate in the new area will pay the same. As a result it is reasonable to expect residents in the existing Town Council area to see a reduction in Council Tax after April 2024 whilst residents in the former parishes are likely to see an increase.
The level of Council Tax levied on residents for the costs of the Town Council services makes up approximately 10% of the Households Council Tax bill issued by Dorset Council each year.
The Council Tax for the Town Council is agreed by Councillors by the end of January each year. At present, Bridport Town Council receives Council Tax from just over half of the built-up area of Bridport. This has resulted in an increasing number of concerns from Bridport parishioners, that residents of neighbouring parishes receive the services of the Town Council at a heavily discounted rate.
The current Bridport Town Council will set the level of council Tax for the financial year 2024/25 during which the elections to the expanded Council take place. Following the election it will be the newly elected councillors who will set future levels of council tax for all residents.
There is an online questionnaire seeking residents’ thoughts on how the expanded Bridport Town Council should operate after April 2024. To respond to the questionnaire click HERE.
Who the members of the expanded Bridport Town Council are will be decided by the electorate. Who the electorate will be voting for is unknown at this point in time and is ultimately open to anyone wishing to offer themselves for election. Residents in each of the five Wards will elect the requisite number of councillors to represent them on the expanded Council.
Are you interested in playing a part in shaping the future of Bridport?
Do you have what it takes to stand for election?
To find out more about what being a Town Councillor involves contact the Town Clerk, Will Austin by clicking [email protected] or myself by clicking [email protected].
CORONATION OF KING CHARLES III
I am very aware that there are a range of opinions about the King’s Coronation which is taking place at this weekend. Whilst there are some who question the place of the monarchy in a 21st century United Kingdom, others are concerned about spending on celebrations during a cost-of-living crisis and there are also those who value our Royal family.
As a Town Council we’ve recognised this by:
- not allocating any additional budgetary provision for the Coronation,
- relying instead on the goodwill of volunteers, Council staff and Councillors,
- re-using union flag bunting, flags etc. (which of course is also good environmentally!).
- Adding the union flag to the face of the Town Hall clock, which looks amazing when lit at night, and flying the union flag. Thank you Paul Violet.
- Facilitating community group celebrations by supplying gazebos, tables and chairs.
On Saturday morning the Town Crier, Town Clerk and I will gather in Bucky Doo Square at 11.00am dressed in our full ceremonial robes to make a cry and say a few words in recognition of the Kings Coronation which will be taking place at the same time in Westminster Abbey.
You can find a full list of events taking place over the Coronation weekend by clicking HERE.
A question to tease your friends with. What do the iPhone and the Coronation logo have in common?
Answer at the end of the blog.
BRIDPORT’S CORONATION BRIDGE – restored
The iron bridge erected in 1937 to comemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the grandparents of King Charles III, has been given a major restoration. As part of the restoration, a comemorative plaque has been added to mark the coronation of King Charles III.
The Mayor at the time of the erection of the bridge was H. R. C. Palmer whose name can be seen on the original plaque.
He was also Mayor of Bridport at the time of the Pageant in 1953 and the photograph on the right shows him welcoming Princess Margaret to the town.
When I spoke to John, the current Chairman of Palmers Brewery, and grandson of H. R. C. Palmer, about restoring the bridge he was immediately very supportive and agreed that It was fitting that the restoration to be jointly funded by Palmers Brewery and the Town Council to mark the King’s coronation.
The work to restore the bridge was carried out by the Town Council’s Tim Smith and local contractor Jason Wheeler and an excellent job they have done.
BRIDPORT WOMENS RUGBY
On a lovely Sunday morning I had the honour of blowing the whistle to kick off the first game of Women’s Rugby Union in Bridport. Over recent months the Under 14 team have been honing their skills in preparation for the occasion and despite losing to a much more experienced Chard side they more than held their own for much of the game.
