Our next meeting with the Council Leader is due to take place on 2nd Sept, so I shall be able to report on it at the Committee the following day. In view of my retirement as Chairman, I have invited my probable successor, Justin Draeger, to take part too, and Cllr Romero has agreed. The agenda has not yet been discussed, but, inter alia, I propose to raise:
• Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the need for a Traffic Movement Plan to coordinate them and the traffic which is still allowed to circulate.
• The danger of a rise in Covid-19 infection in the city associated with the return of our university students in the Autumn. Those who are concerned by this may wish to attend a Council webinar at 1400 on 26th August. To find out more about this, visit: https://bathnes.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BAyACD9kTlas7PKu6lmsmw . I have booked a place on your behalf, and have submitted 3 appropriate questions.
• The continuing nuisance caused to residents by seagulls, particularly during the breeding season, especially in view of doubts about the basis of their current 'endangered' status. See Tim Newark's article in the Chronicle on 6th Aug (and Pete Dorey's letter the following week); and his broader article in the Daily Express of 17th Aug at: https://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/1323229/gulls-nightmare-birds-guano-uk .
• The lack here of a comprehensive DIY store with parking, now that Homebase has closed.
• Diversity and inclusivity in all our dealings, and those of the Council.
Bath City Forum (BCF) – or "Bath Area Forum":
The BCF has not met since my July Report: in fact not since 28th Jan 19. The Council has now decided to rename it the "Bath Area Forum", to bring it in line with other "Area Forums" across B&NES, and to open its membership to any citizen. The first meeting will be held (by Zoom) at 1700 on Tuesday 25th Aug, when it will also cover the Council's response to Covid-19, and seek suggestions. Details for participating have been sent to members. I have booked a place on your behalf, and have submitted 4 appropriate questions; one of which is to query such "Forums" as a way of addressing Bath's democratic deficit, instead asking why creation of a Bath City Council, along the lines of those in Keynsham and Radstock, is not being proposed.
The BCF's sub-committee on Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) awards met on 21st July to review work so far, and its method of operating in the Autumn term. Almost all available funds have been allocated, so no further project aid was considered.
Most of you will know about the problems in maintaining the Council's two city golf courses: at Entry Hill and on the High Common above Royal Victoria Park (the 'Approach' golf course), both of which currently lose money. There was a comprehensive article in the 23rd July Chronicle which can be viewed on the web. I spoke about them at the Cabinet meeting on 22nd July, my words being available on our website at: http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/cms/uploads/entry-hill-and-approach-golf-courses-speaking-notes-for-cabinet-meeting-22-july-20-final.pdf. One Ward Councillor (Mark Elliott – Lansdown) and several of our member associations spoke as well. I think the Cabinet appreciated the concern amongst Bath's citizens and the care which all external speakers had taken in dealing with this subject. The conclusions were as follows, probably being the best we could have hoped for, in the circumstances:
• Recommending that an open procurement exercise be undertaken that allows all proposals to be properly considered and evaluated against an agreed set of criteria, but with proposals for community and sporting provision only being considered, and ensuring that bidders are able to tender for one or both of the sites as desired.
• Delegating to the Director of Environment authority to appoint a contractor in accordance with the Council's prescribed governance and procurement process, in consultation with the Cabinet Members for Finance and Communities.
This appeared in the Council's newsletter of 23rd July:
"Following advice from Public Health on the Covid-19 virus, the traditional event will regrettably not be able to take place. Instead we are working with all the partners in the city to create a Christmas event in Bath that will still support our local economy and also help people to stay safe and avoid the spread of the coronavirus."
Events in Royal Victoria Park (RVP):
Three large events in RVP have been cancelled, in August, September and October, due to Covid-19, much to the relief of neighbouring Associations.
Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG):
The next IAG meeting is due to take place on 8th Sept. I shall be raising the control and prevention of Rave parties in the area, of which there have been several attempted (and one which succeeded rather too well, at Charmy Down).
Burlington Street Broken Wall:
A developer, skilled in replica Georgian buildings, is showing interest.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA):
The NORA Committee has not met since my last report, in July. There is much concern about the Government's latest proposals for reforming the planning system in England & Wales (yet again), particularly as the lack of housing cannot be attributed to planning difficulties, because about a million approvals await construction!
The Keep Britain Tidy campaign is organizing litter picks, nationwide, in September. I'm sure FoBRA members need no encouragement (in fact probably do them already). For details visit: https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/get-involved/support-our-campaigns/great-british-spring-clean?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1869&utm_content=bottom-button
Operation of FoBRA during Covid-19 precautions:
Our Committee meeting on 3rd Sept will be the first since 21st January, for well-aired reasons. Work by our Executive and Subject Leads has, as I'm sure you realise, continued, however, and has been summarised in the 'four reports' (Chairman's Planning, Transport and Housing) which have continued to be published at the usual periodicity, in March, May and July.
Robin Kerr, Chairman, draft 2 and final dated 19th Aug 20