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Mayor’s Blog

A Parched Land, Public Space Protection Order, Green Week Poetry and more

Bridport’s Great Big Green Week

Bridport’s Great Big Green Week is scheduled to take place between September 24 and October 1. As part of the run up to the opening event, which takes place on Millenium Green on the 24th, I am inviting people of all ages from across the town to share a personal message for the future.

You are invited to share your message in the form of a short piece of prose, a poem or a favourite quotation. It doesn’t matter whether you share your hopes or worries, your anger or frustration, your ideas or dreams. Whether your submission is handwritten or typed, illustrated or plain, signed or anonymous it does not matter, but please keep it short and to the point and most importantly heartfelt.

Once completed you can get your submission to us by: email to or by dropping it into the Tourist Information Centre or even hand it in on September 24.

Plastic Free Bridport

Great news! Plastic film recycling is now available at most supermarkets.

You can now recycle your plastics bags and plastic film at recycling points located at most supermarkets. Clean, used plastic bags and wrapping (like crisp packets and bread bags) are all accepted.

Let’s keep plastic out of the environment. To find out more click HERE.

Impacts of the Long Dry Spell – Farming

Even at the best of times farming is an extremely challenging way of life. Whilst we enjoy endless days of hot summer sun spare a thought for farmers across the world watching their crops struggling under the same unremitting sun. We take it for granted that our supermarkets and local shops will be full of everything we could possibly want. Whilst you bask in this long hot summer sun think about the impact it is having on local and global food production.

The following extract from local farmer George Streatfield’s monthly blog illustrates the impact the long dry spell is having on the growing and harvesting of crops.

Wow – how dry can it get! We had the grand total of 5mm of rain in July.

When I was small, my father always tried to finish combining by Melplash Show day – and rarely achieved it! This year we completed the wheat harvest on Saturday 30th July a month before the traditional show date. The yields were very variable; our best crop was around 4 tonnes to the acre (10/ha) which is good, but others I would rather not talk about. On the upside the grain quality was all really good with plump grains.

What to do next? Right now, very little as it is so dry nothing will germinate. However, we plan to ‘disc’ the stubbles to create some tilth on the top inch of the soil so that as soon as it looks like rain, we will sow the turnips for winter sheep feed. My sowings this summer are a failure – well I didn’t think it would stay this dry.

Normally as soon as the schools break up, it rains. This year was no exception but only 5mm then it stopped again! All the countryside stewardship crops are looking very poor or even non-existent as is the grass we drilled on the hill. Ah well, we will try again when it rains.”

The images above illustrate just how parched the land is at present. The image top right shows the Bridport Golf Club with one green that has been watered standing out starkly from the surrounding parched ground. With hose pipe bans iminent how long will it remain a green oasis?

Impact of the Long Dry Spell – Fires

When the countryside is tinder dry it does not take much to start a serious fire. A dropped cigarette end or one thrown from a car or even a spark from a braking lorry is enough to start a serious blaze.

Anyone who has driven along the road between Winterbourne Abbas and Dorchester during the past two weeks cannot help but notice the impact a lorry fire had on a tinder dry stretch of the road. Sparks from the lorry’s brakes set the load of straw on the lorry alight and within a short time around 400meters of hedgerow and trees on either side of the road were going up in flames.

Fire crews from Bridport, Dorchester, Weymouth, Beaminster, Maiden Newton and Bere Regis Fire Station and water carriers from Poole and Yeovil Fire Station were all mobilised On arrival fire crews found the lorry fully involved in fire, one small passenger vehicle fully involved in fire, multiple vehicles damaged by fire and surrounding vegetation and fencing on fire.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service have issued the following message: “Any fire outdoors at the moment has the potential to get out of hand very quickly, as the ground is so dry. Please avoid doing anything outside involving naked flame while the weather stays as it is; if you must light a fire, take extra care and follow our fire safety advice“.

On the day, Tuesday 19 July, the UK recorded it’s highest ever temperature forty-one homes were destroyed by fire in London on Britain’s hottest day with firefighters having their busiest 24 hours since the Second World War, Sadiq Khan has said.

On the day, Tuesday 19 July, the UK recorded it’s highest ever temperature forty-one homes were destroyed by fire with London’s firefighters having their busiest 24 hours since the Second World War.

Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn told Today on BBC Radio 4:, “Emergency services had responded to 2,600 calls for help related to the heatwave. A number of these fires are grass fires. The problem is we’ve not had rain in the entire month of July in London“.

Public Space Protection Order

Dorset Council’s new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) came into force on 1 July. It prevents people lighting fires, including BBQs, fireworks, lanterns, and campfires, in many public areas across Dorset. The Council is working with Forestry England and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire service to protect countryside area including heathlands, forests, and coastlines from the devastation that unattended naked flames can cause.