Bridport, playing their first-ever fixture, began to concede territory to the Somerset side, who were held up by the Bridport excellent tackling. The Bridport team scored two lovely running tries with the ball moving swiftly from hand to hand. However, the Chard teams experience eventually got the better of the Bridport with a slightly flattering final 34-10 scoreline.
Despite the defeat they can hold their heads high and once the Bridport girls learn to hold position and get the ball out wide, the speed of their two try-scorers bodes well for the future.
What could possibly bring two Mayors from different countries to Bridport?
On Thursday I had the pleasure of hosting Bryn Yemm the Mayor of Abergavenny and John Stembridge the Mayor of Miami, Florida, when they visited the town. The reason for the visit was for John to reconnect with his Bridport heritage.
Prior to joining me for a tour of the Town Hall and lunch, John and Bryn had spent time at the Bridport Museum where staff were able to tell John about the town’s connection with Stembridge family.
The following entry taken from the 1871 census lists the members of John’s immediate family living in Bridport at that time.
After lunch I took them the meet Graveyard Superintendant Paul Violet who showed John the graves of several members of his Bridport family.
Showing John and Bryn around our town I was reminded of what a wonderful place we have the privilage of living in.
BRIDPORT LITERARY FESTIVAL – announces a new bursary for local students.
Bridport Literary Festival is launching a new bursary scheme to help local students planning to go to university this year.
The BridLit bursary will give two successful candidates £1,000 a year for each year of their three-year degree course, in any subject.
Chair of Trustees Deirdre Coates said: ‘The festival is now in its 19th year and we feel we should use surplus funds to help the community that has supported it all these years.
‘As a registered charity, the festival has as its objective the advancement of education, so what better way to use these funds than to help local students go on to further education?
‘The ever-growing costs for university students must be working as a deterrent for some and the bursary may go some way to helping two students a year to decide to read for a degree course.’
BridLit already supports Read Easy, a nationwide charity with an active branch in Bridport, which helps adults with reading difficulties. It also helps the Bank of Dreams and Nightmares, a registered charity which offers free creative writing workshops to West Dorset children aged 7-18.
The Bridlit Bursary is open to Year 13 students applying for an undergraduate course beginning in 2023 who are in the Beaminster-Colfox joint sixth-form or who live within Dorset Council’s Bridport ward.
To be considered for one of the two bursaries available for this autumn, students should complete the application form on the Bridport Literary Festival website at bridlit.com/bursaries
In no more than 4,000 characters, they will need to explain why they think they are a suitable candidate, why they have chosen their subject of study and how they see the Bridlit Bursary helping them to achieve their goals.
Said Mrs Coates: ‘This process is very simple and every young person in the Bridport area who is planning to go to university this autumn is encouraged to apply.’
Click HERE to apply.
The Bridport Literary Festival 2023 takes place in venues in and around the town from 5 – 11 November.
On Saturday evening the Bridport Rotary Club held a celebratory musical concert in honour of the forthcoming Coronation of King Charles. In excess of 100 people came together to listen to the traditional Brass Band music of the Weymouth Salvation Army, but modified to include patriotic singing in which the audience were encouraged to take part which they did with enthusiasm. Union Jack flags were handed out to the audience to wave during the singing. In the words of Compere, Major Anne Read of the Salvation Army “It was better than the Last Night at the Proms!”. An added attraction was a display of Tambourine playing and dancing by the Timbrels, members of the band.
It was a joy to join a packed audience in the United Reform Church Hall on Saturday evening for a concert in celebration of the King’s Coronation. The Weymouth Salvation Army Band were on great form and judging by the amount of foot tapping, and exuberant singing everyone there thoroughly enjoyed their uplifting playing, solo singing, but for me it was the syncopated tambourine playing and dancing by the Timbrels who stole the show.
Colin Bowditch, the President of the Rotary Club of Bridport said “The Club is very proud to have been able to mark this historic occasion with such an uplifting, patriotic performance.” The event raised well over £1,200 which will be used to support earthquake victims in Syria and provide electric generators for the people of Ukraine.
