Frustration grows at lighthouse bell delay

RESIDENTS have accused Portishead Town Council of dragging its feet over the return of a lighthouse bell to the town.

After months of investigation, last year residents Carol Thomas and Annette Hennessy helped uncover the whereabouts of the Battery Point Bell at the Bristol Port Company.

They began campaigning to bring the bell ‘home’ and looked at numerous potential sites in Portishead from which the historical item could be publicly displayed.

Mrs Thomas says that over the past seven months since the bell was found people have continually asked her when it will be on display.

She said: “I work in a shop and every day members of the community ask me how much longer they will have to wait to see the bell back in its home town.”

Councillors have deferred making a decision on where to display the bell because they are waiting for a valuation on land next to the new library building Horatio House. Residents, however, argue that a site on Wyndham Way, the location of the old sea wall, is the best place for the bell.

Speaking at a Portishead Town Council meeting, Mrs Hennessy said: “On the advice of North Somerset Highways officers a preferred location on Wyndham Way central grass reservation has been pinpointed.

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“Architect designs have been chosen, an estimate of costs has been provided and we understand council funds are available, so we are very disappointed about the deferment.”

Councillor Colin Howells, who sits on the town council recreation and works committee, said: “There is a feeling within the council that, should we be able to acquire the land adjacent to Horatio House, we could develop the site as a community area where the bell could provide an appropriate centrepiece.

The council is currently seeking a valuation for this piece of land which, unfortunately, is taking longer than was first anticipated. I am sure that once the town council receives a valuation a way forward will quickly follow.”