Bath City Forum (BCF):
The most recent BCF was held on 28th Jan, since when it has not met. Cllr Dine Romero, the new Council Leader, wrote to all BCF members on 9th July announcing the setting up of a small working group to undertake a review. This working group will be made up of Bath Ward Councillors, who have previous experience of the BCF. The key drivers will be increasing participation, resident engagement and making the Forum more inclusive. It will also take advice from the five Area Community Forums that operate outside Bath, considering what has worked well for them and what areas they feel need improving. I suppose it is possible that radical changes such as parishing might also be looked at.
One of the tasks of the BCF which cannot be deferred is the discussion of applications for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) awards. The next CIL sub-committee meets on 29th July.
The Council is currently reviewing its Statement of Licensing Policy and Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) in Bath City Centre under the Licensing Act 2003. The consultation runs until 12 Sept, and details are at www.bathnes.gov.uk/licensing-consultations . Because we don't have an expert in this subject I have asked Ian Perkins, Chairman of TARA, to help, particularly on the proposal to take areas out of a CIA.
Following my statement at the AGM, I invite anyone interested in standing for the Chairmanship of FoBRA next year to make this known to our Secretary. It may seem a long time until the next AGM, but one cannot start too early.
The Vice Chairman, Nick Tobin, will also be standing down next year, so volunteers for this post are needed too.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA):
As mentioned at the 9th May Committee, the NORA AGM took place on 2nd May, where the external speaker was from the Royal Town Planning Institute, who talked about 'Planning Aid'. Information on this splendid (and largely free) service was circulated by the Secretary on 25th May.
Also discussed on 9th May was the need to expand NORA's membership, to match the increasing interest and recognition by Government, possibly by asking FoBRA members to apply for Associate membership of NORA. In this way NORA's membership numbers would be boosted, and Associates would receive all NORA's literature, while FoBRA would continue to represent them on NORA's Executive. Members will wish to know that PERA has applied for NORA membership, and others may be considering it!
Short Term Letting:
In answer to an article in the Chronicle on 13th June 'What Airbnb has done for us and visitors to the city', I wrote on your behalf a letter entitled 'The Darker Side to the Airbnb Effect' which was published in the Chronicle on 20th June and which you can read at: http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/cms/uploads/airbnb-effect-20-june-19.pdf , emphasising the reduction in the number of long term residential letting houses which it can cause, stoking our housing crisis. Patrick Rotheram and I discussed this with the new Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, Cllr Tim Ball, on 10th June, who agreed.
The latest Party House news is that the appeal has been turned down for the one at 3 Greenway Lane, and hence, presumably, the Enforcement Order to close it down will be reinstated. I have asked Cllr Ball to publicise this, as it will establish a useful precedent in Bath (the first). We are examining the decision from the Planning Inspectorate to discover whether this was decided on the grounds of nuisance or change of use, as these differences are important. I shall also be informing NORA as this may be helpful in the wider context.
Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG):
The most recent Police IAG met on 11th June, when mental health was discussed. About 85% of policing is non-crime, and most of this is mental health-related. The police are even finding themselves called into hospitals to restrain patients because no one else can, or is prepared to, do it. Effectively, mental health is being criminalised, but it is very hard to know what to do about this. As for the crime statistics: these are still reducing in Bath, though 'County Lines', and 'Cuckooing' are causing worry.
Members will have seen the campaign currently being waged in the pages of the Chronicle (4th and 11th July) on refuse, litter, seagulls, etc. Our expert, Rachael Hushon, is analysing all this and will provide a report at the next Committee meeting. Tim Newark, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, in a recent letter, has commended the Council for replacing the unsightly commercial bins at the corners of Gay Street and George Street by uniform black ones, but seeking more effective action on seagulls.
Legal & General (L&G) have bought the Homebase site and are employing Guild Living to build a new type of retirement complex, the first one in UK. It will be possible for residents to move within the complex from independent flats to full 24-hour care - minimum age being 65. Space allocated to parking is going to be minimised by "squeezing" cars together in crates automatically, each crate having a power socket for electric charging. It will have a big emphasis on gardens and plants – either done by the residents or for them: with clever arrangements for interaction everywhere, to minimise loneliness. There will be a children's nursery on site, to promote interaction between residents and children (see a Channel 4 documentary about the effectiveness of this both for old people and for the children – L&G are employing the Professor who pioneered this, as a consultant). Restaurants and cafes onsite will be open to all, to promote activity and 'buzz'. Expect more consultation in the Autumn, and a Planning Application near the year's end. The only drawback is that living space will be leasehold for life, and quite expensive (~ £1M), with no rebate on death!
Members will remember the discussion held at the 9th May Committee about Climate Change and what residents could do to ameliorate it, with consideration of making easier certain changes to Listed Buildings (such as double glazing). As a consequence, Patrick Rotheram and I met the Chief Executive and planning officers of the Bath Preservation Trust (BPT) on 13th June to discuss this. I am happy to discuss our conclusions at the Committee on 18th July, but, in short, low profile double glazed sashes are very expensive, so secondary glazing is probably a better bet (eg 'CosyGlazing'), with some of the improvements listed in the Council's Supplementary Planning Document 'Sustainable Construction and Retrofitting – Feb 2013' being better value. I shall bring a copy on 18th July. BPT are considering revising and republishing their excellent publication 'Warmer Bath - June 2011'.
Robin Kerr, final, 12th July 19
Note: The Chairman made further comments on and corrections to five items in this report - see the minutes of the meeting for details.