‘MAYFEST’ – in the Community Orchard
On Sunday afternoon a large crowd gathered to celebrate May Day (a day early!). The rain earlier in the day did not dampen spitits and the revellers were entertained by a number of local musicians, storytellers, garland and mask making, maypole dancing. The centrepiece of the afternoon was the rendering of a wild May tale delivered by Martin Maudsley that amongst many surreal moments included a member of the audience fighting the green man using a dandelion as a weapon. What was that all about?
Grub the sheep appeared to enjoy wandering through the crowd, meeting people and being petted by some initially nervous children.
Part way through the afternoon the sun broke through and with the orchard coming into bloom, and tea and cakes plus award winning local cider available I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.
COMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES – surprise inspection.
A team from ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission’ recently visited Bridport Cemetery to check and tidy the War Graves therein. It was an unannounced visit.
They met Graveyard Superintendent, Paul Violet, who took them around the grave sites and looked at the Memorial boards displayed along the workshop.
Their inspection over they said: “It was the best cemetery they had visited. Pauls knowledge of the site was faultless and his background knowledge of the casualties, both in the War Graves and on Family headstones was encyclopaedic“.
They admired the care that was taken of the Comonwealth War Graves with the memorial roses planted on each grave by Bridport Heritage Forum, and the commemorative trees planted by Bridport schoolchildren in memory of WW1 casualties and WW2 Civilian casualties. They were blown away with the ‘wall’ of stories of all the Bridport Casualties of both wars. Paul looks after all of these facets of commemoration with dedication and the utmost respect.
Paul is a member of Bridport Heritage Forum and members of the Forum who researched the displayed stories also got a pat on the back, for the efforts in involving and presenting those stories, so that the local community ‘Never Forget’
BOTHENHAMPTON HERITAGE – Coronation Trail and Exhibition
The exhibition looks at the lives of seventeen women who lived in Bothenhampton. It shows how they variously faced the challenges of large families and poor sanitation; poverty and death in childbirth; fire and domestic violence. Some spent time in prisons, workhouses or lunatic asylums; several of them ran small businesses; at least one committed suicide.
In 1872 the village school opened on the site of the old poorhouse and gradually education and better living conditions transformed the lives of the women of Bothenhampton.
For most of the period of our study we have had a female monarch and, on the occasion of the Coronation of King Charles III, we reflect on whether the lives of our women were so very different from those of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.
Follow the trail of pink plaques along Main Street and Old Church Road from the new church to the old 29th April to 8th May 2023.
Visit the exhibition in the Old Church from 11am to 3pM Sunday 7th May and Monday 8th May.
TOWN CENTRE PLANTERS
Like me you may have noticed that some of the planters in the town centre are looking a little tired and bedraggled. Members of the Bridport and District Gardening Club (BDGC) have also noticed the same thing but instead of simply moaning about it, they have stepped up, and have been working with the Town Council maintainance team to replant and look after them. Over the coming weeks and months i am looking forward to seeing the new sustainable perenial planting schemes bursting forth.
For those of you wondering what plants have gone in here is a list: Perovskia, Verbena Lollipop, Gaura, Stipa tenuissima, Heuchera Solar Eclipse, Stachys byzantina/ lantana, Geranium Rozanne and Erigeron karvinskianus.
I take my hat off to all those who step up and do something positive which contributes to making life better for all of us. Thank you Bridport Gardening and District Club.
FROM STREET TO SEA 5
Bridport’s mass litter pick ‘From Street to Sea’ takes place this coming Monday morning starting at 10.00. To get involved simply make your way to one of the following sites:
- The Coop car park
- Morrisons car park
- Waitrose car park
- The Black Hut on East Pier, West Bay
Or pick on the street where you live and drop what you collect in your black bin.
By spending an hour clearing our streets, green spaces, riverbanks and beaches of litter you will be making the environment we share with nature a much safer and healthier place for all.
I will be at the Waitrose site. Where will you be doing your bit?
What do the iPhone and the Coronation logo have in common?
They were both designed by Jony Ive