The long awaited, and much needed, redevelopment of a site where many Bridgwater Carnival clubs annually construct their spectacular entries, has taken three massive steps forward in recent weeks.
Firstly, a £1.25m grant towards the cost of the project was secured from the Hinkley Point C’s Community Fund, administered by Somerset Community Foundation. This was followed by a £3m award for Phase 1 of the project which was sanctioned by the government as part of Bridgwater’s Town Deal funding programme. Both grants were made subject to planning permission, and this third piece of the jigsaw was put into place when this was approved by Somerset Council on Monday 17 April.
“It has been a long process to get to this stage but, at last, we are now well on the way towards making huge improvements to our Bristol Road site for the benefit of our carnival clubs and the community.” a delighted Chris Hocking, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival’s Project Director, declared. “This funding will enable us to enhance the access from Bristol Road, remove the risk of site flooding and, in the first phase, construct five new sheds for clubs and the committee. We are also purchasing the freehold of the site from Bridgwater Town Council which will provide security of tenure and improve parking for club members,
which has been much needed in recent years.”
“We have received a vast amount of support during this process, not least from officers and staff of the former Sedgemoor District Council, whose advice and guidance has enabled us to secure the grants and planning approval. The input from our freelance project manager, Martin Davidson, has also been of tremendous value in helping us to reach this stage and my thanks are also extended to the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival committee and clubs who have backed the project over the last four years.”The project now moves on to the completion of the final stages of the design and costing process, as well as satisfying some conditions of the planning permit. In any case, construction work on the site will not commence before December 2023 which will allow clubs to complete their entries in this year’s parade without disruption.
“With Phase 1 now approved, we are hopeful that other funders will be encouraged to come on board to enable us to complete the second and third phases”, added Chris “These final stages will provide new sheds for up to thirteen clubs as well as the committee, providing fit-for-purpose accommodation in which club members can work in comfort and safety.
Facilities which they absolutely deserve in return for their creative talents which produces the tremendous spectacle we witness on the streets of our town every November.”
Justin Sargent, Chief Executive at Somerset Community Foundation said: “The Hinkley Point C Community Fund Awards Panel recognised the incredible role that Carnival plays in Bridgwater and the surrounding area, with thousands of people actively involved throughout the year. Not only is it an important cultural event, collectively the clubs provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn skills, feel connected with their community and have a lot of fun. This is by some distance the largest grant we have ever awarded, but in many ways the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival is, by some distance, the largest community organisation we have encountered in Somerset.”
Andrew Cockcroft, Hinkley Point C Senior Stakeholder Relations Manager, said “At Hinkley Point C, we understand the huge significance of Bridgwater Carnival to Somerset, and we’re thrilled to be investing in its future. This grant is just one example of our commitment to improving lives and communities in our area. We look forwarding to seeing the Carnival continue to thrive for years to come.”
“The Town Deal Board are delighted to hear that additional funding has been secured to enable the Phase 1 of the Bristol Road built to get underway”, added the chairman of Bridgwater Town Deal, Paul Moore. “It’s been a long and difficult journey getting this designed and approved by the relevant authorities. With thanks to the hard work by former Sedgemoor District Council Officers, Consultants and the Carnival Committee this upgrade is now about to become a reality, we are pleased to be helping secure the future of Carnival in Bridgwater.”
For more information about the Bridgwater Town Deal, follow BridgwaterTownDeal on Facebook and BridgwaterTD on Twitter.
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