COLUMNIST: Mike Mendoza, chairman of Adur District Council, on the Adur Ferry Bridge opening, Sompting and his Christmas card competition

I JUST don’t know where the weeks are going, time just flies by. The past week has been no exception.

We had, of course, the opening of the much-anticipated Adur Ferry Bridge in Shoreham. How lucky were we with the weather? The Duke of Gloucester performed the opening ceremony and I had the honour of greeting him at the Sussex Yacht Club prior to his arrival at the bridge, in order to introduce him to Adur councillors.

Once again I was immensely proud to be the chairman of this great district, as its citizens turned out in their hundreds to watch the proceedings. Everyone listened to speeches in silence and then enjoyed their first walk over this new iconic structure that will grace Shoreham town centre for many years to come.

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I also had the honour of leading the first group of children over from the Beach side to the town centre. With the ‘official’ part of the opening over, it was time for the ‘people’ to do their own special opening, which started with a conga over the bridge and back and ended with a most magnificent firework display, the likes of which I have never seen before.

Many were disappointed on Saturday that a group of people decided to walk some horses across the new bridge. While I understood the reason for doing this, I felt that those involved didn’t really think the whole idea through.

This was the first Saturday after the opening and once again we were blessed with a lovely sunny day, which meant a lot of people were enjoying the bridge for the first time. As horses do, they unfortunately fouled the footpath, which left quite a few piles of excrement from one end of the bridge to the other, plus being such a sunny and warm day the stench was foul.

There was, of course, the danger of the horses being spooked, bolting and kicking out at the glass sides of the bridge and possibly harming families who were walking over at the same time.

I received several calls from members of the public complaining about the incident. I had to make calls and it was Adur Council which had to send in a team of cleaners to clear the mess. West Sussex (which owns the structure) has now declared that the bridge is NOT a bridleway and horses are not permitted to ride across in the future.

I am always pleased to hear from organisations that want me to attend their events or just inform me of what is going on in their area. I must say that I received an abusive email from someone who said I ignore Sompting. A few months ago, I presented a certificate to Sompting Village Hall in recognition of 60 years’ service to the local community. I very rarely hear from anyone in Sompting, so here is an open invitation to make contact with me.

We have just finalised the details of my Christmas celebration service of carols and readings, being held at St Mary de Haura Church in the centre of Shoreham on Thursday, December 5, at 6.30pm. Sompting Village School will be singing carols for us (another mention of Sompting!). There will be mince pies and mulled wine on offer at the end of the service and everyone is very welcome to attend.

Talking of Christmas, congratulations to Cyril Crouch from Shoreham Beach, who is the winner of my Christmas card competition. Cyril’s entry was chosen by the chief photographer of the Herald, Jim Cunliffe, hhead of Face Media Group, and myself.

It was not an easy task to choose one from such a vast amount of entries. I personally was looking for a typical wintery scene within the district that was instantly recognisable. Cyril caught St Mary de Haura Church on a cold winter’s day with a group of people walking along the path.

The cards are currently being printed and the first one will be presented to Cyril at Adur Civic Centre next week. Thank you to all of you who went to the trouble to send in entries.