We are surrounded by a diverse range of people. People in our community integrate so well that you can’t tell who is from where, and anyone could be from any background. That is what makes Portishead special. Regardless of our background, we are embraced as part of a strong sense of community, and that is how it should be. But, for many reasons, that is not always the case.
As a British Sign Language user, I know how it feels to struggle to fit into an established community. I have faced barriers with access to services, participation in social gatherings, and more, leaving me feeling excluded for being different. I can fully empathise with anyone who has experienced similar struggles, who feel as if they are not on par with others who can easily fit in within a community.
If you look around in Portishead carefully, you will find constant links to the past, whether it is the Old Lockgate in the Marina, the old bridge for the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway, the old sea wall by the Old Mill pub, or the old railway line behind Sainsbury’s. These are reminders of Portishead’s Past, of what it used to be.
Some of you will know I have a passion for local history, and Portishead is full of it. I love to explore the past, buying books and old maps to understand how the town has evolved over time. I administer the Portishead Past online community, which has given me a wealth of knowledge of Portishead’s enriched industrial history and I delight in sharing them with everyone. But not everything can be discovered online.
Regrettably, much of Portishead’s past has been swept away by deindustrialisation and through modern developments, with the loss of many jobs, businesses and services, the old railway stations, the power stations and old factories like the Mustad's Nail Factory and Albright & Wilson. These ghosts of Portishead are now confined to photographs and stories. I do not think that is enough.
While we can’t bring back the past, we can preserve the history for the future. A partnership of residents, the town and district Council, and local history groups like the Gordano Civic Society, have the potential to add mix Portishead’s Past and Present by adding more information boards and plaques around Portishead, developing Portishead’s Heritage Centre in the Folk Hall, and by working together to restore local landmarks like the Old Lock Gates, and the Old Railway Bridge so that they enhance and build up Portishead’s unique identity.
Paul Welton is a local Liberal Democrat campaigner in Portishead working to improve our local services and environment. Paul is profoundly deaf and a British Sign Language user and is working to improve provision for people with disabilities in North Somerset.
£700k Great Lakes investment for North Somerset
The Portishead Lake grounds have suffered from years of underinvestment.
Local Lib Dem councillor Sue Mason recently presented a petition to North Somerset Council, calling for them to dredge the lake at the Portishead Lake Grounds to tackle the mud build-up and protect local wildlife.
There is some new hope for the future of The Portishead Lake Grounds, in the form of a new £700k Great Lakes investment package which will support the transformations of the Portishead Lake Grounds, and the Clevedon and Weston Marine Lakes.
As part of the recent Council budget, with leadership from Lib Dem Councillors, North Somerset Council have set aside £700 thousand pounds to support improvement projects at three of North Somerset’s much-loved lakes.
North Somerset Council will work in partnership with Portishead Town Council to draw up a long-term plan and investment strategy for the rejuvenation of The Portishead Lake Grounds, including work on some of the buildings like the boathouse, café, toilets to help transform the area and create a better space for the local community.
Clevedon Marine Lake is incredibly popular, so extra facilities and investment are needed to cope with the number of visitors. North Somerset Council will be working with the local community to create a new vision for the site and invest this portion of the fund.
North Somerset Council will also dredge the Weston marine lake and investigate what other work is needed, which could include upgrading the sluice gates.
North Somerset Lib Dem councillor Sue Mason said "Investment in our lakes was long overdue - and now, with a new council, our community spaces are getting the investment they deserve."
Transport shouldn’t just be about the car. We want to make our roads safer spaces where active travel is encouraged, and empower residents to feel they have some control over how they can travel around their local community.
So, in the recent North Somerset Council budget we set out a vision for the future of our area - a future that is better connected, cleaner, greener and safer than ever before with new transport projects that will stand the test of time and help safeguard the future of our planet.