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Peter Christie - a personal view of life in Bideford

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

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ONE of our county councillors has expressed his support for a third bridge across the Torridge upstream from the Long Bridge.

Unfortunately any new road serving this bridge would have to either go through Jennett's reservoir or through the town council's nature reserve which probably makes this a non-starter.

At this week's town council meeting we heard from the other county councillor that "an additional £750 million would be required to complete all the outstanding highway repairs" in Devon – and given that a new bridge could cost up to £80 million this would seem to be an even stronger argument against it!

Of course if the county had £80 million available it might be better spent on repairing our present road network which is rapidly disintegrating rather than building a new bridge for which there seems little demand.

Reading through old Journals often throws up odd stories and here is one from 1949.

The Bideford town council, which then ran the library, had been approached by a local resident offering to "provide the Daily Worker free of charge".

This newspaper was the organ of the British Communist Party and councillor A Chope commented that "the policy of the Communists is to pull everything down before it can be rebuilt. Those of us who do not want to see the existing order pulled down want to resist their efforts".

Councillor Goaman then pointed out that the library had actually taken the Daily Worker for many years and no one had complained adding that "they were not a body to exercise censorship in the matter of politics".

The matter was then dropped and presumably the newspaper joined all the others then on offer in the town.

I often quote bits from Tom Carrick's weekly listing of local crimes reported to the Neighbourhood Watch group and his latest contains a very odd one which happened on the Quay. A man was "perceived in drink and drugs" who was "playing in a puddle" outside a shop when he "ran up and head butted the window causing it to spider-web crack".

He was then arrested. I don't know what his problem was but what a great negative advertisement for drugs and/or drink.

One of the public speakers at the Torridge council meeting last week wanted us to push for a Financial Transaction Tax (known as a Robin Hood or Tobin tax).

This would tax financial deals by bankers etc and typically would raise £50 for every £100,000 deal.

The speaker wanted this as an alternative to current "unfair" austerity measures put in place by the coalition government.

She finished her argument by saying that one day's tax would pay for three million hours of home care for the elderly in this country – and given the threats to county council run nursing homes and day centres this could be extremely useful.

At the same meeting we set the council tax after one of the most convoluted series of motions/amendments/tangential arguments I have heard for a long time.

You will have read that we agreed a rise of 1.95% – although this is 1.95% of the roughly 9% that Torridge actually gets from council tax.

The vast majority of council tax goes to the county council although Torridge collects it all on behalf of the county – which makes many people think the district gets it all.

The rise equates to about £60,000 a year and this is to be split 50-50 between help for the homeless and job creation. I have already suggested we finance apprenticeships for local young people for the latter.

I would add that councillor Roger Johnson demanded to know whether the tax figure had been checked as he didn't want a repetition of last year's cock-up when bills were sent out with incorrect figures – and received the assurance that they had been thoroughly checked.

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