Click HERE to view a map showing the areas across Dorset covered by the PSPO. You can zoom into the map to see precisely which areas are covered. Please note that privately owned or tenanted property isn’t covered by the PSPO, even if it is within the spaces shown in red.  There has been some confusion about this.

Just over two years ago 220 hectares of heath and forest was destroyed by a wildfire at Wareham Forest. Started by discarded disposable BBQs, the fire blazed for three weeks and took 150 firefighters and 4 million litres of water to extinguish. It will take decades for the area to regenerate.

This ITV news report from April this year reminds us of the devastating impact wild fires can have.

Over the last two years there have also been a series of injuries and safety concerns caused by BBQs used along the coastline and public spaces. In Bridport several shops have stopped selling disposable BBQ’s which is really encouraging but sadly there are still pallet loads standing outside some garages and supermarkets. This week Marks & Spencer announced that it is to stop selling disposable BBQ’s in all its stores, where they lead lets hope others follow very quickly.

You do not have to go far to see the impact of disposable BBQ’s here in Bridport, scorch marks in the grass and on wooden seats in the Community Orchard and other public spaces are there for all to see. One of the consequences of a pallet blaze on East Beach is dozens of nails and screws left in the sand when the fire had died out, and this is where in days to come children will be playing in bare feet and digging with bare hands.

Dorset Council and its partners are working together to help ensure that all residents and visitors are aware of the new law and the reasons for it. Anyone found to be breaking the new restrictions will be liable for a £100 fine and all banned items will be confiscated. There is clear signage at the public areas where the PSPO applies. NB The PSPO does not apply to private property, such as gardens.

Mark Warn, Wildlife Ranger for Forestry England in Dorset, said: “Dorset is a special place, its heathlands and forests are a real haven for wildlife. They are home to some of the UK’s rarest wildlife and are outstanding places to visit and connect with nature. Let’s keep them this way by not lighting fires or BBQs and bringing a picnic instead”.

Group Manager Charlie Pack, of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Fire can spread with devastating speed and, every year, we see large areas of our beautiful countryside destroyed. In far too many cases, this is down to people not taking care with campfires or barbecues. We can all play our part in protecting our heathlands and open spaces, so we are urging people to Bring a Picnic not a BBQ when out and about, and to avoid doing anything involving naked flame.”

Litter Free Dorset are continuing their campaign for businesses to choose to remove disposable BBQs from sale and to encourage people not to use disposable BBQs. Find out more about this campaign.

All the agencies are encouraging people to take a picnic not a BBQ this year and, of course, take your rubbish home.

Scything the Community Orchard

Bridport’s Community Orchard leaves the grass to grow long , with paths cut through it, in order to encourage the development of a wild flower meadow around the trees. At some point the grass needs to be cut and the cuttings removed in order to reduce soil fertility and enable the wild flower seeds to germinate in a manner similar to the management of a traditional hay meadow.

As anyone who has adopted a no mow May policy will know cutting and removing long grass is a labour intensive job at the best of times. The Bridport Community Orchard volunteers like to carry out this task in the traditional manner by scything and raking rather than using a machine. This is partly because manipulating a suitable machine between the trees without causing damage would be very difficult and partly because there is minimal impact.

Scything this year took place early one Friday morning whilst it was still relatively cool and a great team of experienced and new scythes supported by rakers quickly made light work of the task.

The session ended with a real and vegetarian bacon and sausage baps breakfast, washed down with lashings of tea and coffee and lots of great chatting between friends.

Year on year the area and number of wild flower species increases thanks to this traditional method of management. If you would like to join the Bridport Community Orchard volunteers click HERE to find out more.

Magic Tenner Focus

Grow Slow – West Bay Fields
Businesses working with or supplying: Devonshire Lavender and Herbs, Misfit Plants, Bride Valley Nurseries, Fungimental, Bothenhill Farm, Punch And Judy, Broadoak Coffee, Fenton eggs, Herbwerx and more…

Ink & Page – West Allington
Businesses working with or supplying: Black & White IT, Bonfield Block Printers, Bridport Arts & Crafts, Bridport Lighting, Bridport Timber, Carrie Bags, Country Seats, Ella Squirrell, Footeprints, Girl’s Own Store, Greig & Allen, Hugh Dunford Wood, Katkin Tremayne, Lilliputs, Livingstone Textiles, Jemma Thompson, Lupin Designs, Made in the Vale, Maise Makes, Miranda Berrow, Old Bakery Pens, Steve Rose Stained Glass, The Alleyways, The Decorator Centre, Waste Not Want Not, and more…

The Bookshop – South Street
Businesses working with or supplying: Bella’s, Moore than Tea, Footeprints, Double D Computers, Framptons, Opal Dorset, Naturalife, The Decorator Center, Punch and Judy, Dorshi and more

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