Chairman's Report

Chairman's Report - 12 November 2020

1. LIVEABLE NEIGHBOURHOODS/LTA'S

We already covered this issue at great length in our EGM a few weeks ago. I do not propose to say much more now other than to note that FOBRA's (majority) agreed response to the Council's consultation was duly communicated to the Council. The Council advises that they are presently scrutinising the 1,600 responses they have received. I assume that once the have completed this, they will communicate the results to the citizens of Bath and provide us with a roadmap for where we all go from here.

2. CLEVELAND BRIDGE

Bath's MP is presently promoting a petition on her website. The petition reads:

"To the House of Commons. The Petition of the residents of Bath, Declares that Cleveland Bridge, a Grade II* listed structure, is unable to withstand vehicles over 18 tonnes as part of its function on the Primary Road Network; further that interventions are now increasingly needed to preserve the structure for future generations, as the law requires; and further that the Government has set out in its Road Investment Strategy that the A350 corridor could be used as the main north-south strategic route from the south coast to the M4. The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to bring forward urgent work to adopt the A350 corridor as the main route from the south coast to the M4, and to consider redirecting east-west traffic from the A4 and Bristol, to the A420 north of the city, thereby protecting Cleveland Bridge from heavy freight traffic and enabling a reduced weight limit."

Because the petition appears on a party-political website, FOBRA will not be signing it. Residents may of course decide individually to sign it.

3. NEW 20 MPH SPEED LIMITS

The Council is proposing to extend the number of roads that are subject to 20mph limits. A number of these are major routes. Does FOBRA have/want to have a view on this proposal, or should it be left up to the individual areas affect by the proposed changes to respond?

4. TRANSPORT LEAD

Patrick Rotheram is standing down as Transport Group Lead as of the end of November. I would like to take the opportunity to thank him for his years of sterling service to FOBRA in this capacity. I know we will not be losing his forthright views on transport and all things Bathonian because he will still be involved in FOBRA in his capacity as Vineyards chair.

5. THE REC

On 13 October the High Court in Bristol handed down a very important judgment which amounted to a significant defeat for the developers in their attempts to redevelop the Rec. Essentially the judge found that the 1922 Covenants prevented business development at the Rec complicating (at least) any attempts by the developer to build a new 18,000 seat stadium and an under pitch car park. This is a very welcome development. The judge (naturally) refused Bath Rugby permission to appeal his own judgement. It is to be assumed, however, that Bath Rugby will apply to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal and this may or may not be granted, depending on the view the Court of Appeal takes of the judge's conclusions.

6. COVID, RETAIL AND THE UNIVERSITIES

First, you will all have seen the devastation wrought to retail in the city. The latest lockdown will presumably result in further closures. Although FOBRA is a grouping of residents' associations, all of our residents rely on Bath having a thriving retail sector within easy reach. What more can FOBRA be doing to encourage the Council to protect the surviving retail offering and help it to rebuild and thrive? Second, do we think that the Universities and the Council are doing enough to bear down on the undeniably serious Covid outbreaks on the two campuses and if not, what can FOBRA do to encourage a more robust approach and assist the RA's that are being most directly affected by the outbreaks?

7. LOCAL DEMOCRACY

Bath has no city council, nor is it parished. On the face of it, this is undemocratic and regressive. It is my view that FOBRA should be campaigning strongly for Bath at least to be parished. All our neighbouring towns in North East Somerset have parish councils. I was very surprised and disheartened therefore to be told at a recent meeting with councillors that they were opposed to parishing Bath because it would do nothing more than add another layer of expense.

Justin Draeger
8/11/2020

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