December 8, 2017
Call for old Highbridge radio station to be remembered with memorial

The work of Highbridge's historic old radio communication station could be formally recognised with a dedicated memorial if thousands of pounds of funding can be secured by the Town Council before a crucial deadline this month.

Larry Bennett, a former employee at the station, pictured below, this week spoke out at a Town Council meeting, calling for the old BT radio station site – which played a key role in military communications during World War II, the Falklands War and the Gulf War - to be remembered.

The old station in Highbridge, which was known as Portishead Radio, closed down in 2000 and was bulldozed in 2007 to make way for the Mulholland Park housing development.

Councillors heard this week that the developer of Mulholland Park potentially agreed at the time to provide £15,000 of so-called '106 agreement' developer cash for a permanent memorial for the former radio station.

However, no memorial has ever been bought or installed – and the '106 agreement' has a 10-year lifespan, which is scheduled to run out in the middle of this month.

Mr Bennett spoke out on the matter at Wednesday's meeting of the council's Town Projects Committee and urged councillors to step in and help.

"It was a sad and disgraceful way for such an important establishment to end its days."

"It's vital that this historic Burnham building is not permanently forgotten – so much important work went on there for many years which must be properly recognised," said Larry.

"I know there was £15,000 set aside from the developer to fund a memorial or plaque but I don't know where the money went or whether it's still in an account somewhere waiting to be spent. Other former radio stations like this one, have memorials and it would be a shame to see ours just forgotten."

Councillors were sympathetic to Larry’s request and agreed to contact Sedgemoor District Council as a matter of urgency to try and secure the funding.

Cllr John Parkes said: "So many local people still talk about the important work that went on there all those years ago – I'd support a proper memorial there."

Cllr Nick Tolley, right, added: "It's a very, very important part of our local heritage that must not be lost, but while plaques are brilliant, one at Mulholland Park may not be very visible - so I'd suggest a three-dimensional rock structure somewhere in the town that would have more impact and be visible to visitors."

Cllr Peter Clayton added: "I would definitely support some form of a memorial – it's an important part of our local history."

Cllr Janet Keen added: "I would be happy to find out more from Sedgemoor District Council on whether the '106' funds are still available and, if they are, how they can be released."

Cllr Michael Clarke, who chairs the committee, cautioned: "We need to move tout de suite [immediately] on this."

"The paperwork says the funding expires 10 years from 14 December, 2007. Time is of the essence."

The radio station being used during the 1990s before it closed in 2000


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