Saturday, 6 August 2011

Labour Councillors Support Call for 'Local List' to save Bridgwater's Heritage

In the light of the recent demolition of the Colley Lane Drying sheds the question of Bridgwater's industrial and architectural heritage has been brought to  the publics attention following an angry letter from the Chairs of Bridgwater Forward Dave Chapple and Sally Jones in which they attack Sedgemoor District Council for 'Official vandalism".

In an angry letter to the Mercury, Dave and Sally write "When this letter is printed, Bridgwater’s last brickyard drying sheds will have been demolished: destroyed, that is, by official council vandalism masquerading as ‘planning permission.’ We refer to the distinctive long, low wooden-slatted sheds at the Pathfinder Terrace end of Colley Lane. These drying sheds, dating probably from the late 19th century, belonged to the firm of H J and C Major Ltd. The Colley Lane brick and tile makers, members of Ernie Bevin and Jimmie Boltz’ TGWU/Transport and General Workers Union, played their part in the town’s distinctive and often turbulent working-class history. On behalf of our campaign group Bridgwater Forward, we have to register our disgust and anger that such a vital link to our industrial past has been destroyed."

Dave Chapple added "Who is responsible? Have the decency to own up! Hang your heads in shame! Did those who voted to grant planning permission for demolition of the drying sheds for housing know anything of their history?Do any of these planning officials or councillors live in Bridgwater?"

Bridgwater Forward says that some nine months ago the Bridgwater Civic Society brought this matter to the council’s attention and that nothing was done.  They also say that there is also a possibility that some of Bridgwater’s oldest houses-(3-7 North St) may also be under threat.

Dave Chapple adds "If we were talking about a fine old country mansion in the Polden Hills, would there be this same distinct indifference? Vandals, if caught, may get punished, but how can Bridgwater people prevent such “official vandalism” by those who have a duty of care to preserve our town?"

Cllr Taylor calling for 'Local List'
Cllr Julian Taylor & Cllr Dave Loveridge (Labour Eastover) have been campaigning to try to save the Drying Sheds and are now calling for a 'Local List' in support of the Civic Society.

Cllr Taylor says " We have been trying to get this building listed for the last year The council have refused to introduce a local list.    Similarly with North Street.  The Local List was started when James White was conservation Officer in 2007, when he left the list was ‘lost’ .  The drying sheds are one of two remaining, the other is in the Drove . It's clear  the result is that we are losing our heritage for short term gain. The next to go could be  the Crypton building. "

Glen Burrows of Bridgwater Forward on the demolition site
Cllr Brian Smedley (Bridgwater Westover) , visiting the demolition site with members of Bridgwater Forward , supported Cllr Taylor's call for a Local List    "We should now  press to have this list so that the built environment heritage in Bridgwater is not lost to rapacious developers.  Because we do not havea local list we have lost these brick drying shedsand  next to go could be the  Art Deco Crypton Building  on Bristol Road,  and the 1930's cinema on Penel Orlieu   as well as the North street cottages. Why has there been no Conservation Area Appraisal in Bridgwater since the areas were first designated in the 1970s? Because it has not been seen to be a priority so maybe it is now time to make it one. I would urge groups such as the Town Council to get together with the Civic Society and Bridgwater Forward to make this campaign a reality"

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